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5 RV Buying Tips

Whether you’ve been RVing for decades or are just getting into it, “buying an RV,” prices ranging from five to seven figures, is every bit as horrifying as it sounds. It has been said that the best day owning an RV is the day you sell it, followed closely by the day you buy it. Depending on a mass of variables, the rest of those days can range from unbridled joy to gut-wrenching despair. Here are a few tips to help you get the best out of your experience, starting with buying an RV.

Shop Around for the Best Price

Unlike shopping for an automobile, getting the best price can be exceptionally difficult. There is no “Kelley Blue Book” equivalent for RVs, which means that there is no standard to compare prices by. Depending on make, model, configuration, year, mileage, maintenance, condition, and modifications, prices can vary significantly. The only way to compare new RV prices is to compare exact models and configurations. The only way to compare used RV prices is to check around and use your best judgement, considering what you’re willing to pay for whatever is out there.

Follow a Thorough Inspection Checklist

When considering a used RV, no matter how good it looks or how much the salesman hypes it up, a thorough pre-purchase inspection could save you money up front or time, money, and frustration down the road. Look for evidence of mold and mildew, inside and outside. Especially check the roof, which is often neglected. Open all doors and hatches, test all pull-outs and slide-outs, and check leveling equipment. Check engine, suspension, frame, and body for evidence of neglect, rust, and rot. Bring along an RV-savvy friend if you don’t have much RV experience.

Rent an RV Before You Buy an RV

If you’re already living the RV life, the best way to test out a new RV is to rent one for a week or two. If it’s available in a configuration close to what you’re used to or looking for, then renting will help you see how it fits your lifestyle and needs. If you’re new to RVing, renting a new or slightly-used RV will give you a good idea if you and your family are ready for it. Either way, renting an RV is significantly cheaper than putting down a down payment and attempting to escape it when it doesn’t work out.

The Best Time to Buy a New RV

Just like buying new cars, the best time to buy a new RV is when the new models come out. If you’re already going to RV shows and visiting dealerships, then you’re on the right track to learning when new models are released, which can vary depending on where you are. Late-Winter/Early-Spring tends to be a good time to look, as new models are typically “released” around February for the following year, so upgraders and dealers are likely to be looking to get rid of previous-year models.

Good Deals and Too-Good Deals

Whatever you manage to find in your price range, know that there are “Good Deals” and “Too-Good Deals,” that is, deals that are too good to be true. If the price is too good to be true, it’s most likely covering up an SEP (Somebody Else’s Problem), such as rampant rust, out-of-control rot, or simple neglect. View a too-good deal with a little extra suspicion to avoid falling into a bottomless pit.

Buying a new RV isn’t something for the faint of heart. The number of options alone would make your head spin, but doing your homework ahead of time should remove much of the doubt and confusion. After purchase, with a bit of maintenance, maybe you can get around to enjoying the escape of an RV.

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