Five Tips for Buying an RV

Quarantines and shutdowns have ended in some places. Other areas are seeing a rise in positive tests for COVID_19. However, one thing has recently become evident. RV sales are booming. In our last article I mentioned a conversation with a RV dealer who has seen a sharp increase in their sales. Other RV dealerships are reporting the same thing. A recent article in the Kansas City Star referenced an RV dealer who has seen recently seen increased sales. People want to get out of the house, and they want to travel. Some RV industry experts have asserted that people are looking for an alternative means of traveling. Instead of flying or staying in hotels, more people are turning to RVs. Is this a sign of the times, or just a temporary blip in the RV market? I don’t know. Time will tell. However, if you are wanting to get out and buy an RV here are five simple steps you can take to make the process less stressful.

Step Number One: Do Your Homework

There are many different types of RVs to choose from. You can choose from driveable or towable, large or small, slides or no slides, the options may seem endless. Finding the RV that fits into your lifestyle can be a challenge. Fortunately, all major RV manufacturers have great websites with floor plans, photos and videos of almost all the models they offer. There are Facebook groups devoted to almost every manufacture and type of RV being manufactured today. Spend some time looking at manufactures’ websites, going through their virtual tours. Spend some time on Facebook. You will be able to find a lot information about the pros and cons of nearly every make and model of RV. Remember though, what I like in an RV and what you like are going to differ. My needs are different than your needs. So, any opinions you receive from your research is just that, someone’s opinion. You will ultimately have to make the decision of whether the RV you are considering will work for you and your lifestyle.

Step Number Two: Slow Down

With the surge in RV sales you may feel pressured to buy the first RV you find. This pressure may come from within or we may experience external pressure that is placed on us. Have you ever y heard the expression “hast makes waste?” Well, it turns out that there might be something to that expression. Research has found when we must make a choice among many options, we feel rushed because there is so much more information to consider and process. Research has also found that the feeling of regret comes from feeling rushed, not from being rushed. It’s not about how long you take to reach a decision, but whether you felt you took enough time. If you don’t give yourself the time you feel you need to make a choice, you will tend to undermine your satisfaction and regret your decision, even though that feeling of regret may be unwarranted.

Slowing down when considering a lot of information makes sense. But you might be reading this wondering what information I would need to consider, other than do I like the RV, and can I afford the payments. Well, buying an RV is a lot like buying a house and buying a vehicle, all at the same time from the same place. Once we have selected our specific make and model of RV, given our many options, we need to thoroughly evaluate the RV. Is it structurally and mechanically sound? Where will I store it. Will it accommodate my list of needs and wants? How often will I use the RV? Can I maintain the RV, or will I have to find someone to do so? Am I comfortable towing or driving a big RV? Can I back up an RV this big? Those are just some of the many things to slow down and consider before making the big purchase.

Step Number Three: Get to Know Your Salesperson

As with anything there are good RV salespeople and bad RV salespeople. Three years ago, when we were looking for our current RV, we meet both types. One of the worst made a bad used car dealer seem like a great person. During our search I visited a big-name national RV dealer. You know, the one that flies large American flags in front of all its dealerships. I was simply looking and had no intention of buying, but this salesperson would not take no for an answer and he would not listen to my list of needs in an RV. He showed me a several RVs and then informed me he was going to show me one that was “going to be it.” When we walked into the model his only comment was “this is the one for you.” Again, not listening to what we wanted or needed. He insisted I call my wife and have her come by, even though I assured him that she was at least two hours away and that with three little kids this was not going to happen. He then insisted I Facetime her or call her, so we could “make the deal happen.” After all, “I didn’t want to walk out of the door and let someone else buy the RV.”

The best salesperson we had took the time to get to know us and ask questions about what our experience level was, how were we going to use the RV. He took time to explain how items on the RV worked and how his experiences were with living in an RV, including what he liked and did not like about the RV lifestyle. He never pressured us to buy an RV because someone else might. In the end, guess which dealer got our business.

As we slow down during the buying process take time to get to know your RV salesperson. Ask them some questions and make sure they understand your needs and wants when you are looking for an RV. How long has your RV salesman been selling RVs? Sure, they can explain how the systems worked, but have they personally owned or used an RV to go camping? For example, can they explain the pros and cons of an RV type refrigerator versus a residential refrigerator? This is something to consider, depending on how you plan on using the RV. Are you always going to have full hookups, or do you want to do more boondocking? Can your salesman help you understand what type of RV will fit best with what you intend on doing with the RV? Having a good RV salesperson will help us slow down and not feel rushed to decide.

Step Four: Thoroughly Consider How You Are Going to Use the RV

You have looked at all the different types of RVs and have taken your time doing research and finding the right RV. Have you taken time to thoroughly consider how you anticipate using the RV you are about to purchase? Are you going to use it occasionally, will be you traveling more frequently, possibly looking to go fulltime in your RV? What types of places do you anticipate camping? Will you be camping at all inclusive RV resorts, full hookup campgrounds with plenty of Space, or boondocking without hookups at all? Did you know that many campgrounds in our national parks were built when RVs were smaller? Therefore, many large RVs with slides are not able to fit into the campgrounds within national parks.

Step Number Five: Have an Independent Inspection

Why would I need an independent inspection when I have taken your advice and slowed down during the purchasing process? Afterall, I am handy and know a thing or two about vehicles and houses. I think I can look at an RV and make sure there is nothing wrong with it. Besides the RV is new and just came from the factory. Additionally, the RV dealer is going to do a predelivery inspection, they will find out if there was anything with it. You want to charge me how much for an inspection? All of these are reasons, or objections I have heard when people did not want to have an independent inspection prior to purchasing an RV.

Sure, you are probably handy around the house or with vehicles, but have you invested several thousand dollars in certifications and equipment to properly inspect an RV for potential life-safety issue. Can you inspect the propane system for leaks, or can you tell is a slide is out of alignment and needs adjusted? Would you be able and comfortable with getting on the roof and inspecting it for cracks or leaks that might allow water to get into the RV? Can you look for signs of water damage in the wall of the RV? Once water gets into the RV it will not take long to destroy an RV as walls start to come apart and mold starts to grow. These types of problems can be expensive to fix or even deadly.

Just because the RV is new, or the dealer has done a pre-delivery inspection does not mean there can be things wrong or missed. I have seen new, high end units, where plumbing was not connected from the factory. There have been issues with roofs not being properly sealed from the factory or sealing that has already failed. There have been issues with leveling systems that were not functioning. All of these were brand new units that the dealer had previously completed a pre-delivery inspection. You should also consider who the dealer is doing the pre-delivery inspection for. Are they really performing it for you, or are they performing it to cover themselves? When you hire an independent RV inspector, they will be working for you and have your best interest in mind. An independent RV inspector will provide you a detailed written report of the RV’s current condition. The report should contain numerous photographs depicting areas of concern, so you understand what the inspector is describing. An independent RV inspector should be looking at the RV from top to bottom, outside and inside. They should be testing every major system and appliance on the RV. They should be evaluating all the important life-safety devices on the RV. An independent RV inspector should take several hours to complete the onsite inspection, not just take a few pictures and go through a one-page check list. Have you ever heard the saying “you get what you pay for?” This is so true when it comes to RV inspections. If an inspector only takes a few pictures, goes through a one-page checklist and is done in an hour do you think there is a chance they missed some things or did not properly evaluate the RV?

So, while RV sales are booming it might be tempting to rush out and buy the first RV you see. Please take some time to slow down and don’t get rushed. When we rush there is a propensity to miss things or to feel regret later, after we have purchased the RV. Buying an RV can be a pleasant experience, when you keep these five simple steps in mind.

2 thoughts on “Five Tips for Buying an RV

  1. Thank you for this article it is exactly what I needed to hear. We live in Joplin area and I was almost paralyzed with fear reading about purchasing even a new RV because so many of them have problems. It eases my mind to know that I could contact you for an inspection. We are taking our time and are hoping to buy midwinter. We will definitely be calling you.

    1. Thanks. You won’t regret taking the time to do your research and find the right RV for you. When we purchased our RV I wish we had know about RV inspections and some of the issues both new and used RVs can have. That is one of the reasons we becoming RV inspectors and also why we will be adding mobile RV technician work to our business.

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