The Top 6 Reasons To Buy A Used RV
Some people aren’t satisfied unless they have the newest, biggest, most luxurious, and expensive option of whatever they are buying, and that is true for RVs as well. But these people are the exception, not the rule.
Most people work hard for their money and want to consider all the pros and cons of every major purchase. To facilitate that consideration, here are six reasons to buy a used RV rather than a new one.
1. New RVs are more expensive and depreciate quickly
New RVs are just like cars in terms of depreciation. As soon as you drive off the lot, your RV loses value. So, unless you intend to keep your RV for many years to amortize the depreciation, that immediate loss of value is often considered a waste of money.
Sure, as the first owner you get to experience all the new car (RV) smells and ambiance. But the reality is you will pay a premium for those amenities. You will also need to work through any bugs that come with the new RV.
Sometimes these bugs are minor, but on occasion these problems may be major defects. Getting these issues fixed through the manufacturer’s warranty can be quite problematic for some brands and models. In fact, many RVers will tell you that taking care of the new bugs is the main reason they won’t buy a new RV.
2. The used market provides the most diverse selection
The used market represents the largest possible selection of RV types, models, ages, floorplans, and price points. In the used market, you can find everything from almost new motorhomes to vintage campers or even DIY restoration projects.
There are recreational vehicles at every conceivable price point, so anyone can find a model within their budget. The used market is massive and covers the entire continent. You should be able to find several models to meet your unique needs.
3. You can buy from a dealership or private sellers
In the used market, you can buy from a dealer or even on a consignment lot. Better yet, you can buy directly from a private seller. When you buy directly from the owner, both you and the seller benefit financially, because there is no middleman taking a cut out of the transaction.
In the private market, sellers receive a better price for their RV, and buyers pay less than they would at a dealership. Consequently, the for-sale-by-owner market works to the advantage of both parties. However, navigating the used market might be a little intimidating, and you may need some professional help. The staff at National Vehicle are used RV experts, and their sole mission is to assist buyers and sellers. We will detail more on this below.
As an added benefit, when you buy from the current owner, you can learn more about the RV’s condition, how it was used and maintained, and what unique features or operational anomalies you will need to know to fully enjoy your RV. At a dealership, that information will not be available.
4. Used RVs have all the bugs worked out
One of the reoccurring themes of buying a new RV is the complaints about defects. RV manufacturers continually strive to produce high quality RVs, but recreational vehicles are complicated constructions with many moving parts. In addition, the manufacturers must rely on a host of vendors for all the parts they use in their RVs.
Unlike car manufacturers, which produce only a few models each year, RV manufacturers create many unique floorplans with many combinations of amenities. All this variability results in smaller production runs of each style.
To test this theory, we looked for a specific brand, model, and floorplan, in the current year of new RVs. We only found two of these RVs for sale in the entire country, and even those two rigs were not equipped exactly alike. All this uniqueness in the RV manufacturing process opens the door for more problems to get all the way through to the end user.
But when you buy a used RV, most of these production anomalies have been resolved by the original owner. Additionally, when you buy a used RV, you can have it independently inspected to confirm that it is in good working order, and you can check the maintenance records provided by the current owner.
Therefore, you likely won’t spend the first few months of ownership haggling with the manufacturer over defects. You can start enjoying your new purchase from day one.
5. You can find “like new” RVs at a reduced price
Many people who buy new RVs choose the wrong model to fit their needs. It’s very difficult, especially for new RV buyers, to correctly match their needs to the RV style, model, features, and size. They may think an inexpensive pop-up trailer is the perfect fit for their family’s camping needs, only to discover after using it a few times that setting up and breaking down the pop-up trailer is a nuisance, and they really need a bathroom in a hard-sided trailer.
Other people may think they need all the room afforded them in a 45-foot fifth wheel, since they are going to be living in the RV full-time, only to discover that towing that large fifth wheel is both expensive and stressful, and its size limits where they can camp. They also realize that they don’t need nearly as much room as they first thought.
The reverse of this scenario is also true. We have met several people who bought vans or Class C RVs only to discover it was too small for their needs.
Typically, the owner will trade in their rig soon after buying it for a model that fits them better. All these virtually new RVs will (by necessity) be available in the used marketplace at reduced prices.
We know a couple who bought and sold five different RVs in the first six years of their marriage. They started with a pop-up trailer and kept trading them in for larger and more elaborate models until their fifth and final RV was a 40’ Class A diesel pusher.
6. You can access professional help in the private market
The final reason to buy a used RV, besides a better selection, better price, and not dealing with manufacturer defects, is knowing there are industry experts available to help you navigate through the process.
They are not like a dealership that tries to influence you to buy something that is in their inventory. The company mentioned above, National Vehicle, doesn’t have a vested interest in you buying any specific RV. They don’t care if you buy one from your hometown or one that is clear across the country. They want to help you find the right size RV, with the right features, that is priced for your budget. The company can help you find and hire an inspector, and even help you secure financing, if needed.
If you buy an RV that is clear across the country, and you don’t want to go and get it, National Vehicle can even help you arrange for the transport or delivery. All they do is help RV buyers and sellers, so they truly are experts in this industry.
Buying a used RV is generally a better decision than buying a new one, unless you have a need to be the original owner, you know exactly what you want, and you intend to keep your rig long enough to absorb all the early years of depreciation; or you are that person that simply has to have the newest, biggest, and most expensive new toy.
However, buying a used RV can be a daunting process that most people will only do once or twice. Having National Vehicle (with their industry knowledge and network of resources) acting as your advocate makes the whole process less stressful and a lot more enjoyable.
- Avoid The Rush, The Time To Buy Or Sell Your RV Is NOW!
- Know Your RV’s Value: Check The RV Blue Book
Peggy Dent is an author, writer, and full-time RVer, traveling around the US and Canada. She’s traveled more than 130,000 miles in a motorhome, over the past 20 years, and is currently writing for the RV industry. You can contact her through her website at www.APenInYourHand.com
Mark McCabe says
Item 4 was the most important argument for buying your RV used. More and more, when you buy a new RV it spends most of it first year (or 2) in the shop. Let the previous owner handle this misery and hopefully when you take possession of it the major and most of the minor issues will have been fixed…
can’t agree with 4 & 5… I bought a “like new” TT (Keystone) in 2022 (TT was manufactured 2016)…and I discovered later on there is a huge wet problem…side and floor… don’t have many other opportunaties but to repair it as good as I am able to…
vallie coates says
When you go to look at a rv to buy, ask that it be set up just as you were going to use it. Use everything on the rv. Heater, ac, stove, fridge, hot water heater, water pump etc. If the seller won’t go along with it. That my be a big red flag. Look at the roof look for any cracks. Run your hands along the walls, make sure there isn’t any water damage. Look at the age of the tires. Take as much care buying a rv as you would a car or a house.
Tom Fromholt says
RVs are falling apart from the day you take it off the lot. The lifespan of cars and trucks have grown over the past 20 years, and a 10 year old vehicle still has potential. A 10 year old RV is typically a basket case of problems.
We rented for several years to get an idea of what we would like. We then shopped around and bought new what we wanted & have not been sorry. We have made a few modifications but have been happy with our choice.
Herb Sutton says
Some issues are not obvious until you live with the rig. Then you wonder “did anyone ever try this model out before they put it on the market. One dumb example was a trailer we had where they installed a light so that when when washing or shaving in front of the mirror, the light was behind you.
Some tall folks worry about the ceiling height and headroom. Far more important is the length of the bed. Before you buy slip your shoes off and try the bed.