Buying an RV is not like buying a car. If a salesperson or seller tries to make the experience like buying a car, odds are they are hiding something. This should be more like buying a home.
When purchasing a new RV the first thing you should do is spend time researching different brands and models. You can find a lot of information online about peoples experiences with their RV’s.
When buying a used RV it is usually less about the brand than it is about how it has been maintained. This is difficult to determine sometimes if you aren’t an RV professional.
After you have done your research it’s time to begin the hunt. Finding the model you want can be difficult sometimes. RV’s are spread out all over the country, and unlike cars there aren’t hundreds of thousands of each model made every year. You may live in Colorado, but you can only find the model you want in Florida. It’s not the end of the world, because if you follow some simple steps you can buy that RV with confidence and go pick it up.
If buying from a distance, most likely you are going to call and talk to the salesperson or seller. If you are close to the unit, you will probably go and look at it and talk in person. If you are buying from a distance, it’s always good to ask for more pictures if there aren’t very many.
After you decide this might be the RV for you, most RV dealers or private RV sellers will ask for a deposit to hold the RV for you. This is normal when buying an RV, but before you put that money down you want to make sure it is refundable if you decide to back out of the deal. If buying from a private seller, you should ask them to sign a first right of refusal so they do not sell the RV out from under you.
You should not negotiate a final price until you know this is the RV you are going to buy. The next step in the process should be getting an independent RV inspection by an NRVIA Level 2 Certified RV Inspector.
RV dealerships do a PDI (pre-purchase delivery inspection) but the question you need to ask yourself is who are they really working for? If you hire an independent RV inspection company to perform the RV inspection for you, you know are working for you. This is quite possibly the most important thing you will do during the entire RV purchasing process.
Most private sellers and RV dealerships do not want you to be an informed buyer. As a matter of fact, they may even tell you NO and some dealers may tell you they do not allow independent RV inspections. If they do not allow you to get a third-party RV inspection, THAT should tell you exactly what you need to know about the RV or the person selling the RV.
If you have done your research, you have seen the amount of issues people have had after buying new and used RV’s. An independent RV inspection gives you a lot better chance of not buying a lemon.
After your RV inspection it’s time to negotiate for price, repairs or both. RV inspections seem like they are expensive, but once you see the repairs you get done and the price negotiating you can do, you will see you actually saved money. Sometimes you can save thousands of dollars. If the RV inspection report comes back and there are more problems than you are willing to deal with, you just saved yourself the cost of that RV.
After the repairs and negotiations are complete you should verify that the work which was promised was actually done. Just because people say they fixed an issue, doesn’t mean they really did. You can even hire your RV inspector to come back out and inspect those items for you if you do not feel comfortable verifying issues yourself. Sometimes just the threat of having the RV re-inspected before the repairs are started is enough to influence them to do the job right.
Now you are prepared to go to financing. Understand that dealers get kickbacks from finance and RV warranty companies. If you can find the financing and warranty elsewhere, you may get better coverage for a better price.
If you don’t have a large enough budget to be able to make repairs to your RV when things happen, then an extended RV warranty may be right for you. Even if you have a large RV repair budget, an RV extended warranty can cut the costs of repairs.
After all these steps, it’s time to do an RV walk-through. Pay attention and take notes. There is a lot to learn about RVs – especially if you’ve never owned an RV. Most RV inspection companies also offer this service after you purchase. This is especially helpful if the obligatory walk-through was not thorough enough.
The most important part of buying an RV properly is enjoying it. If you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to a great RV experience.