How to properly buy an RV.

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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 an 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 obviously you are going to call and talk to the salesperson or seller.  If you are close to the unit you will 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.

Most dealers after you decide this might be the RV for you 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 shouldn’t have negotiated a price until you know this is the RV you are going to by.  The next step in the process should be getting an independent RV inspection by an NRVIA Level 2 Certified RV Inspector. 

RV dealers 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 who they are working for.  It is quite possibly the most important thing you will do during the RV purchase.

Most private sellers and dealers do not want you to be an informed buyer.  As a matter of fact so will tell you no and some dealers will tell you they do not allow independent RV inspections.  If they do not allow you to get an RV inspection that should tell you 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 check the work that was promised was done.  Just because people say they fixed and issue doesn’t mean they did.  Don’t be afraid to have your RV inspector come back out and inspect those items for you if you do not feel comfortable doing it yourself.  Sometimes just the threat of having them reinspect before the repairs are started is enough to make them do their 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 on your own you will most likely get a better deal.  

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 is right for you.  Even if you have a large repair budget a warranty can cut the costs of any repairs down.

After all of this it is time to do a walk through.  Pay attention and take notes.  There is a lot to learn about RV’s especially if you have never owned one.  Most RV inspection companies also offer this service after you purchase if the walk through you got was not thorough enough. 

The most important part of buying an RV properly is enjoying it.

Jason Carletti

Jason Carletti

Jason and Lisa are full-time RVers and operate their small business inspecting RV’s and performing mobile RV repairs. Recently, they have inspected 100’s of brand-new RVs for FEMA disaster relief following Hurricanes Irma and Florence. Jason has worked as a technician in various industries for most of his life. He is a Certified Level 2 RV Inspector and RV Maintenance Technician. Jason was awarded NRVIA Inspector of the Month in March of 2018 and was awarded the 2018 Service Excellence Award at the annual NRVIA Inspectors Conference. Lisa’s background in healthcare aligns with the National RV Inspectors Association attention to detail. She is also an NRVIA Certified Level 2 RV Inspector and works with Jason in their small business inspecting all types of RVs from smaller towables and fifth wheels to Class A gas and Class A diesel pushers.
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