April 12, 2019
Welcome, new RVers, and thanks for joining us for another great issue of our Beginner’s Guide to RVing newsletter. We look forward to getting you out on the road!
This newsletter is brought to you monthly by RVtravel.com and is funded primarily through voluntary subscription contributions from our readers. Thank you!
By Chuck Woodbury
uying a used RV is a bit like gambling: When you win, you could win big. But, there’s always the chance you could lose! Fortunately, unlike gambling, with a little homework and patience, you can dramatically increase the odds of winning.
A used RV has already depreciated considerably in value, even if it’s still the current year’s model with barely any miles. The fact is, once a new RV is driven off the sales lot, it’s a used vehicle, and its value nosedives 25 percent. That applies to all RVs, whether travel trailers, fifth wheel trailers, motorhomes, truck campers, etc.
Buying a used RV makes sense for RVers on a budget. Dollar for dollar they will get more RV for far less. Instead of a brand-new 24-foot Class C, the same investment may buy a recent model 30-foot Class A packed with extras. And if the used RV has been well cared for, it may look and drive virtually like new, and reward its new owner with years of service.
The pace of an RV’s depreciation, fast in the first few years, will be far slower in those that follow if it’s bought used. We’ve heard of RVers who bought a nice preowned RV one year and sold it a year later for the same price. Foreign visitors to America often buy a used motorhome when they arrive here, then travel a few months and sell it for what they paid, or darn close. They come out way ahead of what they would have paid for a rental.
THE MAJOR DOWNSIDE to buying used is that the rig could have hidden problems that could end up costing a lot to repair. If its roof leaked at some point, there could be rot in the frame, or mold, even though there may be no evidence (at least not on a casual inspection).
It’s essential to carefully examine a used vehicle whether it’s being purchased from a dealer or a private party. Generally, you will have some guarantee from a dealer about the quality of a used unit. If the refrigerator quits 100 miles down the road, you will likely have some recourse. But if you bought the RV from a private party, you’ll either pay for the repair yourself or dine on warm food.
The best advice on buying a used RV is to examine a potential rig carefully, from top to bottom, front to back, and inside out. If you’re not an expert on what to look for, you should definitely hire a certified inspector. To just take a fast glance and trust what you’re being told is like betting on a lame horse. You’re cruisin’ for a brusin’. Think we’re kidding? Visit our Facebook group RV Horror Stories to read the stories of people who bought without doing the proper research.
And have some patience when looking for your rig. Start your search for a trailer, fifth wheeler or motorhome well before you need it. Look at dealers’ lots and shop RV websites like RVtrader.com. Never buy something off a shopping center parking lot. Con artists operate from places like this, and you could get taken for a very bad ride.
The best deals are often on a rig being sold by a private party who bought his or her RV and then couldn’t use it, or who used it very little. Some people buy an RV for full-timing and then discover the lifestyle is not their cup of tea. So they sell their RV, sometimes in just-like-new condition. Other times, people buy on impulse and then discover they don’t have time to use the vehicle. In either case, you may “steal a deal” on a barely used RV.
If you are Internet-savvy, visit RV groups and ask the opinion of other RVers on a rig you are considering purchasing. You’ll likely have some helpful responses within 24 hours.
The main thing to remember about buying a used RV, above everything else, is to take your time and do a thorough inspection of the rig you like. Better yet, hire a professional to do it. These steps alone will go a long way to ensure you end up with an RV that will bring you great pleasure down the road.
Join Mike Sokol on Facebook Live tomorrow morning (Saturday) at 8 a.m., Pacific Time (11 a.m., Eastern), to talk about RV electricity. You do not need to be a member of Facebook to watch, just to participate in the chat.
QUESTION FOR THE EDITOR
Working while RVing
My wife and I are seriously considering purchasing an RV to hit the road, at least part time. I was wondering if you could offer some insight or sources of information on ways to earn money as we travel. I am retired but my wife is still working and I’m trying to come up with ways of earning extra money. —J.J.
The best resource for working while RVing is Workamper News. There is a membership fee, but if you are serious about earning an income on the road, it’s well worth it. Also, RVtravel.com features a weekly column on Work Camping. Read back issues here. To keep up with each new column, sign up for RV Travel’s weekly newsletter. And here’s one option for picking up some money every October: working the annual Sugar Beef Harvest in the upper Midwest. It’s hard work, but some work campers love it.
Solar basics – Know how to determine your solar system
For your RV, this article by Greg Illes, retired systems engineer and long-time RVer, is meant to be a “thousand-foot view” – a way to see the entire landscape of solar power without getting bogged down in too many details. Learn (lots) more.
Clean your RV’s interior with Baby Wipes
Baby wipes are so powerful how can they be used on babies? Really, these things have potent cleaning power. Here are many uses for these handy little wipes for inside and outside your RV. Read more.
Excellent book for new RVers
RVers Marc and Julie Bennett have penned their first book, “Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road.” It’s a great primer for beginning RVers. Read its review at RVtravel.com where it gets a “strong thumbs up.”
Always have a check list
Have a technical checklist before leaving on any trip with your RV. Included should be things like checking all fluids, tire pressures, belts and hoses, all lights on the rig, trailer brakes; and make sure all compartment doors are secured, all gauges and switches are working, registration and inspection are up to date, antennas are down, shore lines are unhooked and secured, and so on.
Keep pets restrained
Pets should be restrained while traveling in any moving vehicle. Never, ever allow a pet to travel in the front passenger seat. It’s the most dangerous seat in the house. An inflating air bag can crush an animal or small child. Seat restraints and kennels help keep our pets safe.
Brighten your taillights
Taillights can get dim from dirty contacts. Make sure there’s no power to the taillights, then pull the bulbs. Use steel wool to clean bulb contacts and base; do the same for the contacts and base of the taillight fixture.
Run the air conditioner(s) when driving in dusty or smoky conditions
If you must drive in dusty conditions (gravel road, dust storm, etc.), fire up your generator and run ALL of your roof air conditioners while driving over any dusty roads. Doing this will help keep dust from creeping in through any tiny holes. Also, if you find yourself driving through smoky conditions as a result of, for example, wildfires, running your air conditioners will help reduce the smoke and odor inside the RV. Don’t forget to check the filters on the air conditioners later. Thanks to Ron Jones, author of “All the Stuff You Need to Know about RVing.
Want more quick tips? Be sure to sign up for our RV Daily Tips newsletter, which you’ll get in your inbox every Monday-Thursday. Tons of great tips and information you won’t want to miss! Sign up here.
ATTENTION PROSPECTIVE RV BUYERS:
Join our new Facebook group, RV Advice, where prospective RV buyers can ask veteran RVers what they think of an RV they’re considering buying. Click here.
Record RVing memories in this Camping Journal
Remember all your journeys with this easy-to-fill-in format. Each journal page is complete with thoughtful prompts including: Location, Date(s), Weather, People I (We) camped with or met, What I (We) did, and Things I (We) enjoyed most. RVing is an adventure: Write it down & treasure the memory forever! Learn more or order.
What does financing an RV for 20 years REALLY mean?
In case you missed this article the first time around, here it is again. Important! Click here.
Noisy water pump? Quiet it down!
If your water pump reminds you of a jackhammer on a New York City street, you are not alone. A noisy water pump is one of the most common complaints of RV owners. There are several things that can be done to quiet it. The first step is to find the pump. Water pumps are usually tucked away in a cabinet at floor level somewhere; the noise should lead you to it.
Once the water pump has been located, check that the screws holding the pump to the floor are tight. Most water pumps are mounted on a small platform or on rubber mounts and are secured to the floor with three or four screws. The platform or mounts are supposed to keep the pump from vibrating against the floor. Check the mounts to make sure that they are not cracked, worn or missing. The pump itself cannot be insulated because the electric motor needs air circulation to keep it cool. Covering the pump may cause the motor to overheat and fail.
Next, trace the cold water line from the pump to the faucets. If it passes through a cabinet wall or is routed along a cabinet wall, the vibration of the water line may be turning the cabinets into a sounding board and amplifying the vibration and noise just like a musical instrument. Get some lengths of foam pipe insulation the correct size to fit the pipe and put it around the pipes in those places that touch or pass through the side of a cabinet. Water pipes that touch the drainpipe under a sink or shower can also create quite a racket, so put insulation in those places, too. Wrap a piece of duct tape around both ends of each piece of insulation to keep it in place.
It may take some contortions on your part to get the insulation around the water lines, since they are often routed behind drawers and at the back of cabinets. Once it is in place, the foam insulation should absorb much of the vibration of the water lines and keep the cabinets from singing.
Secrets of RVing on Social Security
Author Jerry Minchey takes you on a journey that lets you discover how you can travel around the country and live the fascinating RV lifestyle for far less than it costs to live in your sticks-and-bricks home. Among other things, he shows you step-by-step how to enjoy the RVing lifestyle while traveling and living on just your Social Security income. Learn more or order.
Money saving advice
VIN check? You may not need to spend money for a report
If you’re in the market for buying a used RV, tow vehicle, or car to tow, you may have seen the advertisements for checking up on a vehicle’s history. Some of the big names in the business are Carfax and autodna. Enter a VIN (vehicle identification number) code and if the company has records on the vehicle, hand over your cash. But here are some options to get your vehicle’s history for free.
- Buying a new RV? Be sure to check the tires!
- Think differently when buying a new RV
- Concerns of soon-to-be new RVers
- Your new RV: Where will you store it?
- New RVer asks: Should I use holding tank treatments?
- What do all these campsite utility designations mean?
VIDEO OF THE MONTH
Worst RV dealer? Hint: Its initials are CW
Our favorite RV Odd Couple (John and Mercedes) discuss why they have proclaimed a certain RV dealer the worst of the worst. If you have not yet bought your RV, this should definitely be on your “to view” list. CLICK THE PHOTO to watch the video
Joke of the Month
Traffic cop: “Your eyes are red. Have you been drinking?” Driver: “Your eyes are glazed. Have you been eating doughnuts?”
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UPCOMING RV SHOWS:
It’s always wise to attend a few RV shows before you buy — a chance to compare many RVs in one place, talk to salespeople and even factory representatives, and maybe even pick up a bargain (but not always, which is another story…). Here’s a comprehensive list of upcoming shows.
Beginner’s Guide to RVing Staff
Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Contributing writers: Russ De Maris, Bob Difley, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Mike Sokol, Greg Illes, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Emily Woodbury. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
ADVERTISE on RVtravel.com and/or in this newsletter. Contact Emily Woodbury at advertising(at)rvtravel.com .
Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com or this newsletter.
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