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Around the Campfire: Which to purchase first, the truck or the RV?

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It’s an age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Folks around the campfire changed the question to this: Which comes first, the truck or the RV? When a person decides to take the plunge and begin an RV lifestyle, should your first purchase be the truck or the RV? As you’ll see, the conversation was lively!

Truck first

“If you get your truck first, it can be your guide to buying the RV,” Stan said. “Once you know your towing capacity, that will dictate which RVs you can safely pull.”

“Getting the truck first might also save you some money,” Ron added. “A smaller, less expensive truck may mean you are limited to a smaller and less expensive RV.”

Not everyone agreed. “But then you’re stuck,” Maggie complained. “If you can’t find an RV you like within the weight parameters, you’ll end up having to upgrade to a bigger tow vehicle!”

RV first

Maggie continued, “Definitely begin by buying the RV. Then you can get all the features you want or need, like a washer and dryer, for instance. Once that big decision is made, you can buy the tow vehicle necessary.”

“Right,” Dan agreed. “Then you can buy the exact truck you need with the right tow capacity and gearing to haul your RV without any trouble.”

It depends

“For us, the financing dictated which came first,” someone else chimed in. “To be honest, it was easier to get the truck loan, so we started there.”

What about you? If you were about to begin an RV lifestyle, where would you start? What would you advise a “newbie” to do? Buy the truck or the RV first? Let us know in the comments below.

Related:

Learn from others’ RV buying mistakes

##RVT1072

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Jesse Cisneros
1 month ago

Start with the truck

Jeannine Demers
2 months ago

Twice, we had the truck first, then bought the RV, only to have to get a larger truck. When we bought our last rig, we knew we wanted a large 5th wheel, so we shopped for the truck with this in mind. At the time of purchase, we made sure the truck had the capacity to tow what we wanted. Then, we bought the RV. It was the best sequence from our past experiences.

John Koenig
2 months ago

Ideally, the RV should be purchased first. Then you will have a MUCH better idea of the weight the tow vehicle will have to SAFELY pull and control (you WILL have to guesstimate the weight of your “stuff”).

If you buy the tow vehicle first, you may well learn that it does NOT have the weight rating or power you need and, will be limited in the selection of RVs you can SAFELY pull. Remember to keep in mind that you NEED a safety factor of at least 10% (15% would be better). Also keep in mind that “flat land” towing is one thing (relatively easy). Towing in hills and mountains is QUITE a different situation. Plan for the worst possible circumstance and, you’ll be far less likely to ever find yourself in one.

NOTE: if the salesperson’s lips are moving, that’s an excellent sign that they are lying to you (“of course this truck can pull your RV Mr Jones”). Pulling is simple. CONTROLLING that big RV is an entirely a different matter. Remember Murphy’s Law.

Bill Horton
2 months ago

I bought my truck first in early 2021 because of the great financing at the time. However I had already found a small (20 foot) trailer that ‘ticked’ all my boxes. After buying the pickup, I was astoundingly lucky and found a good used trailer of the same model I had previously looked at. I felt like I had really scored! Only regret was wishing I had gotten the “e-torque” system for the truck.

Karen Bates
2 months ago

We bought the truck first, only because we had done our research on Rvs and knew what we were looking for in an rv. With hindsight beng 20/20, if we were doing it today, we would definitely buy a DRW!

Marybeth
2 months ago

You can’t have too much truck!

L Beal
2 months ago

We researched which RV we wanted first. That took about a year.
When we made a decision we researched how big the truck needed to be to pull the RV.
Armed with this information we looked for the right truck, which took many months. Once we purchased the truck, then the search for the RV, at the right price, began.
It is a good thing we bought the truck first, since we bought it in ID and the RV in western Oregon.
We are very happy with our choices, we wouldn’t change anything, and our time, research, and patience were very rewarded.
Recently, we met a couple who followed the information about buying the RV first. Well, that went great but it took them months to find a truck to buy, since they are in short supply. They were so desperate they spent thousands more on the truck than they had planned.
So, my five cents, find out which RV feels like home first! Then buy a truck and drive to the RV dealer to buy it!

Shelley
2 months ago

Buy as big of a truck as you can afford and then buy the RV it can ‘safely’ pull/tow and most importantly, ‘stop’!!!

Neal Davis
2 months ago

For a newbie, buy the truck. It has uses as a truck. Buy a truck you can afford with options you want. If you also want to RV, then consider whether a truck camper, bumper-pull, or 5th wheel works for you AND your truck. Make sure your choices are guided by the capability of the truck. Once you’ve selected and bought an RV that your truck can handle, see if you really enjoy RVing. If the RV works for you, then you’re done; enjoy. If you want bigger, better, or different in the RV, then also make sure that you can concurrently buy an appropriately sized truck, presuming your present one won’t. Overall start small. If you don’t like RVing, then you have less to liquidate and more potential buyers to acquire your RV (and truck?).

Heather
2 months ago

At least for those in the market for 5th wheels or especially truck campers, it can make more sense to decide on the make & model RV first, so you are sure the truck you get has the right measurements to either haul a fiver or carry a camper.

For example, if I wanted a mid-sized to heavy fiver, I’d choose a 450/4500 truck. If I wanted a large Lance or Host camper, I’d feel safer if I went heavier with the truck, so I’d lean towards a 550/5500.

AnnP
2 months ago

I researched options for over a year. My choices were colored by 9 years traveling in a1990 Toyota motorhome. I knew I didn’t need much more in terms of space, but I wanted more flexibility about where I could go. And be able to boondock for several weeks at a time. I settled on a Chevy Colorado truck with 4wd and an rPod trailer. Traded my Subaru in on the truck and paid cash for the trailer. Picked them up on the same day! That was over 5 years ago, I’ve made several long trips of 3 months or more and am very happy with it. With solar and generator I have boondocked in the desert for 2 weeks before having too dump and fill tanks.

Bob p
2 months ago

For the newbies, don’t buy a trailer based on advertised towing capacity! Truck manufacturers base their advertised towing specs on a base line no additional options 2 door standard cab truck. If you’re satisfied with this configuration go for it, but if you’re like most people you’ll upgrade to a truck with much more style and options, you need to very carefully check out the load carrying and tow capacity because you can be very surprised. The experts say don’t buy a trailer that weighs more than 10% of the trucks rating, I prefer to stay 15% away and have never been surprised towing up a mountain or handling an emergency stop. That’s where the towing capacity rears it ugly head, towing is the easy part, stopping is the hard part.

MattD
2 months ago

I started with a truck first, sleeping in the back at the lake because I always towed a boat. Over the years I kind of evolved from truck to camper to truck to camper, always getting larger and more powerful. Although now, I have downsized from 5er to TT again, but I’ve kept my F250 diesel. I’ll never downsize my truck… Now boat? that’s a different story!

Gary
2 months ago

We studied what our expectations would be when we started exploring our rv future. We had an idea about what we wanted in an rv as far amenities we might need. Based on that we decided to purchase as much truck as we could afford. We then used the truck to narrow down our search for the most accessorized rv we could afford. That was six years ago and that decision worked out quite well. We are now looking to move to a class A or C with a toad next year.

Dana Lakeman
2 months ago

If you buy the TT or 5th wheel first, you may not be able to find a truck these days to pull it. I had to travel 1000 miles last October to buy my 2022 RAM 2500 at a reasonable price. With an almost 20k lbs tow capacity I could buy almost any RV I wanted. Seems dealer lots are full of RV’s lately so unless you aren’t flexible on what you want you should be able to find an RV. I found my latest TT in Sweatwater, TX (online). It was discounted $10,000 and delivered to my door (1009 miles to my house).

Bob p
2 months ago
Reply to  Dana Lakeman

I know where Sweetwater is, but Sweatwater is new to me. Lol

Jim Johnson
2 months ago

It’s not a blind decision. You have to plan for both simultaneously. Once you have done that it doesn’t matter which you buy first …. but know if you don’t already have the truck, you’ll have to pay somebody to make that first move of the trailer off the lot.

We went a different direction. We bought the big trailer and had it commercially moved to the RV park where we leave it as a seasonal residence. We never did buy the big truck. If we want to move the trailer, all those savings way more than cover paying to have the trailer moved. …and there is another part to this story. We do still want to travel. We bought a reasonably tow capable SUV and a much smaller, but still self-contained trailer. The SUV overall costs less than the dully truck to own & operate on an everyday basis. The smaller trailer is great not only for non-full time travel, but serves nicely as a ‘rolling hotel room’ for the seasonal migration.

Jim Prideaux
2 months ago

Truck first! You can’t tow the trailer without it! 🙂 Did both a few years ago. Shopped one with the other in mind. Looked at weights and lengths of trailers. Got an idea of what I wanted would weigh. Shopped trucks. This was easy. Bought the truck with the highest capacities in the class I was looking for. Then went back to picking a trailer which was all about floorplans and features. Ordered the trailer and drove the truck to the dealership to tow it away.

Kathy C.
2 months ago

Seems like people are talking gvwr. Which is essential but also take into consideration MOST national parks will not allow anything over 40 feet (trailer). Also, even if you have a 1-ton diesel (as my husband and I have), you can tow almost anything.

Ron
2 months ago

Shop for the rv you want but don’t buy until you have a truck which can legally handle the fully loaded weight

Tom H.
2 months ago

We were in the truck first camp. My wife told me “buy whatever truck you will need to tow whatever 5th Wheel I decide on”. How lucky am I? I got my Ram 3500 Big Horn Dually 6.7L Diesel 4×4!! 😁

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