Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Hubby wants to buy new RV; wife wants used. What’s an RVer to do?

How do you vote? No, I’m not talking politics here. I’m wondering about your preference: new or used? I think a lot has to do with the way you grew up. And one notion is neither right nor wrong compared to the other. My hubby grew up “new” all the way. His family, though not wealthy, operated with the notion: “Let’s not buy someone else’s problems. We’ll get new.” As for me – well, I definitely grew up with the “used” mindset: “Why pay for something that immediately loses value once you drive it off the lot?” The new-or-used mindset has caused many discussions during our enduring (and endearing) marriage. I should have guessed it would eventually enter into the topic of RVs.

The search for new

Last summer, the Derecho (inland hurricane-force storm) blew our new RV over. It was a total loss. Though no one was hurt, I realized the new versus used conversation was inevitable. And I dreaded it. After a depressing trip through our local RV dealer’s lot, we both agreed to see what “pre-owned” rigs were available.

The search for used

We searched online for days. And then? The exact make and model of the RV we’d lost in the storm popped up in our search! Wow! It seemed like a no-brainer to me. We could spend a lot less time considering floor plans because we’d already lived in this model. It would take me all of ten minutes to pack the unit with our necessities because I’d been there and done that! We knew our truck would easily pull this fifth wheel because we’d pulled its exact twin down the road for several months! And the best part? The “used” RV was in Colorado. Can you say, “Road trip”? I was sold!

Decisions, decisions…

Hubby, on the other hand, needed time to consider the many ramifications of buying “used.” He spoke with the RV owner several times over the course of two full weeks. He asked for maintenance records, the number and types of trips taken, and much, much more! And then? The Colorado owner mentioned those magical words: Transferable Extended Private Warranty. While not big proponents of such things, it finally tipped the scales toward our “used” decision. We traveled to Colorado, purchased the RV, and have had no problems … so far.

What a difference a year makes! RV dealers’ lots are barren. Used RVs are selling well above their original list price from a few years ago. Demand is off the charts and availability is hard to find. Within all of this is our “new normal.”

Where do you stand? New or used? Maybe I should include “first available” as an option. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


What you should know about buying a used RV


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.



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Karen Bates (@guest_219266)
10 months ago

We bought used and could not be happier! We looked at new but the prices were just so much more than we wanted to pay. We found a preowned in excellent shape, exactly what we were looking for, at almost half the price!!

Bob Lovinger (@guest_218949)
10 months ago

For people new to RVing, I suggest a used unit to learn on. That said, the dealer is very important to make sure the unit is delivered in good shape. There are dealer chains that only care to shove RVs out the door. An extended warranty is a good investment as is a good insurance policy. Buy them separately unless you know who you are dealing with. I assume no names are allowed here. if you can find a good mechanic to check the unit over, it’s worth the time and money. After a good amount of experience the next unit can be used or new. Our current coach was ordered at a customer rally and while we had to wait a long time, we got exactly what we wanted in terms of available colors and a minor modification to install a shoe closet. It’s also important to consider how much use you will have. A unit used for 2 weeks a year is a different breed of cat compared to one used for weeks at a time. Finally find information RV forums (like this one) so you can learn from others. It’s cheaper

Ray (@guest_218942)
10 months ago

With the year under your belt, it sounds like you made the right decision. That new feeling can subside quickly if it’s shrouded with issues.

Bob M (@guest_218920)
10 months ago

My 1st travel trailer, Keystone Outback 240 URS was used and two years old. Had issues with the fridge which worked at the dealer. But stopped working the week It was brought home. Dealer had a hard time isolating problem, cost around $800. to fix Dometic fridge. Had one of the ceiling panels falling from the ceiling, Formica under one ceiling cabinet over bed was falling down. Stove for outside kitchen came apart from fold up mounting door. Dealers give no warranty on used or if lucky 30-day warranty. Priced a used 2021 Outdoors Travel Trailer last month and dealer wouldn’t give any warranty and wanted as much as it was new. For $3000. more one dealer had a new one, other dealers wanted $10,000. more for a new one. JD Powers showed the used value as $28,000. Which seemed low.

kat (@guest_218919)
10 months ago

Used house (we gutted and remodeled), used car, used travel trailer (we made a few changes). With depreciation so high the minute you drive a vehicle off the lot we go new, let someone else pay the depreciation. We went to a lot of RV shows, saw what was a available and I made of list of what I wanted and what was a deal breaker. There was only one compromise on my list (I wanted shower no tub) and it truly wasn’t a big deal. What we ended up with exceeded our expectations at an extremely reasonable price! Certainly wouldn’t want to shop for anything big now in today’s market!

wanderer (@guest_204510)
1 year ago

I know it is smarter to buy used, but I have wound up buying new because I needed a particular floorplan or innovation, not available on the used market. Anyone who goes this route, just be prepared to pay cash for repairs, and do lots of fixes yourself, since warranty work is often impossible or shoddy.

STEVE (@guest_218935)
10 months ago
Reply to  wanderer

Why is it smarter to buy used? Some say that any problems have been worked out or fixed but old problems can come back or new problems can arise.

Ron Hale (@guest_204195)
1 year ago

My first was used. Was in as new condition. Performed well, and provided miles of enjoyment. Have since owned 4 new rigs. One travel trailer, two Class A, and one Class C.
Have had very few problems with any of them.

Gary G (@guest_204191)
1 year ago

We found a 2006 Country Coach, by accident went to wrong dealer with somewhat close to same name. It had the perfect floor plan and engine for us and looked new condition. Love this rv. If this isn’t allowed delete this comment. We purchased from Premier RV of Oregon in Junction City, OR. What a great group of folks to buy from and work with.

RV Staff
1 year ago
Reply to  Gary G

It’s allowed, Gary. No problem. We’re glad to hear good news. Have a great day. 😀 –Diane

Kathy Niemeyer (@guest_146968)
2 years ago

We bought a used 1968 Shasta travel trailer in 1980. We had it for 20 years! We sold it and bought a 2002 Shasta Class C in 2015. We bought it to learn on as we had rented Class C a few times and knew that we didn’t want to pull a trailer anymore. We bought a new 2020 in February, 2020, (was delivered to dealership in Spring of 2019), because we are now retired and wanted to have new. We plan on keeping this unit for at least 10 years so the depreciation isn’t something we are worried about. We feel we got a great deal because the dealership owner had used this unit on a family vacation and put 5K miles on it. They took 12K off the price. In the meantime, Covid hit and new units are being put together very crappy to get them on the road as soon as possible. We had an email from the dealership 3 months ago asking if we were interested in selling our unit back to them. They offered more than we paid for it!!! We could have pocketed 8K as we paid cash for this unit.

RV Staff
2 years ago
Reply to  Kathy Niemeyer

What savvy (and lucky) RV shoppers and owners! We hope you have many happy and carefree years and miles RVing in your retirement! Take care. 🙂 –Diane

DL Jenson (@guest_146729)
2 years ago

We have bought two trailers, one a 1991 in 2008 and in great shape but just a bit too small. Bought a new small 5th wheel in 2010 and still have with at least 40,000 miles on it so far. If you’re going to take care of it and keep it a long time that is not losing money. Our first one sold for more than what we paid for it and that wasn’t money lost either. Good luck!

Lucinda R Shaw (@guest_146562)
2 years ago

7 class A mohos, a popup, 4 tagalons, and a 5er, All used and only two that I regretted, the 5er, I just don’t care for them. And a class A, The rest were great.

Bill Massicotte (@guest_146558)
2 years ago

I would definitely buy used and broken in! Any problems resolved and rig maintained.
As such, I am selling my used Class A on RV Trader. Check it out.
2017 Coachmen Pursuit 30 ft with 24,600 miles listed at 74,500. Very reasonably priced when you look at what others are selling for! See ya.

Susan Smith (@guest_146545)
2 years ago

Both my hubby and I wanted a used RV because of the depreciation factor that happens when you buy new and drive it off the lot. We’ve only dealt with a small out-of-state used RV dealership when we purchased 3 used RVs in different years and then trading off 2 of those RVs. The only thing my husband ever bought new was a 1978 Ford pickup which he paid cash for before we were married, otherwise, all of our other vehicles and the RVs have been used.

Judy Robinson (@guest_146516)
2 years ago

We have bought used and new. Private sales and reason for selling is important. My son bought 5th wheel from elderly couple who could not travel anymore for health reasons. Very good buy. One new we brought was nothing but problems. We then went for new but last year model and did great.

Alex (@guest_146513)
2 years ago

Having owned used trailers and a Class C motorhome, I regretted buying a new Class C (the Benz star looked really good but the RV part and dealer support very flaky!).. If you see the used RV at the seller’s home, you can usually tell whether they’ve maintained it well by the condition of their home: lawn, other vehicles, paint etc. Also, determine how long they’ve owned it and reason for sale. If they’re knowledgeable about functionality of their RV and you believe they’ve got a legitimate motive for selling, you’re not likely to be disappointed. If the location isn’t up to your standards, the ownership was brief, owner not confident explaining functionality and the condition of the RV is marginal, consider it a red flag. Even with that, it’s a good idea to find internet reviews of that particular brand/model where you’re likely to find pros and cons. Following those suggestions should make you and your wallet smile!

Robert Heacock (@guest_146510)
2 years ago

Our friend bought a new 2019 Fleetwood Flair class A motorhome. She’s had nothing but problems. First, there was a water leak in the bathroom, which necessitated the tear-out and installation of a new floor. Now, two years alter, all the screws (40 of them) which attach her slideout have rotted. The screw heads have broken off, so the slide doesn’t work any more. She’s got to have it fixed, then she’s selling it. If you can find a used one with low miles, and you know the service history, that’s the way to go. It seems like around 2015, the quality of new RV’s started to go downhill.

Engineer (@guest_146476)
2 years ago

I would never buy a used Class A coach…knowing the manufacturer, service capabilities of your dealer and reputation serve as the basis for purchase. Basing your decision solely on the price is the biggest mistake ever. Having owned multiple new Class A coaches without any issues has been our experience based on solid research, and solid relationship with our dealer

Jim Prideaux (@guest_146473)
2 years ago

My dad always said when you by used you are buying someone else’s problems. Also if the used unit was really a sweet deal a friend or family member would have gotten it. I like to buy new mostly because I want something with features and options I want and don’t want to get something where previous owner broke something and hid it. That being said I would be interested in the mythical garaged unit that was used one time over a sunny weekend at a campground just down the road by owners who decided RVing wasn’t for them. Providing of course the unit was something I would mostly custom order anyway.

TIM MCRAE (@guest_146472)
2 years ago

I think we are up to 6 now. All except the Coleman popup and a tent were used. I paid less for a like new 35 footer (private sale) than the new popup!

We have paid less, combined, for all 3 of our MH’s, which were all like new, than the depreciation on one new one. And we got more than we paid for each one when we sold it.

Very few repairs. All minor. Feeling like our luck can’t last forever we did buy direct a WW warranty this last time as we feel like we will have this one a long time.

It was less than 10% of our used price.

Montgomery D. Bonner (@guest_146463)
2 years ago

In today’s climate, find a good used one, and that will not be on a dealers lot, private party, and once you see inside you will know how well it’s been taken care of. Is it in private storage covered, pride of ownership, outside in the elements, hmmmm. Look in every cabinet for water stains, look for same in all outside compartments. Check tire dates, you don’t want to be faced with new tires in this climate when impossible to find. If you have never driven RV before, get some Big Rig Training, you life will love you for doing that.

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