Sunday, January 29, 2023


RV shopping? Think used!

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Thinking about buying a new RV? We don’t mean “new to you,” but rather, brand-new, fresh from the factory new. There are advantages, sure enough, but there are also drawbacks, which we’ve heard a lot about lately.

David Prasad on

A few years back, in the dark corners of the “Great Recession,” buying a new RV was kind of a crapshoot. A lot of RV manufacturers went down the drain and shuttered their factories. This left folks with a seemingly-new RV, and an in-force warranty in a pickle. If nobody stepped up to the plate and assumed the warranty, well, they were just up the creek. Happily, it seems we’re past the days of “building today, bankrupt tomorrow,” so the warranty is probably worth a bit more than the price of the paper it’s printed on.

Still, even with a new rig and a warranty, life isn’t always a bed of roses. Tap in on the conversations on RV forums and you’ll find a common denominator among ‘brand new’ RV buyers: Repeated returns to the dealers to fix things that should never have had to be fixed in the first place. Sad to say, industry-wide, quality control is just NOT a big thing. Buy new, expect that your rig will spend time back at the dealer getting things fixed. If you bought from a “local” dealer, then you’ll likely find it a lot easier to live with this situation.

If you bought on price-point and, say, drove 1,000 miles or even more to buy from a dealer to save big bucks, you may find a problem. If you bought from Sam 1,000 miles away, don’t bet that Fred the Dealer in your hometown is going to bend over backwards to get your rig into the shop to fix it – warranty or not. You may find you’ll be standing in line a long time, waiting, while your precious vacation time fritters away.

Putting the warranty issue aside, then there’s that little thing called “depreciation.” Face it, when you buy an RV, you will NEVER get anything close to what you paid for the rig back when you sell it or trade it, even if it’s just a few months down the road. It’s like buying a car – drive it off the lot, drop the value in a hurry.

So what’s the alternative? Buying a gently used, older RV may be the trick. Let the original owner waste his time waiting for his rig to come back from the dealer “getting the bugs worked out.” Let some other poor schlep be the guy who paid dearly for the status of having a “brand-new RV” watch his interest payments balloon, paying for depreciation.

Of course, you buy used, you’ve likely bought without warranty. That means, set a little money aside to have that “older but wiser” RV properly inspected. Top to bottom, side to side, and all appliances in safe, working condition. No water leakage. Good rubber on the road. Wheel bearings packed and brakes in good condition. No, it may not have that “factory fresh formaldehyde” essence but, hey, you may have saved yourself thousands of dollars, and months of frustration.

#rvt756 #RVDT1208


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3 years ago

I respectfully disagree. I think it depends on the dealership and the buyer. And the manufacturer. We are on our third new Class A. The first had some issues but we became smarter buyers. Our second and now third coach have been excellent. On our last purchase we spent two days at the dealership going through all of the systems successfully. We spent one weekend camping locally and then left on a 8,000+ mile, 3+ month trip. We did have a couple of cosmetic items that needed to be addressed when we returned but we have a manufacturer who stands behind their products with a two year warranty. We like being the original owner – no one else slept in our bed or used the facilities. We bought used twice. I don’t want to clean up someone else’s dirt and stains again. The difference in money isn’t enough for me to buy what could be someone else’s problems.

3 years ago

We have always purchased NEW! We are now on our 8th and final RIG! Had this one for almost 5 years and most everything is working fine.

Maintaining the RIG is the key. Most people who purchase RV’s DO NOT know how to care for an RV and thus let it just go to CRAP! As I often say, “IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHICH END OF A SCREWDRIVER TO USE, THEN MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T BUY AN RV”! You have to have some mechanical knowledge and be willing to work on your RV and do preventative maintenance on your RIG!

Owning an RV is a hands on ownership! You can’t just park it in your yard, use it a couple of times a year and expect it to last. People buy RV’s and realize they made a HUGE mistake and the RV just sits and slowly falls apart, Leaky roofs and many other problems. And this is what gets covered up by dealers and you the USED buyer get a PILE OF JUNK!

Before buying ANYTHING, you should consider RENTING, whether that be a Travel Trailer or Motorhome. Take a few trips and see if RVing is something you want to do! Renting is the BEST way to determine if you want to OWN an RV! Then you can start looking for ENTRY Level used RV’s! But, make sure you have the RV inspected by a Certified Inspector. The Inspection Cost is minimal and can save you headaches down the road (no pun intended)! If a USED RV Dealer won’t let you have the RV inspected, DON’T JUST WALK AWAY, BUT RUN! An honest dealership, should not have a problem with you having the RV inspected by a 3rd party!

In the RV buying industry, it is always “BUYER BEWARE”!

Take Care.

3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

Right on Jeff: Except I would remove the word “maybe” from the screwdriver comment. Rv’s, of whatever type/style, are complicated machines with many disciplines involved in their maintenance, care and feeding. Buyer beware with due diligence and in-depth research should be the by-words!

Bill Tucker
6 years ago

Good article, but you didn’t mention the fact that used RV’s, even when buying from a dealer, generally are in poor condition for cleanliness, body rust and damaged and with mouldy appliances and fixtures. When my wife and I were looking to upgrade our fifth wheel to a motorhome, we looked at several dealer and private sellers and found 2 &3 year old rigs on RV dealer lots in horrible and disgusting shape, not to mention private sellers who are trying to recoup depreciation losses by selling at ridiculously high prices. We bought new because it was clean and had the features and lay out we wanted. Let’s face it, when you plan to spend big bucks for an RV, having a $20000 difference between new an used is not that big of a stretch. I believe if your primary concern, when purchasing RV’s is depreciation and gas mileage, perhaps buying an RV is not for you. Warranty issues with new RV’s, like buying a new car, comes with the territory. Doing a good PDI inspection when you pick up your new rig, to have issues corrected, at the time of delivery, helps prevent unnecessary trips back to the dealer. Safe travels everyone.

6 years ago
Reply to  Bill Tucker

What you say applies to 2 to 3 year old units, which are probably being sold for reasons not conducive to being well cared for. We look in the 9 to 10 year old range, usually under 50,000 miles but over 25,000 so things have been exercised, at a quarter to a third of the original cost, and new enough to buy an after-market warranty.

Bob Gash
3 years ago
Reply to  bill

We bought our first Class A in the condition you describe (42K miles, 8 years old, etc…). Unbeknownst to us, the unit had sat near the Atlantic for 5 years – hidden corrosion and damage throughout the coach (we had it inspected – no way to find stainless screws rusted in half, suspension pieces corroded inside, etc…).

In addition, the guy was evidently a ham operator, and had done his own “custom” wiring hidden behind a number of panels. Overall, a total nightmare – we traded it in after only 3 months on a new Tiffin.

We bought our current coach (Entegra Aspire) new in 2017 (after the 18s had come out), and it came with a bumper-to-bumper 2-year factory warranty. During our 2nd year (free) inspection at their factory, we only had a list of 14 items – all of which were promptly taken care of.

For us, after our first nightmare, never used again!

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