Should you buy a damaged RV and fix it up yourself?

By Steve Savage
Mobility RV Service
For the majority of folks, buying a damaged RV and fixing it up themselves is an absolutely terrible idea.

Why do I say that? Several reasons come to mind. First, many units — sold by insurance companies, for example — come with a salvage title. State laws vary as to what is needed to get that title changed to a standard title. I advise folks buying salvage to pay no more than 50 percent of what you would expect to pay for the same unit with a clear title. This is, if you never intend to resell it, maybe. Everyone else has been warned!

Secondly, many shoppers, especially first-time buyers, do not have the remotest idea what goes into deconstructing and rebuilding an RV. The route they most often take is to cover up soft floors with laminate flooring, while attempting to panel over walls that have delaminated due to moisture penetration. There is a saying about putting lipstick on a pig that applies in these situations.

Finally, doing a proper rebuild does not come cheaply, and the parts to do it do not come from Lowe’s or Home Depot. It’s sad to see someone come onto the lot hoping to sell something into which they sank thousands of dollars and they find that, at most, it will sell for half of what they have spent on parts, not to mention the time invested.

Cutting to the chase: Just as with anything in life, if you don’t have the skills and knowledge to take on a task, you’ll likely come out better just buying a unit needing no more than a good cleaning. Most RVs that sell very cheaply do so because they need repair and are still priced too high!

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