“Five, ten, fifteen, twenty!” If you watch television, you’ve probably seen Camping World’s plethora of end-of-summer advertisements. “See America for less!” That’s Camping World’s most recent boast, and many folks get excited at the thought of owning an RV. My thought? RV buyer beware! RV salesmen always have tricks up their sleeves…
Caught up in the hype
Advertisements work. The proof? Camping World’s recent ad campaigns motivated younger friends of ours to visit their local showroom. The salesman pitched this idea to them: “Just give up that one latte a day and you can travel in your very own RV this fall. Go east and see the vibrant autumn colors. Go south and escape the snow and cold of winter! And next summer? You and your family can go anywhere you like and do it all for less!” It sounded fabulous to our friends! And very doable financially—skip just one latte a day? Pay as you go. Easy, right? Not exactly. Buyer beware.
It’s not difficult to get caught up in the hype. Salespeople know how to engage your emotions and when the only thing that stands between you and a brand-new RV is a latte, purchasing a rig can seem like a no-brainer.
Don’t just trust the RV salesman: Think carefully
When our young friends approached us for advice, here’s how we dissected the salesman’s spiel.
- “It’s only $5 per day!” The question you must ask is “For how long?” Purchasing an RV should not be confused with buying a stix-n-brix home. While a permanent home likely will increase in value, the exact opposite is true for RVs. Typically, an RV quickly loses value—with depreciation as high as 20% in just the first year alone! Some folks say that rigs manufactured during the Covid years have even less longevity because of poor workmanship. You do not want to end up owing more than your RV is worth! Be sure to research the cost of insuring and storing an RV. These not-often-considered expenses can derail a budget, even if the monthly payment won’t. Many experts advise people to pay cash or forget it.
- “Travel more because you spend less!” Hotels and motels used to cost much more per night than staying in an RV park. However, with the heightened interest in RVing since Covid, many campgrounds have also raised rates, with some places increasing their fees significantly. It will cost more to travel in an RV when it comes to fuel consumption, too. Fuel prices have not returned to pre-Covid prices and may not ever. Finally, repairs and upkeep on an RV can be quite costly—especially if you’re not a do-it-yourself person with the necessary tools. Add all these considerations together and that motel room might look significantly more alluring.
- “Get a great deal on a 2022 model!” Many dealerships currently have a glut of RVs. While businesses daily receive 2024 model RVs, they’re trying to sell off the many 2022 and 2023 models that still remain on their lots. Salespeople may have incentives for folks who are willing to buy an older, but still brand-new, RV. Proceed with caution. Ask questions like: Will the warranty on a 2022 model begin from the production year or the year of purchase? Are interest rates for a 2023 model higher than the interest on the 2024s? Is the manufacturer of the 2022 RV still in business? If not, how are issues addressed?
- “Your truck should be able to handle the load.” Never take just the RV salesperson’s opinion on towing. Talk to your mechanic or truck dealership. Do your research. There’s not much worse than purchasing an RV only to find that your tow vehicle cannot safely handle the weight.
- “Our technicians check all RV systems. Don’t waste money on your own inspector.” Erm, no! Hire your own knowledgeable RV technician to go over the RV you are considering purchasing. Reputable companies will allow an independent tech this courtesy. Accompany your chosen tech as s/he inspects the rig. Information from the check may help you bargain for a better deal or disqualify the deal altogether.
- “I can only offer you this deal today.” Don’t be rushed into a decision by the RV salesman. This is true for all major purchases, but especially when considering an RV. As I mentioned, many companies have a glut of RVs on their lots, with 2024 models arriving daily. Look around. Take your time. You might find a floor plan or a price that’s better for you. Or you may decide to rent first, just to see if an RV lifestyle is for you. Regardless of what the salesman says, RVing is not for everyone.
Wait and plan
Our friends decided to do more research before purchasing an RV. They also plan to save money in order to buy rather than finance an RV. I think these are good decisions.
Do you have any additional advice for potential RV buyers? Let us know in the comments below.
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