What are the benefits of buying a used RV?
Price is the number one benefit to buying a used RV. There's also value in an RV that's been road tested for a couple of years. New RVs can sometimes have off-the-lot issues which the owners likely would have addressed when they came up.
And if you like a certain used RV but think it would be perfect with a few updates, customizing a used RV may be a better approach. Few people who buy a new RV do so with plans to renovate or customize it immediately upon purchase.
Buying a used RV checklist
Budget and financing
Having a clear idea of your budget and what you can afford in an RV is easier than ever, especially now that there's so much information available online. You should shop around for financing pre-approvals to get the best possible rate and terms.
And because a used RV is so much less expensive than a new one, your dollar's going to go much farther. You may be able to afford a range of amenities in a used RV that your budget might not allow in a new one. An important step in any used RV buying guide is checking the valuation of the RV through a site that lets you research RV models, specifications, and prices.
Renting an RV before buying
Renting is a great idea before buying your first RV. Consider renting one for the weekend if you want to find out how well a specific RV floor plan works for you, whether the sleeping accommodations are comfortable, or how easy it is to set up. Learn more about RV rental insurance.
There are multiple levels of inspections an RV can receive before its sale. The most basic is the state-mandated safety and roadworthiness inspection. An RV should be current regardless of being new or used.
A level 2 RV inspection, is performed by a certified RV inspector and can take about a day or more to complete and can even involve sending fluid samples to a lab for review. It's highly recommended for used RV purchases, whether from a dealer or a private party. Learn more about RV inspections.
Should I buy a new or used RV?
If sole ownership, longevity of ownership, financing, warranties, and latest features matter to you, you may prefer to buy a new RV instead of buying a used RV.
- Sole owner: You don't want to own an RV that's been driven or lived in by anyone else.
- Long ownership: You plan on keeping the RV for a long time, so the resale value doesn't matter as much to you.
- Financing: You can usually get lower interest rates, more options for the length of the loan term, and more down payment flexibility when financing a new RV.
- Warranties: You prefer the comfort of having a manufacturer's warranty in case any early issues appear.
- Latest features and floor plans: You want the best options available to you within your budget.
- Campground age limits: Some campgrounds have rules that prevent older model RVs from using their campgrounds. A "ten-year" rule is becoming more common at RV parks these days.
Buying a used RV
Except for the "sole owner" issue, the case for buying a used RV has compelling responses to each of those considerations.
- Long ownership: If you don't plan on selling it anytime soon, the resale value doesn't matter regardless of whether it's a new or used RV.
- Financing: Because used RVs tend to be a lot less expensive than new ones, the price difference may be more important for your budget. Also, having less to finance can reduce or even negate the financing flexibility benefit.
- Warranties: Early issues, had they appeared, would likely have been addressed under warranty.
- Latest features: You'll likely find all the options you need or care about in a used RV if you're interested in one that's three years old or less.
- Campground age limits: If you want to buy an RV that's just a few years old, the age limit shouldn't prevent you from buying used.
Questions to ask when buying a used RV
Paperwork and documentation are critical when buying a used RV. Ensure that the owner has a valid title and the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the RV matches the one on the title. Researching the title will prevent buying a stolen or salvaged vehicle. You'll also want to know whether the owner has all the maintenance records. It's important to understand how well maintained the RV has been, how often issues have occurred, and what they were.
Use and storage are also essential considerations. Lighter use is generally better. An inspection will uncover any issues that may have come up with frequent use.