RV Buying Tips

RV Buying Tips

  • If you are purchasing a towable RV, a travel trailer or 5th wheel that is towed behind another vehicle,  the most important tip is sizing your tow vehicle to the weight of your RV. Ensure that your tow vehicle can easily handle the fully loaded weight of your RV. I have heard too many people be concerned about being able to climb a steep grade on a mountain pulling the weight of an RV but it is more important that the vehicle get you down the other side safely. This is also true of a motorhome pulling a tow vehicle (toad or dinghy).


  •  When considering an RV to purchase, try to have some time alone in the RV without a salesman. Mimic some of your every day routines. Lie on the bed, stand in the shower, “brush your teeth”, etc. Some RVs will place the toilet in a separate room. Many people like this configuration but depending on your body size, this may not work for you so sit on the toilet with the lid down. Some RVs will also have the sink in that same separate area. Is there enough elbow room to perform your daily tasks such as brushing your teeth, shaving, drying your hair in a small enclosed area?


  • When purchasing an RV, have the dealer or previous owner explain and demonstrate how everything works in the RV. Take notes as there will be a lot of information if you are new to RVing. If possible, take a video of the demonstration to refer to later.


  • Tires on many RVs don’t get the road use as your personal vehicle. Most tires will need to be replaced due to age and UV exposure vs. wear. Tires on an RV should be replaced every 6 years but no more than 7 years. If you are purchasing a used RV, make sure of the age of the tires. The date code will be on the tire. The Tire Tech website at www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=11  provides an excellent description of the tire dating code. You may want to negotiate on the price of the RV if the tires are due to be replaced.


  • As I write this, our country is still in a recession which has not left the RV industry unscathed. There have been some RV manufacturers who have filed for bankruptcy or reorganization, a few who have been bought by other companies and some who are discontinuing particular product lines. Though I have heard of some incredible RV deals folks are getting, you want to ensure the financial soundness of the manufacturer of the RV you are considering and the RV dealer. You also want to ensure any warranties/guarantees will be honored for the length of time offered.


  • Whether your new RV is a towable that you will pull with your tow vehicle or a motorhome pulling your automobile, truck or SUV, you have to be comfortable driving the total length of your RV and vehicle. I have heard of people who purchase a large RV for the room inside only to be scared to death of the size and not use it and, in a short time, trade it in for a smaller RV. When you are considering an RV purchase, ask the sales person at the dealership or the individual you are purchasing it from to let you test drive it. Ask for an experienced RV driver at the dealership to go with you as they can give you some driving tips which could make you feel more comfortable.


  • When shopping for an RV or at the very least when you have narrowed your search down to a few, take the kids or other traveling passengers with you. Everyone should be in the RV at the same time to determine maneuverability with everyone on board. Do you feel like you are tripping over each other? If you have pets that will travel with you in a crate, bring a measuring tape with you and measure out the area required for the size crate or tape together sheets of paper in the size of the footprint of the crate or find a cardboard box the approximate size of the crate that you can break down and set up in the RV you are considering. This will give you a good visual of how much floor space the crate will take.


  • Obviously, there is a big difference in the amount of clothing, food, shoes, toiletries, food and supplies required for two people using an RV for weekend getaways and a family of four with two dogs who want to travel across country for an extended vacation. Make sure the RV has enough storage for your situation but never exceed the weight limitations established by the manufacturer.


  • Though the goal may be to have all meals outside on a picnic table, weather and other factors can force meal times inside the RV so make sure the kitchen table configuration fits your family. The two common type of kitchen configurations found in RVs are the bench style or traditional table and chairs. Many times the bench style seating will have storage underneath and can be converted to an extra bed. Do you need those features or will your family more comfortable with the table and chairs configuration even though it means losing storage and/or a bed. Look at RV floorplans with both configurations to help you decide.


  • If you are used to sleeping on a king size mattress at home because you are over 6’ tall, a full size bed may not be a comfortable size for you in an RV. If the mattress is too soft or too hard, it can be changed to a mattress you prefer. If the bed for children is a pull out couch in the RV, pull it out and make sure the kids will be comfortable.


  • Slide-outs are a great way to increase your indoor living space. Tour some RV floorplans with slide-outs if you are looking for more room.


Recommended RV Park Discount Club

Featured Destination

Yellowstone National Park is my favorite national park so far. There is such a variety of things to see at Yellowstone including wildlife and geological wonders. To fully appreciate the park, you will probably want to spend more than one day as the park is very large. Be sure to see Old Faithful geyser.


Purchases made through links provided on this website may result in a commission being paid to the website owner.