What do you really know about RV ownership? And, what do you need to know? If you have owned one before, you are way ahead of the game. But, if you have never owned one before, you may need some guidance.
RV Ownership 101
We offer some important things to know before you buy an RV.
- Take your time. Smart buyers take a year or more doing their homework and do thorough research before buying. It is a good idea to research the smaller details and not depend only on appearance. A study done in 2018 noted that inexperienced buyers purchased an RV based on appearance and floor plan alone, without taking time to notice cheap components like an off-brand water pump, substandard plumbing or cabinets stapled to the walls.
- Find out what others who own RV’s have to say. Research RV Clubs or RV associations of owners and find out what other owners like and don’t like about the RV’s they’ve purchased. You can even rent an RV first and try it out so you can see if it suits your needs before you commit to purchasing it.
- Don’t Pay Retail! This is good advice when it comes to new RV purchases. If you are quoted a price, figure you can negotiate this price down as much as 30-35% off the MSRP, especially if it is a crowded lot or the last of the month or the end of the year, when sales departments need to make their sales quotas. And if they won’t deal, be willing to walk away. Go to a different dealer. Or, consider a refurbished RV from a reputable dealer.
- There can be problems, even with new RV’s. There is a big push for producing RV’s and sometimes this can lead to mistakes and production shortcuts. “RVs are often shipped to dealers without a final inspection,” says Chuck Woodbury, editor at RV Travel, an RV news and information website. “And even if they are inspected, dealers are expected to fix what is wrong before selling them, which some do and some don’t.” New coaches can also have “lot rot,” water damage from going unchecked for sealant leaks for months on dealer lots, according to James West, owner of The Kilted Tech RV Repair. “We recommend purchasing a $50-$90 moisture meter and checking the interior,” says West. Anything registering over 20 percent on the meter is wet and should be repaired.
- Consider buying used: RV’s are definitely a luxury that depreciates quickly. An RV loses at least 25% of its value as soon as you drive it off the lot. buying an RV that’s a few years old from an owner with records showing the vehicle was well maintained. But here’s the secret: used campers are often a better bet, and not just financially. Given you’re looking at used campers that have been well maintained, are in good repair, and free of water damage, you often get added value from the previous owner’s customizations and fixes.
- Repairs are Expensive and Mechanics Hard to Find. “There is a great shortage of RV repair shops, says Laura Nunemaker, an RV “full-timer” who lives and works remotely with her husband Kevin in their 2003 Winnebago Adventurer. “If you need work done, plan ahead. Most shops are booking at least two to four weeks out.”
- Annual Maintenance is Costly. Most RVs can last up to 15 years if general maintenance is performed, says West. You’ll need to set aside at least a couple thousand dollars for annual RV maintenance and repairs. A sealant inspection of moldings, windows, doors and hatches is crucial every spring and fall. Other maintenance costs include brakes, bearings, bushings, sealant work, a propane gas test and general wear and tear repairs. Tires are pricey. Six tires for a 32-foot Winnebago can run $500 apiece.
- Don’t get us wrong: There are plenty of ways to make RVing a super-frugal and cost-effective travel lifestyle, whether you’re on the road full time or just a weekend warrior. But you should know from the get-go that it’s just as easy to drain your bank account on your new travel vehicle if you’re not careful! We are not trying to talk you out of RV Ownership. It can be such a pleasure to take off in your own RV whenever you want and drive the open road. The experience of traveling together as a family in an RV is something your entire family will remember and cherish for their whole lives.
Remember, El Monte RV Sales offers a wide variety of sizes and types of Refurbished RV’s to consider when you decide to purchase your own RV. These have been carefully taken care of for their entire life and we perform top to bottom inspections and maintenance before offering them for sale. We also have many more tips to help you plan for and have a very happy trip!