Posted by: Mark Polk | 5:00 am

What to Avoid When Buying an RV

Purchasing a Recreation Vehicle (RV) is the second largest purchase many people will make in their lifetime. When you make the decision to spend that kind of money, it’s important you make wise RV buying decisions. I have witnessed many poor RV buying decisions during my time in this industry and I would like to offer some pointers on how you can avoid some of these pitfalls.

First on my list is making a hasty buying decision. What this means is purchasing an RV without doing any research beforehand. Hasty buying decisions are common in a high pressure selling environments. This is especially true when a salesperson tells you prices are only good for today, or once this model is gone we can’t get another one like it. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. Lots of folks purchase RVs at RV shows where the excitement level is high only to discover later it is the wrong type, too big, too small or too expensive. Whatever the circumstances are, a hasty buying decision can be a costly mistake.

That leads me to the next mistake people make. When I sold RVs it was common for people to be a bit intimidated by the size of RVs. The thought of towing a 30-foot trailer can be intimidating, so RV buyers decide on a 24-foot model instead. I tried to explain to folks, when you tow a trailer you don’t really notice a difference between a 24-foot or 30-foot trailer. Sure it is heavier, but with the proper tow vehicle and hitch components the length of the trailer is not a major factor to base the RV buying decision on. This is true with motorhomes too. I can’t tell you how many people purchase an RV and after driving or towing it came back to the dealership wanting something larger. This is another expensive proposition.

Next on my list is buying the right type of RV to suit your needs. There are many types of RVs to choose from, and you need to make sure you purchase the type best suited for you and your needs. It’s important you consider how you plan to use the RV. If you like to explore the back roads, or camp in state parks a 40-foot motorhome is a bad choice. In this situation a pop-up or truck camper makes more sense. On the other hand, if you plan to travel cross-country in the RV a 5th wheel trailer or motorhome would work better. Think about how you plan to use the RV, how many people will be staying in it, and what your budget is prior to selecting the type of RV best suited for your needs.

Next on my list is your budget. You want enough money left over each month to use and enjoy the RV. Before you purchase your RV factor in the monthly payment, RV insurance and upkeep and then determine how much you can afford to pay without getting in a bind.

If you purchase a travel trailer or 5th wheel trailer it’s extremely important the tow vehicle can safely handle the weight of the trailer. I always tell folks to find the trailer you want, then get a tow vehicle capable of handling the weight. If you already own the vehicle you plan to tow with you need to base the size and weight of the trailer on that vehicle. A quick and easy method I suggest for matching a tow vehicle and trailer is to find a trailer with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) less than or equal to the vehicle’s tow capacity. In this case, even if the trailer is fully loaded to the GVWR the tow vehicle is still rated to handle the weight.


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