RV Buying Tips

RV River

Let’s look at buying a New RV vs. a Used RV


Brand New RV’snew 2

I have never purchased a Brand New RV. In fact, I have never even purchased a Brand New Car. I have always bought used or lightly used Cars, Boats and RV’s. If you are looking to buy an RV and you don’t know which way to go, I can point out some very important points you should consider. The biggest point is the price. New RV’s are very expensive. If you pay more for the unit then you will pay more for Tax and Insurance. Plus the depreciation on an expensive brand new Coach could be as high as 25-40% in the first 1-2 years. You may find a variation in price between one Brand or another but that usually means one will be better built than another.

Well built more expensive RV’s are so much better than the cheaper versions that will continually need maintenance and repairs to be quiet and comfortable. I have met many people who bought new, but cheaper brands. They ended up trading them in for better quality units because they are sick and tired of tightening screws, shimming squeaks and rattles, and making systems more accessible because of poor designs to save money. There are so many systems on the new RV’s today, that one failure could ruin a whole holiday.

Many buyers mistakenly think buying a New RV is like buying a car. When you drive a new car off a lot there will be very little if anything wrong with it. Not so for the New RV. There are miles and miles of wiring and plumbing in the many systems on board these homes on wheels. Different pieces are built in different areas of the factory and they all come together as it is assembled. Not all the systems can be tested under the conditions you may put it under. Then it may go back to the factory to be diagnosed and repaired. These manufacturers are in the business of building RVs not repairing them. A trip to the factory or dealer could take weeks to diagnose, order parts and repair any malfunction. I have a friend who waited 15 days to get one side of his windshield replaced under warranty.

If I had the money and the time to sort out a New RV, I’m still not sure if I would go that route. I understand it would be nice to have a Coach that nobody has slept in or showered in, but it is a Recreational Vehicle and I will use it for travel and fun. One thing I know for sure, out in the Mountains or Desert or where ever the road takes me, it sure won’t be new for long.

A Lightly Used RVlightly used

If you are not on a budget but still want to save some money on an almost new RV, this may be the route for you. An RV that is 2-5 yrs old could save you up to 40-60% of the cost of a new one. You may not get the newest technology available but you could get a higher quality Coach for a lot less.

If you are careful what you buy you may find one that is almost like new with all the little problems removed by the original owner. You may even get some upgrades that were installed by the owner and the savings is passed on to you. I have had the best luck buying privately right from the original owner. You can usually tell if he is being honest by the condition of the RV and the condition of his service records. Most RV owners keep a file of what’s been done, by whom, and the cost of any service or additions done to it.

If you go to a Dealer, you are talking to a sales person who wants to sell you an RV and really doesn’t know that much about where its been and what’s been done to it. If you want a warranty or have the Dealer finance it, then this route is OK if you are careful. There are some things to look for when buying from a Dealer. Often these used RV’s sit on their lots for quite a while. Up in Canada where I live we have cold, snowy winters where RV’s are usually put away for Winter. This means long periods of inactivity for the Dealers and the RV’s. This is referred to as Lot Rot. Some RV’s may sit for quite a while.

There are a couple of things that can go wrong that may look fine but could cost the buyer thousands of dollars. First is batteries. With newer solar technology and the use of Inverters, a lot of RV’s have multiple house batteries to give them use of house current, or AC power in their RV’s when not plugged in. These batteries must be maintained and kept at a certain charge or they lose their ability to fully charge. Sitting on a lot, these batteries may not be charged for long periods and could lose their ability to hold that charge. Replacing these could cost thousands of dollars and you would never know until you are long down the road. It’s always good to negotiate new batteries into a deal. Another is tires. You can look at an RV tire and it can look almost new but because they may have sat around for quite a while and may have limited use by the previous owner, they may be a lot older than you think. I once had two blow outs on my first trip in a used RV I had just bought. This RV had been stored indoors for the winter months and the tires had very few miles on them. I did not know at the time that all tires have a date code on them and can be checked before a purchase. (I will cover this in more detail in a future post). I had to replace six tires that looked to be in very good shape to make sure I would be safe.

Had I known this before it happened, I could have saved myself nearly five thousand dollars in service calls, tires and installation charges. One of these blowouts also caused damage to one of my storage bays which had to be rebuilt. This may not be a huge issue for a lightly used RV, but it is still something I would always check out.

Older Used RV’sused class c 2

Having bought quite a few older RV’s in my life, I have sure learned a lot from my mistakes. Buying an older RV can save you money, but unless you are somewhat handy it could be a money pit. There is the problem of batteries and tires I mentioned above, but also wear and tear on the inside and outside.

If you try to find an original owner RV you could end up with a really well looked after unit. You can’t always tell how honest someone is, but if he kept records of repairs and upgrades, you can usually get to the truth. If there are none, I would look elsewhere. Don’t be in a hurry. The more RV’s you look at, the more layouts and upgrades you might like. There’s nothing worse than buying something and then wishing you had bought a different version of it. You can go to a dealer and view a whole assortment of models and sizes and then search online for what you like, to compare price, mileage, accessories and condition.

If I am looking at the all around condition of an older RV I always like to look at the interior ceiling. If you see any water marks or stains, you might want to make sure that the roof has been properly repaired and waterproofed. Make sure the stove, fridge and furnace all work off the propane as it should and that the propane system has been inspected within a reasonable time frame. The all around cleanliness tells you a lot about previous owners and there should not be any nasty smells. Again, the more RVs you look at the more you will learn what to look for. If the water tanks are full or you can hook it up to a water supply, run the water in all the taps and look for leaks in the cabinets, or on the floors. Go outside afterwards and look underneath for puddles or water dripping down. There should be none. Get the seller to repair these things if you want to buy it or move on to another one.

Once you find the one for you, ask to have it checked out by a mechanic. Get an opinion on its overall condition mechanically. They will know what to look for and advise you if any money needs to be spent and how long into the future that will be. You will be spending a lot less for a well-used RV, so budget for things that even the owner may not have known about, but just happened to wear out on you.


I hope this post helps a bit if you are in the RV market. I have more posts to follow and I hope to get into more detail about recommendations of what is essential for the different Classes of RV’s and Owners. Whether you are looking to buy an RV or already have one, I will use my experience and research to Post the best information I can to give you and a different outlook on what might be best for you. I want you to enjoy the RV lifestyle as much as I do and have the most comfortable, safe experience possible.


  1. Hbee Posted on March 15, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    This is very interesting for those looking to buy a RV, i personally would look into buying a used RV as you can save a lot of money that and as you have said,the previous owner will have already spent money of fixing broken parts so thats a plus for you. I wouldnt buy a brand NEW one unless i am exceptionally rich (which im not).

    1. admin Posted on March 16, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      Hi there Hbee….Thank you for commenting on my post. I agree with you about having lots of money to by a new RV. I don’t have it either so my next RV will be a used one again. It takes a minute to make it your own, but then it feels just like home. Thanks again

  2. Eric Posted on March 15, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    My father purchased a brand new RV with two pop-outs, usb charging stations and a lot of bells and whistles. He absolutely loves it. I live too far from him to borrow his but watching him take it out all the time, makes me really want one. I can’t afford to spend $50,000 like he did though but want an RV that is still pretty new.

    I think I’m best off in the lightly used category. After reading this article, you’ve given me a lot of things to consider that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought about such as all of the tires! That alone could be a huge issue and possibly even why the original owner is selling.

    1. admin Posted on March 16, 2019 at 12:14 pm

      Hey there Eric….Thank you for reading my post. I will be covering tires and batteries in more detail in future posts. You could maybe take your Father along to look at RV’s. Owning one he may have some positive input. If you have any questions, just ask me and I’ll do my best to help you out. Thanks again. I really appreciate the comments.

  3. Lok Which Posted on March 15, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing this information . This post really came at the right time because I have decided to get a RV car which was introduced to me by my friends and since then I have  been searching for what to look out for in getting a RV car and luckily I came across this post and this has provided solution to my question. Now I know the next step to take. I must really appreciate you.

    1. admin Posted on March 16, 2019 at 12:07 pm

      Hello Lok …Thank you for reading my post and your kind words. I hope you have a trouble free experience getting an RV and enjoy your as much as I enjoy mine. Thanks again.

  4. Jeedajoy Posted on March 15, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    So I believe if one is to calculate the cost of maintenance and headache, buying a new RV is always a better decision. Even if this takes to use some loan, because in the end wins are more if wisely compared. I have never thought of buying an RV, but actually lately, and as kids are growing up, I might consider it for long roads traveling. Thanks for the information and advice…

    1. admin Posted on March 16, 2019 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Jeedajoy…Thank you for your comments on my post. I hope you get to enjoy the RV lifestyle once the kids are grown. We love the freedom of going anywhere we want, stopping where ever we want, and staying as long as we want for free. Thanks again

  5. Mariah Posted on March 15, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    As with buying any vehicle, I personally believe that it’s never a good idea to buy a completely new one. As you said, they depreciate so quickly that you end up losing tons of money. I think that the best option for those with the money is to buy a lightly used RV that way they can take advantage of the depreciation that has already happened instead of being saddled with it.

    Older RV’s can also be a good option, as long as they’re not too old and rundown. I think your points about what to look for in an older RV are very helpful. It is also a good idea to set aside money each month in a vehicle repair fund, that way when you need to repair things, you’ve got the money right there.

    1. admin Posted on March 16, 2019 at 11:59 am

      Hi Mariah…Thanks for commenting on my post. I think putting money aside for repairs is a good idea. I would use some for preventative maintenance to catch things wearing out before going on a trip. There’s nothing worse than spending a vacation at a repair center. Thanks again.

  6. Ola Posted on March 15, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    I have always wanted to purchase RV product but I don’t know the best way to go about it but your article has opened my eyes to the beauty of this product. It seems I prefer to go for the brand new product because of its durability. I have read about the review on the internet and I can attest to the fact that there are positive response from its users.

    Thanks for sharing

    1. admin Posted on March 16, 2019 at 11:52 am

      Hi Ola… Thank you for commenting on my post. I think people have different wants and needs when it comes to this kind of investment. I have never owned a new one, so I don’t know what that is like, but I am happy just to be out there enjoying a different way to travel and vacation. Thank you again.

  7. Seyi Posted on March 15, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    I have always been a fan of good cars and from your review the RV seem like a car to own. I have never been a fan of old or used cars as my experience with them as never been palatable at all. I had to constantly change tires, change the gear one time and after awhile when I seem to be enjoying it, the breaks go bad. If at all I would be getting the RV or advising someone here , would advise you save up for a new one. Nothing beats New. Thanks

    1. admin Posted on March 16, 2019 at 11:45 am

      Hello Seyi…I wish I could afford a brand new RV. It might bother me to spend that much money though. It would be nice to have everything new and unused. Thanks for reading my post and sharing your experience.

  8. Edgar Ahimbe Posted on March 15, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Constant transfers from one duty station to another always got me thinking that a good RV would be a solution. It is so convenient, cost effective, flexible and regulates damage of property during transit from one work station to another.

    I would settle for a lightly used RV just to save money, and I like the tips you have shared to get a good deal. I would recommend anyone in need to be a RV owner to check out your site since you have invaluable information on recreational vehicles. 

    Since you promised to be sharing more information, I will be checking your site for updates. 

    1. admin Posted on March 15, 2019 at 7:03 pm

      Hello Edgar…Thank you for looking at my post and commenting. I am new to this and you’re comments make me want to write another one right away. I will be sharing my many years of the Rv lifestyle in my future posts. I have made a ton of mistakes over the years and hope I can help others avoid that and get good information and comparisons on what is new in the RV world. Thanks again. Your comments mean a lot to me

  9. ajibola40 Posted on March 15, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks for writing this article on RV buying tips. I really find this article so helpful because I have bought a use RV sometimes ago and the experience was really a bad one because I spend money on it every single time I make use of it due to bad maintenance from the owner. I was later force to buy a new RV which I have been using for some time now

    1. admin Posted on March 15, 2019 at 6:54 pm

      hi Ajibola…Thank you for reading my post. I too learned the hard way by buying the wrong RV and ending up with many ruined vacations or weekends. It is my goal to try to point out what is good and bad in getting the right RV for our needs. I hope it helps you next time you go to buy one. Thank you again

  10. Fortune Posted on March 15, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    I enjoyed your review on RV buying tips. It is well explained and really straightforward. I agree that buying brand new RV could be expensive but I think it has more advantage over light used RV and older use RV. That is getting to buy the latest RV. I guess that’s only meant for the extra rich. As for me I would go for the lightly used one to save some money for other expenses. Meanwhile at the end of it all every individual has a choice to make in RV buying but have made my choice. Thanks for the guidelines. 

    1. admin Posted on March 15, 2019 at 6:49 pm

      Hi there. Thank you for reading my post and commenting. I agree with you that the savings on a lightly used RV is the way to go if you can afford it. I had to go a little older to be able to afford the RV of my dreams, but after some repairs and modifications I now have everything I ever wanted. Thanks again for your positive comments

  11. lornafraserja Posted on March 15, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    You’ve written such a comprehensive article about RV Buying Tips that you’ve answered my questions before I even asked them.

    I really like this topic! RV ‘s do offer an attractive option for a convenient motoring style, whether one’s reason for choosing  them.  an others who’ve never given them a second thought might be inspired to think about trying them out after reading your article.

    Thank you for your honest, authentic and informative article.  I’ve never given a thought to buying a RV before, but now I feel as if  I want to buy one as soon as possible.

    1. admin Posted on March 15, 2019 at 6:42 pm

      Hi Lorna….I’m so glad you got something out of my post. Having an RV gives my life so many more options. I can visit friends and relatives and sleep in my own bed, never unpacking. I can also go to a Casino, park in the RV parking lot and go home when I feel like it. I go visit my adult children who live 1400 klms. away and I have permission to park in the parking lot of the church on the corner. We walk back and forth to their homes whenever we want and still sleep in our own bed not putting anyone out. I could go on and on but come back and read more posts in the future.  Thank you for you nice comments

  12. Olalekan Taliat Posted on March 15, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Can old rv serve like brand new over a short period of time? How can I maximize the use of a light used rv through changing of it me body parts? My neighbor has a used rv which I bought for a couple of hundred bucks. I saw it as an opportunity to own one myself.

    never minding if the vehicle is in good shape or not, ( because I did not involve a mechanic).luckily enough the vehicle is doing fine. The is for this article , I now  know what to do to get a used rv .

    1. admin Posted on March 15, 2019 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Olalekan…I’m not sure I understand your question but I will try to answer. An old RV is as good as the previous owner left it. They can all be in different kinds of condition. It should last as long as the condition it is in. Very good condition should last a long time.

  13. Rob S. Posted on March 15, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    My wife and I are planning a trip cross country and thought about renting an RV.First off, I never drove one and no nothing about them but you bring up some interesting and valid points.I always like and preferred driving a new vehicle, only because I don’t want to break down. I don’t feel comfortable with something that has too many miles on it.But buying one slightly used might save a bunch of money as you suggested. Planning cross country can add up cost wise.Are there certain “brands” to look for? It’s a big investment!

    1. admin Posted on March 16, 2019 at 12:50 pm

      Hi Rob… I’m so happy you are thinking of an RV vacation. I have never rented an RV but I see people out there at national parks and on scenic routes all the time. Cruise America in the U.S. or GO RVing in Canada seem to be pretty popular. I think they start around $500 a week, plus insurance, damage deposit and mileage. Its a good but expensive way to find out if you like it before buying one. In my first post, What Class of RV Should I Buy, I cover the differ types of RV’s to help decide what is for you. A lot of people start with a Class C because it is easy to drive and has quite a bit of room. As far as brands go, there are so many I couldn’t go over them here. I will be covering these topics in more detail in future posts but if you have more questions about anything or certain brands just ask and I’ll try my best to help you. Look for quality in your future RV. If it was built with pride and good workmanship inside, then the overall quality of that Brand is probably very good. Thanks for reading my post. I am here if you need me.

  14. Steph Posted on March 16, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    Very informative post! I have always enjoyed travelling in a RV and think it would be a great asset to have. Thanks for going into such detail and helping me see how maybe brand new isn’t always better. I can see that you have a lot of experience and appreciate you spreading your knowledge to help those of us who are newer to the RV lifestyle.

    1. admin Posted on March 17, 2019 at 5:20 pm

      Hi Steph…Thanks for commenting on my post. I’m glad you are enjoy the RV life. Please come back from time to time to see what’s new on here. I do plan to add a lot of RV related topics and you may find some interesting. Thanks again.

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