Is your RV getting too old or too small for your current lifestyle?
No matter the size or model of your first RV, it’s highly likely you’ll eventually want to upgrade or downsize your rig.
But making the switch can be a financially and emotionally tough thing to do.
If you don’t think this decision through – and let your emotions lead the way – chances are good that you’ll regret your choice.
If you’re thinking about buying a new RV, here are a few smart ways to ensure you get the rig you want and avoid buyer’s remorse.
1.) Know The Features You Love the Most
Make a mental walkthrough of your current setup and list the features you know you can’t live without.
When shopping for your next rig, bring your list along for comparison.
You’re bound to forget one of your “must have” features if you don’t keep a list with you.
An RV’s layout and basic structure is difficult to change after purchase.
But don’t get caught up on the little stuff like wall décor and flooring.
You can update these with a little DIY elbow grease.
Try to envision the big picture.
If a rig seems to be lacking in only cosmetic areas – your dream RV might be right in front of you!
2.) Rank The Features that Annoy You
Even the most expensive RVs have something about them that needs modification or improvement. Usually we don’t discover these details until after we’ve lived in our rolling home for a while.
Look around your current RV and note which features you hated when you brought it home. Were these things remedied with upgrades or repairs – or were you stuck with them for the duration?
Survey your RV’s least loved features and categorize them into “Things That Can Be Modified” or “Things I’ll Never Put Up With Again.”
Use these categories to help compare features among RV candidates and narrow down your list of potential rigs.
3.) Get Nosy and Dream
Switching to another rig is filled with all sorts of possibilities. Many RV manufacturers redesign and upgrade their models every few years.
It’s fun to see what new options are available in different RVs, so why not visit an RV show to experience the latest industry trends? Even if you can’t afford to buy new, RV shows are an ideal way to talk to a lot of manufacturers at once.
This will give you a good sense of how models differ and which ones are constructed the way you want. If you can’t get to an RV show, talk to members of RV owners’ groups in online discussion forums to learn which RVs are a good fit for your needs and budget.
Knowing more about various manufacturers will help you decide which are of acceptable quality. Choice is your friend.
4.) Create a Realistic Budget
Speaking of money, it’s OK to dream big for your next RV purchase. But the reality is that for maximum enjoyment you need the income to support that dream.
If you don’t have the cash to pay for your next RV and towed/towing vehicle in full, at least set your sights on a rig with a comfortable payment schedule that you can easily pay off in a couple of years.
Financial experts tell us that RVs are depreciating assets. Carrying debt on vehicles that lose value the instant they leave the lot is just dumb.
If you’re thinking of financing your new RV, know how much interest will accrue over the life of the loan: if the total amount paid will be greater than the value of the rig at the end of financing, ask yourself if that’s really a smart way to go.
Chances are, it isn’t.
Keep your purchase within your means and your RV vacations will be more stress-free than ever.
5.) Verify the RV’s History
An eager seller will have an RV Vehicle Inspection Number (VIN) report ready for potential buyers. If one isn’t available you can order an inspection report yourself.
Spending just a few dollars ahead of a major RV purchase can save you thousands later if the report reveals that the RV has accident damage or has been subject to manufacturer recalls.
To get the report you need to get the VIN from the seller first.
6.) Follow a Pre-Inspection RV Checklist
Whether you buy from a private party, on the open market, or trade in your existing rig at a dealership, study a Pre-Delivery Inspection Checklist (aka “PDI”) so you’ll be able to examine RV candidates in an unbiased and rational way.
Even if a rig is brand new, a PDI will help you walk into a deal with organized thoughts to carefully consider issues such as:
- What is the exterior condition like? Are there signs of sidewall delamination or accident repairs?
- Are the roof’s corners and edges securely attached? What does caulking around the ladder and vents look like?
- How many hours are on the generator? What kind of maintenance records are available?
- Can you hear weak areas when stomping on the floor?
- Do you see signs of rodent or pest damage?
Print out your PDI and take along handy tools such as a notebook, flashlight, tape measure, work gloves and a small screwdriver set.
Let the seller know you’ll need extra time to perform this inspection and don’t be shy about it.
7.) Check Your Emotions at the Door
Keeping emotions out of your purchase is difficult – but it pays off.
Do as much pre-sale research as possible before you ever step foot into a potential RV.
Once you’re surrounded by fancy late-model RVs, you’ll have a tough time keeping your needs separate from your wants.
When the buying fun finally begins, maintain a level head and don’t jump into any final purchase decisions until you’ve followed all of these recommended steps.
You’ll stand a much higher chance of getting the RV you really want.
Even it takes more time than you imagined, sticking to your plan will eliminate any chance of buyer’s remorse, and leave you with the confident feeling of having picked the best RV for you.
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