So you have made the decision to buy an RV and now the search is on for the perfect rig, but are you going to go for a new or used RV?
There are many things to consider like your personal preference, style, brand, reviews, ratings, floor plan, color, amount of people in your family, length, slides or no slides, Class C Class A, fifth wheel, or trailer… it’s enough to make your head spin. And then there is the biggest factor of all: MONEY.
For most people money usually rules the roost when buying an RV, so the decision of how much to spend will likely be a big part in the deciding factor on which rig you’ll be driving and traveling in.
The amount that some of these Class A and fifth wheels are going for can be enough to have you running off the dealer’s lot, but lucky for you there is another option that is much less expensive and in our opinion results in a much better overall RVing experience… buying a used RV.
We have been living full-time in an RV for four years now and have never owned a brand new RV or a brand new anything for that matter. When it came time to buy our first RV there was never a thought about where or how we were going to buy it.
It was going to be a used RV and bought directly from the owner. The amount of used RVs out in the market for sale is probably the same or even more as the amount of new RVs for sale, so finding the right rig wasn’t a problem for us and shouldn’t be a problem for you.
We understand that there are some people who just love to buy new things that are modern and shiny and come with a warranty, and if that’s your thing then good for you! Go for it! But if you are looking for the best deal on a dependable rig (or are just curious because you can’t imagine why anyone would WANT to buy a used RV over a new RV) then read on and we’ll share with you our used RV wisdom.
They’re not built like they used to be
I have personally said and heard this phrase so many times in the past few years. I have worked my fair share of jobs over the years and one of them was working as a self-employed RV repairman. The work was interesting and always there. I didn’t have to travel far to get to the job site since a lot of our time was spent in RV parks and people were more than happy to have you come to them to fix their RV rather than drive it into a repair shop.
I have learned a lot from working on RVs and also by just simply living the lifestyle and experiencing breakdowns or failures like anyone else would have.
Working on RVs had me repairing new and old rigs, but more and more I found that I was working more on new rigs than older ones. The issues that I would encounter on the newer rigs were also the type of repairs that I felt should not be happening to newer rigs. These issues would be water leaks, craftsmanship, appliances, and mechanicals.
And then there were just simple things that should not have made it past quality control before leaving the factory floor. Some of the best ones that I came across were missing heating duct work and the best was a missing P-trap on a bathroom sink.
The old RVs are still on the road for a reason… they were built to last. They used materials that in my opinion were of better quality and have a much longer lifespan than newer materials. I personally feel like the rigs of today won’t last ten or fifteen years on the road. After all, we live in a consumer society where things are built to be replaced.
Used RVs have been used
This is obvious, but true and if you think about it it makes sense. They have been used on vacations, weekend getaways, driven from one end of the country to the other, and they have been lived in. So in a sense, the previous owner has done all the work of driving all the bugs and kinks out of it before selling it to you.
Engines, transmissions, drive trains, and suspensions new or old will all have issues at some point or another, but the older ones typically have already had the issue and it was dealt with and repaired. With a new RV, you are going to be the first person to encounter these issues and will have to be the one to repair them.
Warranties on new RVs is a big selling point for many people, but with warranty repair work you need to bring it back to the dealership or to an affiliate which can be a big inconvenience to many people. Another problem with warranty work is that unless you have connections, it is usually first come first-served, so you may be waiting awhile to have it repaired. I personally don’t like to be at the mercy of someone else when it comes to having my rig up and running and livable.
Price and value
A new RV loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot, so you will never get all the money back that you paid for it. A used RV will also lose value as it gets older and you put more miles on it, but the depreciation isn’t nearly as drastic as with a new RV.
We put a lot of miles on our first 13-year old used RV, but because we had done some basic and inexpensive DIY projects on it and kept up with maintenance we were able to sell it 2 years later for the same price we bought it for.
With most used RVs you can do your homework and check Kelley Blue Book or other websites to see what the general price of the rig should be. You can also check out reviews of that year and model that other owners have been posting for years. This will help you get a good feel for the value of the rig you are looking at and give you more power to negotiate with the seller.
With a new RV, the only people you have reviewing it are the manufacturers, dealers, and maybe a handful of consumers that were handpicked to try it out and write about it. This means you have to trust the dealer when they tell you the value of the rig. You can take that for what it is, but personally, that is not our style!
A community of used owners
Having a community on the road is something to appreciate. When driving our 1991 Toyota Dolphin into a campground or a boondocking spot, we always spot other Toyota motorhomes or even just cool older rigs and we know that we immediately have something in common with those folks.
Many times people have approached us to share their stories about a Toyota Motorhome they owned at some point and the adventures they had in it. Majority of times they start that conversation with the comment, “I had one of those. Man, I couldn’t kill that thing!” And we usually reply with, “Neither can we!”
Having something that gets you talking with fellow travelers helps you find future travel partners, friends, and information about the area. Plus you get to hear great stories and get to tour some pretty cool remodeled older rigs.
Starting to RV is one of the greatest things that we have ever done and we have never regretted it. Doing it in a used RV that didn’t bust our budget while bringing us around the country only made it that much more rewarding.
Whether buying new or used, you won’t regret the freedom and fun that RVing brings to your life. After all, life is an adventure and it’s all about living and learning, so get out there and explore.