How to Buy a Used RV

How to Buy a Used RV

Check the RV’s Condition

Sims says that when it comes to buying a pre-owned RV, it’s extremely important to assess its overall condition.

“When you’re buying a brand spanking new recreation vehicle, you can be sure you know what you’re getting. There’s not a lot of guesswork involved. However, when it comes to buying used, you really need to put your inspection hat on and check it out from top to bottom.”

Sims points out some of the things used RV buyers need to take into consideration, including mileage, wear and tear, the functionality of the RVs appliances and pumps, the overall condition of the exterior and interior finishes, the overall condition of the vehicle’s tires and wheels, the condition of its glass components (such as windshield, windows and mirrors), the functionality of the vehicle’s power options, and the condition of the vehicle’s carpets and upholstery when applicable.

“Your best bet is to hire a certified mechanic or someone with expertise in recreation vehicles if you’re inexperienced in the process,” said Sims, “and take that person along with you when you examine that pre-owned RV. Buying an RV is an expensive proposition (in most cases, the second largest purchase you’ll ever make behind your home), so for a few hundred dollars up-front, you could potentially save yourself thousands of dollars in costly repairs over the long haul.”

What’s more, Sims says the used RV test drive is an extremely important part of the overall buying process.

“As with any vehicle purchase, you need to get a feel for a recreation vehicle’s maneuverability, handling and power.”

Similar to buying a brand new RV, Sims urges pre-owned RV buyers to pay attention to the overall length and maneuverability of a recreation vehicle during the test drive, since this is one of the most important considerations when owning it.

“When an RV is over 38 feet, it will need to be maneuvered in ‘pull-through’ spaces at campgrounds,” says Sims. “What’s more, any towing requirements, such as a tow dinghy, trailer or boat will also dictate the size of RV you’ll need to buy, and hence, how it performs.” Depending on the type of RV, travel trailer, fifth wheel or motorhome, you need Sims suggests finding one with a greater turning radius if you plan to tow with it.

Finally, he says it’s important to pay attention to potential problems, such as engine noise, irregular exhaust emissions or other telltale signs of engine or mechanical failure.

“If you’re unsure about how to assess a recreation vehicle for potential engine or mechanical issues, solicit the help of a certified mechanic or a person with expertise in recreation vehicles. Take them along for the test drive to accurately assess potential problems, to help avoid costly repairs or overhauls in the future.”

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