When purchasing an RV, one of the first questions is whether to buy new or used. While some people would never choose one of those possibilities over the other, for the majority of us, both are realistic options with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. In some surprising ways, neither “all good” nor “all terrible” is true in most cases.
Of course, the cost is a huge factor for many of us. Although we bought both of our RVs brand new, we solved the expense issue the same way that most people do with their only home: we took out a mortgage. Even if you can afford new, a used RV may be worth considering, regardless of your financial condition or preference for size or kind of RV (gas or diesel motorhome, class A, B, or C, 5th wheel or travel trailer).
While we don’t (and can’t) cover every possible aspect, we do go over a few of the most prevalent ones that may help you decide if a new or used RV is a better fit for you.
Ready? Let’s dig in!
Should I Buy a New or Used RV?
We have listed key points that you can keep in mind before going for either a new or used RV.
The purchase price is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a new RV or travel trailer. Most consumers are working within a budget and want to get the most bang for their buck. As a result, purchasing a piece of used equipment is highly common.
For a comparable layout, a used RV will almost always be less expensive. During the first year or two of ownership, new RVs tend to depreciate by thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. Buying second-hand avoids the loss of money due to depreciation.
People are frequently willing to make a good bargain on a used RV just because they are eager to sell. Because the owner no longer desires the responsibility of ownership, you can sometimes locate used RVs priced substantially below their worth. While one of the disadvantages of purchasing a new rig is the higher price tag, there are some advantages to purchasing a new rig.
If you decide to purchase a new RV, the warranty gives you peace of mind if difficulties emerge. If something goes wrong during that time, the manufacturer’s guarantee usually covers the RV for 1-2 years. When you buy new, you may also get an extended warranty to cover any faults that develop after the original warranty has expired.
A used RV, except for a few exceptions, is not protected by any guarantee. Some larger dealerships may offer used RVs with a 30-day or 60-day warranty, but you’ll be on your own most of the time. You’ll be faced with a huge repair fee if you buy a secondhand RV and something fails a week later. For used RVs with an extra examination, aftermarket extended warranties are also available.
One factor to consider is the ease with which you can obtain components or perform repairs on the RV. Parts for older used RVs can be difficult to come by in some circumstances. The unit’s manufacturer may be no longer in business. It might be quite tough to fix things when they go wrong as a result of this.
If you’re thinking about buying a used RV, be sure it’s from a reputable manufacturer. Avoiding smaller startup manufacturers could save you a lot of trouble in the long run. You can also inquire about the prior owner’s experience with the manufacturer by speaking with them. This could provide you some insight into how easy it will be to seek help from them in the future.
When you’re ready to buy an RV, you’re probably thinking about what kind of floor plan and layout you’ll need. When you buy something new, you have the most alternatives and choices. If you go to your local dealer or an RV expo, you’ll discover hundreds of options to choose from. Each has somewhat different floor plans or color schemes, and you can even have a new unit built to your specifications.
If you choose the used path, though, your options are more limited. You can only see what’s on the market at the time you’re looking. If you have your heart set on a particular brand or floor plan, it may take some time to discover it, if you can find it at all! When purchasing a used RV, you may need to be a little more flexible.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you plan to secure a loan to buy your RV. When you buy a new RV, you’ll usually be able to get better credit terms. When buying new, you can usually get a lower loan rate, a lesser down payment, and various term length options.
On the other hand, loan rates on a used RV are often higher. You’ll almost always have to put down a higher deposit. Most banks will not allow particularly long-term lengths on a used buy due to the unit’s age.
It would be best if you always shopped around for the finest financing choices, whether you buy new or secondhand. Over the life of your loan, a little bit of study can save you hundreds of dollars. Check out banks, credit unions, and online lenders to see who can provide you with the greatest options.
Some people choose to renovate older units to make them as good as new ones. If you fall into this category, use is the way to go. RV enthusiasts and hobbyists are becoming interested in this. In these older, remodeled trailers, many people are living a full-time RV lifestyle. These older units are frequently available in good condition for low costs.
You probably don’t want to start tearing stuff out and modifying the area if you just bought a new RV. The majority of people who buy new do so because they don’t want to bother about updating or repairing anything for several years. They love the fragrance of a new RV and would rather spend their time on the road than with a hammer and wrench.
Duration of Ownership
The length of time you expect to keep the RV can influence whether you buy used or new. If you intend to maintain the RV for a long time, you might consider purchasing a brand new one. You may not be concerned about depreciation in such a situation because you have no plans to sell it anytime soon.
If, on the other hand, you want to change trailers every few years, you should probably go for a used one. This avoids a significant depreciation hit, and the final buying price is often lower.
Where Will You Be Camping?
This one may not appear obvious at first but bear with me. Do you have a favorite camping spot or a list of places you’d like to visit? You should check their policies to see what sorts of RVs are permitted in their campsite.
Some campgrounds impose age restrictions on the campers who are allowed to remain at their sites, known as the 10-year rule. This is an endeavor to maintain the campground looking nice and premium. However, if you choose to buy an older, used RV, you may be unable to camp in some areas.
Buying new should keep you from having to deal with problems like these while visiting new campgrounds. If you’re looking for a used RV, choose one that isn’t more than a few years old to prevent these concerns. Of course, you may always verify the policy for a certain campground to ensure that your proposed purchase is legal.
Do you have a clear idea of what you want?
On the market, there are RVs of all forms and sizes. When making such a large purchase, it may be wise to spend a little more money to guarantee you get what you want from your mobile home.
Even if your local dealership doesn’t have what you’re searching for, chances are they can order the model with the floorplan of your dreams and have it delivered directly to your door.
Buyers looking for used RVs will have fewer choices. When browsing a resale market, it’s not always easy to locate what you’re looking for. If you want to buy a used RV, you’ll have to be flexible and make some compromises.
Prepare a thorough inspection before making a purchase.
If you are unfamiliar with RVs, inspecting a used RV before purchasing it might be a daunting task. You can always take it somewhere to be examined, but how confident are you in trusting another person’s opinion on such an important purchase?
People who buy used RVs should inspect every inch of the vehicle for water damage, working attachments, and rust. That doesn’t even take into account the engine inspections.
Inspect the seals, kitchen appliances, air conditioning unit, and all power sources/fans on both battery and shore power.
Most agreements won’t protect a used buy in the same manner, and you’ll have to rely on the seller’s word if you don’t do a thorough pre-purchase check.
New RVs will have to keep an eye out for a lot of rot. This is a phenomenon induced by an RV sitting on a lot for a long time without being used. The coach battery is the most usually affected, as no one is responsible for maintaining the battery’s health.
How much effort are you willing to put forth?
When purchasing a motorhome, 5th wheel, travel trailer, or camper, you should avoid significantly discounted pricing.
In general, the cheaper the initial cost of an RV, the more time or money you should expect to spend on maintenance. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and they’re definitely not a free RV. You shouldn’t anticipate having to make any modifications to a new RV.
You can work with your dealer to iron out any minor kinks caused by lot rot, and after that, you can anticipate things to last for years before they start to break apart.
A second hand RV will rarely be completely ready to go. To get things ready to go, any used RV sale will come with some extensive repairs and fine-tuning items. Nobody wants to sell their RV because they use it every weekend, and it works well.
Most RVs for trade have sat in driveways for months or have issues that the present owners don’t want to remedy.
If you consider yourself a handyman, though, you might be able to discover a good price with a little elbow grease.
Every RV is affected by depreciation.
Never consider your RV to be a financial investment. It’s all about building memories and experiencing new places in your RV. The value of their vehicle, on the other hand, must be kept in the back of every owner’s mind.
A new RV is rarely worth more than the price you paid for it. If you want to buy an RV to sell it later and recoup your investment, the only way to do so is to hunt for a used RV.
Used RVs that are more than five years old have already lost a significant amount of value, and if you’re a good carpenter, you can fix up a lemon and sell it for a profit.
RV Insurance with a Premium
When you pay off your initial purchase, the bills don’t stop. If you intend to keep your RV on the road, you’ll need to get an insurance policy to protect everything. The more you need to protect, the higher your premium will be.
Insurance premiums for new RVs will be higher. The higher the expense of replacing the features, the more current and improved they are. Depending on which state you live in, your insurance coverage might cost you up to 5,000 dollars every year.
The less you pay in your insurance policy. The more utilized your camper was when you initially got it.
Take a look at the RV’s past.
It’s critical to know where every part has been in any vehicle you’re considering buying. RVs come with a slew of extras, many of which have a vital history to the vehicle’s value.
A new RV will come with all of the paperwork and information necessary to trace each component back to the factory. Checking the history record for your travel trailer will provide you peace of mind that no aftermarket parts have been installed and will make ordering replacements easier if something goes wrong.
The prior owner will have all of the information about your used motorhome, travel trailer, or fifth wheel. Any repairs or alterations to the car must be reported to you, and there is no way to verify their information.
Shopping adds to the possibility of ambiguity about each aspect of the vehicle’s origin story.
Who would you like to purchase your RV from?
National dealership chains like Camping World are at the top of the RV seller totem pole, with Craiglist hagglers near the bottom. Consider what kind of post-purchase support you want from your RV and use that information to help you decide where to shop.
When you buy a new RV from a large dealership, you’ll frequently get years of support. If you help your friends buy an RV, your salesman has an incentive to keep your relationship going throughout the life of your RV.
Used RV sales are frequently one-time deals. If you buy a used RV off of Craigslist and have questions about how to start the propane system, there’s no guarantee the previous owner will return your calls.
When Is It Time To Buy A New RV?
More financially capable buyers who are confident that their RV will be a key part of their lives for many years will appreciate the comfort, assurance, and benefits that a new RV provides.
The extra safety and security features of a new RV work well with a family lifestyle, and those of us planning to travel with children won’t want to leave anything to chance.
If you plan on keeping your RV in the driveway and driving on the highway for decades, the extra investment in a new RV is well worth it.
A new RV entails a significant financial investment.
A new travel trailer is a substantial investment. $30,000 is a significant chunk of money, and if you’re spending that much on a trailer, it had better be decent. It should not only meet your needs in terms of features but also terms of price.
A fresh, first-time RV may find it difficult to determine their needs, and hence this type of purchase may prove incorrect. As a result, a branded trailer may not be appropriate for everyone. If you’ve been a long-time RV, it makes sense to upgrade to a new one. You now have a better understanding of your requirements and the type of floor layout that will work best for you.
However, spending so much money on a new trailer when you can get equivalent features and design for half the price may not be a wise decision. When a new trailer does not meet their demands, many people are disappointed.
When they try to sell it on the market, they get an even larger shock. Prices have already dropped dramatically. Travel trailers have a high rate of depreciation. As soon as you have it on the road, the prices start to drop. After a year, prices would drop by 10-20%, and within three years, they would be half as much. That’s a significant drop in value.
Other RVs, such as fifth wheels or class A RVs, are similarly expensive. The initial investment is substantial, which can be a disadvantage.
In a used RV, who wouldn’t feel at ease?
Purchasing a used RV in good condition is ideal for those who want to enjoy the freedom of the open road but don’t want to spend their entire life savings to do so.
People who don’t care where their RV has been before they get it can locate RVs with equivalent features at a fraction of the price of new versions.
Those with lower living standards can also feel safe in a used RV if they don’t require top-of-the-line materials for the interior. A person who only needs a bed to sleep on while camping in the woods does not need to look for a new RV.
Let’s say you don’t have a long list of requirements for your camper, and you’re even enthusiastic about locating fixer-uppers and restoring them to their former glory. You’ll probably prefer the quality and price of a used RV in that instance.
It doesn’t imply it won’t break down if it’s brand new.
While you may appreciate the smooth rides for the first year or so, that does not guarantee that they will continue. Depending on how it is used and maintained, the travel trailer may cause you sleepless nights due to troubles and subsequent visits to dealers and service agents.
Additionally, new ones may contain flaws that must be addressed. The manufacturer will most likely repair them for free, but you may be required to maintain the trailer. And since this can take weeks, do you want your travel trailer to stay with the manufacturer at the busiest period of the year for RVing?
New vs. Used RVs
Personal preference is frequently the decisive factor in whether someone purchases old or new goods. Some people choose a new RV since they know they will be the first and only person to own it. Others would never consider paying a premium for a brand-new item and would rather shop for secondhand items.
People have various motives for making their decisions, and it is frequently a matter of personal preference. You won’t be able to persuade them otherwise after they’ve made up their minds.
Whatever option you choose, this data should provide you with enough knowledge to make an educated decision. It doesn’t matter what type of RV you want; both the new and secondhand markets have plenty of possibilities. Determine which factors are essential to you, and then begin your search! The more you shop, the better your options will be. Continue looking until you discover the ideal match. It doesn’t matter what you buy as long as you’re happy with it!