How to Avoid RV Buying Pitfalls

Purchasing a Recreation Vehicle is the second largest purchase lots of people make in their lifetime. When you make the decision to spend that kind of money it’s important you make wise buying decisions. I have witnessed many poor buying decisions during my time in this industry and I would like to offer some pointers on how you can avoid some of these same RV buying pitfalls.

First on my list is making a hasty buying decision. What this means is purchasing a RV without doing any research. Hasty buying decisions are common in a high pressure selling environments.

It’s easy to see why, you get caught up in the moment, especially when a salesperson tells you the prices are only good for today, or, once this model is gone we can’t get another one like it. Lots of people buy RVs at shows where there is a lot of excitement only to discover it is the wrong type, too big, too small or too expensive. Whatever the circumstances are, a hasty buying decision can be a costly mistake.

Buy the right size. That leads me to the next mistake people make. When I sold RVs, it was common for folks to be a bit intimidated by the size of RVs. The thought of towing a 30-foot trailer makes you nervous, so you decide on a 22-foot model. I always tried to explain to folks when you tow a trailer you don’t really notice a difference between a 26-foot or 30-foot trailer. Sure, it is heavier, but with the proper tow vehicle and hitch components the length of the trailer should not be a factor to base the RV buying decision on. This is true with motorhomes too. I can’t tell you how many people buy an RV and after driving or towing it come back to the dealership and want something larger. This is another expensive proposition.

Next on my list is buying the right type of RV to suit your needs. There are many different types of RVs to choose from and you need to make sure you purchase the type that is best suited for you and your needs. It’s important you consider how you plan to use the RV. If you like to explore the back roads or camp in state parks a 40-foot motorhome is a bad choice. In this situation a pop-up or truck camper makes more sense. On the other hand, if you plan to travel cross-country in the RV a 5th wheel or motorhome would work great.

Think about how you plan to use the RV, how many people will be staying in it, and what your budget is prior to selecting the type of RV best suited for your needs.

Speaking of budget, you want enough left over each month so you can use and enjoy the RV. Before you purchase your RV factor in the monthly payment, insurance and upkeep and decide how much you can afford to pay without getting in a bind, and still be able to enjoy the RV.

Number five on my list is, if you purchase a travel trailer or 5th wheel trailer it is extremely important the tow vehicle can safely handle the weight of the trailer. I always tell folks to find the trailer you want then get a tow vehicle capable of handling the weight. If you already have a vehicle you need to base the size and weight of the trailer on that vehicle. A quick and easy method I suggest for matching a tow vehicle and trailer is to find a trailer with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) less than or equal to the vehicle’s tow rating. In this case, even if the trailer is fully loaded to the GVWR the tow vehicle is still rated to handle the weight.

For more information on buying an RV check out our Insider’s guide to buying an RV e-book course at .

Happy camping

Mark J. Polk
RV Education 101

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