Buying an RV is a complex purchase that requires quite a bit of forethought on the part of the buyer. While everyone has to buy cars and homes and there’s plenty of information out there on these major purchases, those getting into the RV lifestyle for the first time may not be aware of all the considerations that they need to make.
For starters, you need to research into the price of an RV as much as possible. Many dealers mark up their RVs by as much as 40 percent – its simply standard practice for the industry. Furthermore, many shoppers don’t realize that they have a ton of wiggle room to negotiate on this. If possible, ask to see the manufacturer’s invoice for the vehicle – this is what the dealer paid. Some will not want to show it to you, others will in an attempt to make a sale. Keep in mind that no shoppers get to pay the invoice price for an RV – the dealer has to make money too – but this gives you a good starting point for negotiations.
If you can’t get a hold of an invoice, do some research online. Find out what others paid for similar models and look at things like the NADA Suggested Retail Price Guide. This guide has marked up prices as well, but you can at least know if your particular dealer is going above or below the national average.
Choosing a model is also extremely important. Unlike the automobile industry, the RV industry is still the Wild West in many cases – there are hundreds of manufacturers and brands out there. Look into every brand you consider and make sure that they are reliable. Many go out of business or get folded into another company. In this case, you have to make sure that your warranty will be honored and that getting repair parts will not be an issue. These so-called “orphan” brands might seem like a good deal, but the hassle of owning an RV without a manufacturer’s support system is probably something that first-timers want to avoid.
In that same vein, you need to buy assuming that something will go wrong with your RV at some point. Many can drive cars for 10 years and never have a single issue, but that’s just not the case with RVs. These are complex systems that essentially roll a home and car all into one, and RV maintenance can get expensive. Read the warranty carefully – make sure you don’t have to send the vehicle back to the factory for service. Ensure that you have a place close by that you can take the vehicle to in case a repair or issue pops up.