Bob Taylor, Founder, RVforLess.com

Purchasing an RV can be a pretty involved process. There's a lot to think about.
Here are a few tips to help you make a smart purchase that you'll enjoy for years to come.

1. Decide the probable amount of time you will be able to put the RV in use.
For example, will you use it for one two- week vacation and six long weekends a year? The more you plan to use the RV the quicker you can figure your rate of return on your investment.

2. When buying a towable (travel trailer or fifth wheel) you must have a tow vehicle.
Manufacturers have tow ratings established for their vehicles which take into account the engine, transmission, suspension, cooling system and more. Purchasing a towable then must have consideration. Many people cannot afford to purchase both vehicles at the same time so compromises must be made. An example may be that a tow vehicle is not available but there is a lot on a favorite lake that the towable could be placed until a tow vehicle can be purchased. Another example is that many campgrounds have storage lots where they will store your RV until you call them and give an arrival time and when you have arrived they will have your RV on a site and you just hook up and move in.

3. Motor Homes have a different set of questions.
Are you planning on towing a vehicle behind the motor home so that every time you leave your campsite you won't have to unhook water, electric, sewer, TV cable, etc? If you are going to tow a vehicle, then you must decide if the vehicle you are going to tow can be towed with a tow bar with all four wheels on the ground, or on a tow dolly with the drive wheels off the ground, or on a trailer. Most convenient is with the four wheels down but many manufacturers do not recommend that so the most popular otherwise is a tow dolly.

4. Most RV manufacturers have different levels of quality for RV's.
Three ways to look at them are as (a) entry level, (b) mid-level, and (c) luxury models. Of course, some companies concentrate only in one level or a combination of two levels. The length of time a entry level RV is owned is much shorter than the other levels. Many are traded up in three to five years. Others are so dissatisfied that they leave the RV lifestyle.

5. Making a decision to purchase requires time.
In my experience, my wife and I discuss all aspects of the RV we are considering, but I have to leave the decorating to her. My concern is the construction. We like cold weather camping so I check insulation statistics. It is also my department to check the weight to make certain that my tow vehicle will be able to tow the RV.

6. Taking delivery of a RV is exciting.
There are some things you must do to make sure you are still happy with your choice further down the road. Whether you are getting a new or a used RV you must give it a thorough inspection. The dealer will make a PDI (pre-delivery inspection) on all new and used units. This is to make sure that all appliances are operational and there are no obvious defects in materials or workmanship. Dealers do want you to have a good unit, but with the costs associated you want to make sure that you are getting what you ordered or wanted. So do the following:

a. Walk around the unit slowly. Look at every square inch of the ends and sides for bulges, cuts, dents. Open and close every outside storage door. Check the corners. Get a ladder or get on the roof where you can see that all edges are sealed. Also, make sure that all openings have sealant around. Now look under the RV to make sure that there is nothing hanging to low and if a motor home check for fresh oil spots and also the engine compartment for oil or anti-freeze. Check the tires with a tire gauge and by running your hands over the tread feeling for any cuts or bulges. Be aware that a vehicle that has set on a lot for a long period of time may have good tread on the tires but there can be ozone damage. It has been reported that tires over eight years old should be replaced even if the tread appears nearly new.

b. Now go inside. Stand inside the door and see what attracts your attention first. Is it something negative. This is what you will see every time you enter. Inspect the trim around the cabinets and decorative paper to see if all cuts and seams match. Walk the floor checking for any uneven or spongy areas. Inspect every square inch of the ceiling for leaks or signs that there has been leaks. Most any problem can be repaired but to me the most scary is a roof leak.

c. Most dealers will have an area with hookups for people traveling. Ask to stay in this area for the first night. Don't go out to eat. Cook your dinner inside your RV and use it as you would expect to use it. Make notes of any thing that you have questions or needs attention. The dealer where I purchased my last RV has a campground on the same property and placed my RV on a lot in the campground on Friday and we stayed there till Monday when we made the final financial arrangements.

d. After all discrepancies are corrected, go settle up and HAPPY RV'ing.

2003 Bob Taylor and RVforLess.com


As a fellow RV'er, you have my word that our service will be fast, friendly and risk free!
-Bob Taylor, Founder, RVforLess


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