Pros and Cons of Buying a Used RV


pros cons buying used rv lg

Buying an RV is a substantial investment. Fortunately, you don’t have to buy a new one, and in fact, there are a lot of pluses to buying a used one. To help you, I’ve crafted a guide that shows the pros and cons of buying a used RV.

Here’s what I found out:

The pros of buying a used RV include paying 20-40% less than a new one, and most of the initial warranty repairs will have been done. The cons include the factory warranty not being transferable and that there has already been wear and tear on the RV. 

But there’s a lot more to know.

In this article, we’ll explore whether it’s worth buying a used RV, the best questions to ask before making a purchase, and how to know how much to pay.

But we’ll also look at how to buy a used RV from a private seller and the best used RV to buy.

Let’s dive right in.

Is it worth buying a used RV?

Buying a used RV is worth it. RVs depreciate 30% within the 1st 3 years of ownership, so a used RV will be substantially cheaper than buying that same model new. 

If you’re on a budget or just getting started with experiencing the RV lifestyle, a used RV is the way to go.

As I mentioned, during the first three years of ownership, RVs depreciate a lot. When you buy a used rig instead of a new one, you’re effectively saving all that depreciation money.

So they aren’t like homes that go (usually) up in value. They’re like cars. 

And vehicles depreciate fast. And they’re more susceptible to wear and tear.

Some folks like the idea of owning different types of RVs over the course of a lifetime. If that’s you, it’s a good idea to test the waters with a used one.

After a few years, you can sell it.

If instead, you opted for a new expensive rig because of the price, there may be the temptation to hold onto it even though your heart is no longer in it.

Another factor why buying a used rig makes a lot of sense is that the previous owner has broken it in. You’d think that a new setup comes with no issues at all. 

Not true.

There are times when a part of the RV may be broken, and it will sit at the dealership for weeks or months instead of cruising to another alluring adventure. In some cases, the previous owner has even added some cool upgrades.

When I bought my Newmar Bay Star, part of the slide-out broke the 1st day I used it. After my trip, I dropped it off at the dealer for what they said would be 3-6 weeks for the repair.

15 weeks later, after getting Newmar involved, I finally got it back (and they didn’t even fix everything they were supposed to fix); thanks for nothing, Holiday World!

Class B RVs are one of the types of RVs you can buy. 

But are they worth it? I devoted a recent article to explore 13 significant pros and cons. What really surprised me was how the size and cost seem completely unrelated when it comes to Class B RVs.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What are good questions to ask when buying a used RV?

Questions to ask when buying a used RV include:

  • Why is the current owner selling the rig?
  • How many people have owned it before, and how has it been used?
  • Are their maintenance records? 
  • How many miles are on the RV?
  • Has it been in an accident?
  • When last were the tires replaced?
  • Are all the systems working correctly?
  • Has the RV ever been damaged by water?
  • Is there is a transferable extended warranty?
  • Can I have it inspected?
  • Can I take it for a test drive?     
  • What kind of pets has stayed in it?

Even though used rigs are cheaper than new ones, you don’t want to end up with a lemon.

So, you want to ask as many questions as possible. No question is off the table, seeing as you’d be parting with a lot of money.

And make sure that you get an inspection of the rig.

Ideally, the inspection is done by someone who really knows a lot about RVs. There are sellers who do not even mind paying for the inspection. A good sign if you ask me.

Only start the process of negotiation after the inspection has been conducted by a qualified professional.

Did you know that there are folks who live in their RVs full time? 

What are the pros and cons? In a recent article, I shared 25 pros and cons of living full time in a rig. But there’s 1 con every would-be RV owner needs to know before they buy!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How much should I pay for a used RV?

Here is a handy chart showing the current average prices for late-model used RVs compared to the same model new:

Type of RV Average Mileage Average Age Average Used Price Average New Price
Class A Motorhome 9,000 3 Years Old $101,168.00 $138,166.00
Class C Motorhome 9,000 3 Years Old $78,592.00 $130,868.00
Class B Motorhome 9,000 3 Years Old $118,600.00 $227,569.00
Fifth-Wheel n/a 3 Years Old $36,850.00 $66,882.00
Travel Trailer n/a 3 Years Old $24,000.00 $35,693.00

I used medium-sized vehicles in all classes for my research. (sources)

I also have to point out that different brands are more sought after and may hold their value better. And the price in San Francisco will be way different than in Pueblo, CO. I also used the base price for my comparisons. So if yours has a bunch of extras, expect the price to be higher.

So, use those prices as a guide, not the be-all, end-all.

Of course, if you buy a used RV from a dealer, you’ll almost always pay more. But if you finance through them, and especially if you trade in an old one, you may be able to get close to these prices.

But generally speaking, buying from a private owner will always get you the best price.

Even if you like an RV, ask around, and use sites like RVTrader.com and nadaguides.com before you decide to pay. Naturally, the seller wants the highest price they can get, and in many cases, you’ll want a lower price.

How much you should pay should be a function of negotiation. After you’ve done the needed research, make sure to ask the seller the questions I shared earlier, and above all, negotiate.

Prices are never fixed.

So, the best price to pay is the negotiated price, and it depends on the model you’re buying and its age.

There are two main categories: drivable and towable.

Like most purchases, the seller might be willing to accept a much lower price after you’ve inspected the rig. And like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

What are the key things you ought to know before deciding to live in an RV all the time?

A recent article of mine is a deep dive into just that. I looked at the best type of RV to live in year-round as well as some of the worst brands to avoid.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How to buy a used RV from a private party

When buying an RV from a private party, first make an offer, having researched the prices online. Then pay for a 3rd party inspection of the RV. Lastly, get a cashier’s check from a bank in the agreed-upon amount, exchanging it for the title and keys to complete the transaction.

Then once completed, register the RV in your name on your state’s vehicle registration website or down at the local office. And for most states, you’ll not only have to pay the registration fee, but applicable tax, title, and license fees too.

If the seller won’t agree to an inspection of the RV, I would walk away.

Any reasonable person will be totally okay with a mobile RV mechanic coming to their house or following you in the RV to a nearby RV shop or dealership to get it inspected with an appointment you made in advance.

But the first step is to conduct exhaustive research online on the different types of RVs available so that you can decide the best for your needs and budget.

Don’t rush this process.

Even though you’re buying a previously owned rig, it would still require that you pay a substantial amount of money. The last thing you need is to regret making the purchase.

After conducting research online, visit an RV dealership or a local RV show. Don’t worry about the prices.

The idea is to see each type physically and to ask questions that would help you decide on the type that’s best for you.

In a recent article of mine, I looked at the difference between RVs and motorhomes. I explained what the different RV names mean. I revealed which one’s better: a motorhome or a travel trailer. And a lot more…

Just click the link to read it on my site.

When you’ve narrowed down the choice of RV you want, just check around online in your area to see what’s out there and who the sellers are.

Before you engage an inspector, make sure you’ve asked the seller loads of questions and have decided the RV is worth buying. You can also conduct a pre-inspection before the real one is done.

You can hire NRVIA certified inspectors via this site https://nrvia.org/locate/.

If the inspector says to go ahead, make sure you use the RV’s VIN to conduct a history check. You want to know if the title is clean. If everything’s okay, you can now negotiate. Buy when the price is “right” and draw up a bill of sale that’s signed by both parties.

Then get the RV insured as soon as possible after you drive it away.

What’s the best used RV to buy?

The best used RV to buy will include the following brands and types: Newmar Bay Star Sport, Tiffin Open Road Allegro, Leisure Travel Vans Serenity, GTRV Conversions, Lazy Daze, Gulf Stream Coach.

Let’s check out some top models I’ll recommend. In each class, the first model would be on the high end, while the second would be on the low end.

Class A

Newmar Bay Star Sport

Newmar Bay Star Sport is one of the most excellent RVs you can buy.

It has an aura of class, in addition to being highly functional. It’s built on a Ford gas engine and a Ford chassis by Newmar, one of the most reputable RV manufacturers.

It’s also the RV I own, so I can speak to the quality.

Class B

Leisure Travel Vans Serenity

Leisure Travel Vans Serenity is a solid class B RV. It’s got a curved fiberglass body. Its shower is also made of fiberglass, and the toilet is made of ceramic (bye-bye to wet baths).

It’s built on a Mercedes-Sprinter Cab Chassis.

Class C

Lazy Daze

Lazy Daze provides real value for money.

In fact, many people claim they are the best manufacturer of RVs you’ve never heard of.

They don’t use dealers, per se, and just sell factory-direct for new ones. But you should be able to find used ones in all the normal places.

It’s built on a Ford Chassis by the same company that’s been producing it for over 6 decades. A great commentary on its quality.

Winnebago Minnie Winnie

Winnebago Minnie Winnie has 6 different floor plans to choose from.

Most models are between 26 feet to almost 33 feet and can sleep between 5 to 8 people. Some have slide-outs.

Fifth Wheel

New Horizons Summit

New Horizons Summit fifth-wheels are handcrafted for maximum comfort.

They’re designed to serve you all year round, as they are built with quality in mind. The Summit model has several floor plans you can choose from.

Grand Design Reflection Series 150

Grand Design Reflection Series 150 is a beauty. It’s spacious and feature-rich. In fact, it’s cutting edge.

Travel Trailer

NuCamp RV Tab 400   

The NuCamp RV Tab 400 is one of the most popular trailers.

It’s got a kitchen galley, bed area, dining area, and wet bath. It’s easy to tow and is upscale craftsmanship on wheels.

Jayco Jay Flight 31BHDS

Jayco Jay Flight 31BHDS comes with the essentials you want in a trailer. Jayco is one of the most reputable RV manufacturers, so you can rest assured you’re getting a good rig.

Say you’re torn between getting a Class A motorhome and a trailer; which one’s better? 

You’re in luck because that’s what I explored in a recent article of mine. I looked at the pros and cons and revealed whether trailers are better than motorhomes. And a lot more.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Conclusion

In the article, we looked at whether it’s worth buying a used RV.

Then, we explored some good questions to ask before making a purchase. We looked at how much to pay for a used rig. And, how to buy a used RV from a private seller.

Finally, we wrapped things up by looking at the best used RV to buy.


Photo that requires attribution:

what do you want from life? by Robert Couse-Baker is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell travels on and off with his 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. He writes extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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