Before you dive into learning these very important RV buying tips there are a couple of things that I want to make clear to you. First, these RV buying tips are for purchasing a new RV from a dealership as opposed to a used RV from a private party. Being armed with this knowledge will save you a lot of money. And second, I must give credit to RV Wholesalers out of Lakeview, Ohio. I learned much of what I’m about to share with you from a webinar they conducted and that I recently attended.
The Value of the Salesperson
Typically, the salesperson that shows you around specific RVs on the lot hasn’t spent much time camping and hasn’t spent any time driving or camping with that particular RV. They work on weekends and holidays. They work 6 or 7 days a week. Yes, they can lead you to RVs in your price range or that have certain features you’re looking for. But don’t expect a whole lot of advice on camping with an RV or how certain features are necessary or not. Remember, they’re trying to sell you a vehicle. They don’t really care that much about which one you buy.
The Advertised Price of the RV vs the Out the Door Price
The advertised price of the RV is what you’ll see online or even posted on the windshield at the dealership. But typically, that isn’t the price you’re going to pay. If you are in the first stages of the buying process which is just to visit dealerships and walk through RVs, ask for the “Out the Door Price”. The 'out the door price' includes some fees that we’ll discuss below.
If you are further along in the buying process and trying to compare one dealership's price versus another, get the 'out the door price' in writing and make sure there is an itemized list of what you are paying for.
How Long is the Price Good For?
If you’re in a further stage of the buying process and getting ready to pull the trigger on a purchase, make sure you ask how long the 'out the door price' is good for. It could be good for 24 hours or that weekend. You don’t want to go home and make this big decision only to find out the price you thought isn’t the price anymore.
Hidden Fees – Do You Have to Pay Them?
This is one of the biggest RV buying tips. Hidden fees are what make the advertised price different from the 'out the door price'. But the good news is that because you now know about them, you can potentially negotiate them away. Or, you can purchase from RV Wholesalers which doesn’t charge them, to begin with.
Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI)
The dealership must inspect the vehicle once it arrives on their lot. Yes, it was inspected by the manufacturer. But it has now been driven hundreds or even a couple of thousand miles depending on the location of that dealership. There could be up to a hundred or more inspection points in and around the vehicle. But you shouldn’t have to pay a fee to have the vehicle inspected to make sure it is delivered to you, the buyer, in good condition. Don’t pay for it!
This fee is the cost of getting the vehicle to the dealership from the manufacturer. This you typically do have to pay. But the dealership shouldn’t overcharge you for it and some dealerships do. The cost should be about $1.00 per mile. For example, many RV manufacturers are in Indiana. Let’s use Elkhart, IN. The distance between Elkhart and Tampa, FL is 1,146 miles. Don’t pay more than $1,146 for a freight fee.
Doc and Title
You can’t get away from this one. This is the cost to register your new RV in your state. This is in the same classification as sales tax. You gotta pay to play.
Tires, Propane and other Nickel and Dime Stuff
Yes, some dealerships will even try and charge you to fill the tires and propane tanks. Really? Don’t pay that.
If this is your first RV purchase you may be relieved that the dealer does an orientation to teach you where everything is and to make sure you hook up your trailer properly. Or, that you are comfortable driving your new motor home. But don’t be so relieved that you actually pay for this service. This should be complementary and should be done by a service technician that really knows the vehicle.
Let's Talk Trade-Ins
Huge RV buying tips alert! Don’t trade in your used RV to a dealership. You won’t get the value for it that you could by selling it yourself. Especially in the market now, used RV’s are going for a premium. If you don’t want to hassle with showing the vehicle and negotiating with buyers try to find a company that specializes in RV consignment sales. They can do a lot of leg work for you. But they obviously will want a piece of your sales price.
Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are two good places to list your used RV. You’ll likely get offers right away.
Financing Your New RV Through the Dealership
Yes, it's very convenient to finance through the dealership. And, it may make financial sense as well. But be smart about it and look for comparable financing options outside the dealership.
Shop for the Best Interest Rate and Term
There are RV financing options listed here and many more as well.
For even more options visit Nerd Wallet.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good deal on financing through your dealership. In fact, if the dealer provides you with financing incentives it may end up being the best deal you can get. A financing incentive is basically a kickback from the lender to the dealer that they pass on to you. Or, at least partially pass on to you. With that incentive and a good rate and loan term, that could beat other lenders.
One of the best RV buying tips is to shop for financing as much as you shop for your RV.
What If You Don’t Want or Need Financing?
If you have enough money saved to pay cash for your RV, it may be the best decision to do so. However, there are two things to strongly consider.
You are buying a depreciating asset. Is this asset going to lose value faster percentage-wise than you could be earning if your purchase money were sitting somewhere earning you money?
Ok, so let’s say you don’t care about that. Fine. Then consider applying a large down payment to the vehicle loan but financing enough so you get the financing incentive. To get the incentive, you typically need to keep the loan for 12 months. At the end of a year, if you still feel the same way, then pay it off.
Service Contracts – One of the Key RV Buying Tips
There are 2 types of service contracts. You’ll want to have one of these by the way. You don’t want something major to go wrong that is not covered by the RV manufacturer.
Stated Service Contract
This contract will cover some major items but not minor items. One of the big problems with this type of service contract is that conditions apply for how something broke or why it doesn’t work. For example, tires are generally covered that may not be covered if you puncture one by driving over a curb.
Exclusionary Service Contract
I know the term “exclusionary” sounds bad. But don’t let that influence you. An exclusionary service contract covers all the major items. But excludes only the little things like light bulbs. Generally, it covers far more than a Stated Service Contract. But whichever you choose read the contract carefully.
One of the big RV Buying Tips is to get an extended warranty on mechanical and electrical items. Some of these items are not covered by the RV manufacturer because they didn’t manufacture them such as the refrigerator. And, that specific refrigerator may have sat in the RV manufacturer’s warehouse long enough that the original warranty expired.
Bonus RV Buying Tip
Before you make your purchase from your local RV dealership, give Dustin Bray at RV Wholesalers a call at 877-877-4494 Ext 133. He is extremely knowledgeable, will shoot you straight, and will hunt for the floorplans and features that you are looking for.
In doing some quick checking for this article I looked up the price of a 2021 Rockwood Roo 233S Hybrid Travel Trailer. It was listed at over $35,000 from a local RV dealer. That price may or may not have more fees to be added on. And, it likely doesn’t include a financing incentive. However, the price from RV Wholesalers on that exact same camper trailer was $24,757.00 including the financing discount. That's 29% less!
RV Wholesalers will explain how they deliver the vehicle to you and their service network around the U.S.
By using some or all of these RV Buying Tips you can save thousands of dollars and peace of mind
as you drive your beautiful new motorhome or trailer off the dealership lot.
Please note - we are not affiliates of RV Wholesalers and do not get paid a dime if you buy an RV from them. We just like the way they do business.