Safe Buying Tips When Purchasing An RV

Spring is here and many of us are ready to get over the ‘cabin fever’ feeling. We hear the call of travel and are ready to answer that call…almost. Perhaps the only thing still needed to hit the open road is a RV. Whether buying for the first time or trading up, the buying process can be a bit intimidating. If a new RV is on the horizon for your spring and summer, keep these safe buying tips in mind while searching for that perfect RV.

Know what You Want

Before you even start ‘window shopping’ for a new rig, it is important to know what style RV fits your travel needs. Are you looking for something compact like a small camper or a pop-up trailer that you pull behind your SUV? Or do you require as much space as possible with a Class A motorhome?

Key questions to consider when narrowing down the perfect size RV include:
  • How many travelers and how many beds are required?
  • Will the RV be full-time living, or strictly for vacationing purposes?
  • What is the maximum amount you want to spend?
  • Comfort level of driving large unit vs. a pull-along camper

  • Costs of expenses, such as insurance rates and vacation budgets
  • Will trips include multiple locations or one location for an extended period of time? This is important mostly for the amount of work required in setting up and breaking down a pop-up trailer or even getting an RV situated within an RV park.

Researching the many models and sizes of both motorized and towable RVs will not only help you know what fits your travel needs, it will also be helpful with price comparison (more on that later!)

Things to consider before buying

While most of the RV classes can be transported by a regular license holder, some states require a different type of license. In Hawaii, for instance, a Class 4 license is mandatory for all trailers between 15,000 and 26,000 pounds. For RVs that are over that weight limit, a commercial driver’s license is required. A quick call to your county’s Department of Motor Vehicles office will provide you with the correct information for your state.

Complete an Extension Walk-Thru- leave no stone unturned…check every nook and cranny. Be sure to complete full inspections of all RV areas: Interior and exterior walls, underneath the unit along with floors and ceilings. Learn more here.

Things to Avoid

Avoid these  critical circumstances and damaging situations:

  • Water damage– Even the slightest hint of water damage should be a deal breaker. Water damage of any kind if expensive to repair and this type of damage within an RV should be avoided at all costs. Check outside of the unit for soft spots on the roof, bubbling on the outside walls and cracked or separated sealants. When in the kitchen and bathroom area, check for water damage in the floor by jumping up and down a few times. Sounds silly, I know, but it is an easy way to check for soft flooring. If one or two spots are softer or give more than the rest of the floor, its very likely due to water damage and rotting.
  • Mold-This problem is a direct issue from water damage. An effect of water damage, mold should be looked for in corners of floors and ceilings, especially around bathroom fixtures. Open a cabinet door or two and check for mold with a flashlight. While the standard ‘smell test’ can alert you to mold, sometimes you have to rely on the sense of touch. If a closet or cabinet feels warmer than the rest of the RV, it’s a good bet mold is growing in that area.
  • Obvious signs of neglect- Similar to checking a car’s wellbeing before buying, its always important to note how well an RV has been cared for. If it shows obvious the signs of neglect, such as old, torn belts, low oil and transmission fluid levels, and/or tire treads worn out completely, it is a safe bet the RV didn’t get the TLC it needed. When test driving, give it the 16-point check: blinkers, ac and heater, brakes, horn, windshield wipers and the other knobs and controls on the dash. If there are clear signs of neglect, it is best to step away from the sale.
  • Outdated tires- In addition to checking for little or no tread patterns left on the tires, there is another way to make sure that the RV tires aren’t too old to be useful. Checking the sidewalls for the DOT label is important. There will be a four-digit number following this label. If it shows DOT 1021, the tires would have been made the middle of March, in 2021. The first two numbers represent the week the tire was made, while the last two digits are the production year.

Rely on our reputation and knowledge

When in doubt, its always best to rely on the experts. For expert advice and more safe buying tips, rely on our  team here at National Vehicle.

Our sales team is ready to give you advice and information, while answering all of your questions. Let us help you find the new or ‘new to you’ RV of your dreams, and your budget! And, if you are trading up, we can help you sell your current model as well. See what National Vehicle can do for you.


About Debra Pamplin

Since 2007, Debra Pamplin has worn her freelancing hat proudly. Though she has written about music and RV topics over the years, travel writing has always been her priority. Since the beginning of her career, she has had many articles published on a variety of topics. Websites such as USA Today Travel, Coldwell Banker and have published her stories. Her byline has appeared in numerous print publications and popular websites over the years.

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