7 Step Process to a Wise RV Buying Decision

December 26, 2011 by Mark Polk · 43 Comments  
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Buying an RV is a major purchase decision. We don’t take the decision to buy a house lightly, and buying an RV is no different. You need to do your research and be well informed to make the best buying decision possible. Let’s take a look at my 7 step process to a wise RV buying decision.

Step 1: Try before you buy
This is perhaps the most important step of the process. It can be difficult to determine if an RV is right for you if you have never used one. Plan a weekend or week-long trip and rent an RV to try it before you buy. Renting an RV can be a good indicator to gauge if an RV is in your future. Another option is to spend a weekend at a campground that rents RV’s already set up on site. My only caution is that you don’t confuse not liking RV’s with not understanding how an RV works. If the rental dealer doesn’t give you a thorough orientation of the RV, or offer an instructional DVD you should consider purchasing a RV training DVD prior to renting the RV. Knowing how everything on the RV works can make the experience much more enjoyable.

Step 2: Attend an RV show
RV shows, like boat shows, are intended to introduce the new model year RV’s and to help disseminate RV related information to the RV consumer. RV shows are usually scheduled during the slower time of the year, the winter months, to help jump start the selling season. RV dealers from miles away will bring their wares to these shows. For the buyer RV shows put everything you need to see and learn about under one roof, making it the ideal environment to conduct research and make informed RV buying decisions.
RV shows aren’t just for RV dealers to showcase their products. They are a great source for information from knowledgeable representatives on every aspect of the RV industry. You will find information on campgrounds and RV resorts, aftermarket RV products, RV accessories and free RV seminars. Some of these seminars might be helpful in making your buying decisions. Check with the show office on seminar topics and times.

Step 3: Which type of RV is right for you and your family?
RV’s come in numerous types, sizes and price ranges. Know which type of RV is right for you and what price fits your budget. Take the time to research your specific needs, and how you plan to use the RV. If you plan to travel cross-country a motorized RV might make more sense than a towable RV. If you plan to go camping in the backwoods, off the beaten trail, a pop up, truck camper or toy hauler would probably make more sense. If you plan to travel and live full time in the RV a 5th wheel trailer would be a wise decision. The right type of RV is out there, you just need to find it.

Step 4: New Vs. Used?
This is a major consideration before you purchase an RV. To assist you with this decision think again about how you plan to use the RV and what your budget is. If you only plan to take a couple of weekend trips, or use it for one or two weeks out of the year, a used RV might be best for you. If you plan to travel and live fulltime in the RV you should probably consider a new RV. In either case, consider your financial situation; it won’t do you any good to own an RV if there isn’t enough money leftover in the budget to enjoy it.

Step 5: Do your research
Buying an RV is a major investment, similar to an automobile or your home. You need to do your research before you buy. There are lots of RV manufacturers and RV brands to choose from. You can research manufacturers on the internet, request brochures, take factory tours and attend local RV shows to learn more about all of the options you have. Consider how the RV is constructed, how long the manufacturer has been around and how long the warranty period is good for before you buy.

Step 6: Buy from a reputable RV dealership
A reputable RV dealership will have a professional sales, parts and service staff to take care of all of your needs. This is an important consideration during and after the purchase of your RV. It’s important that you select the right type, floor plan and brand of RV for you and your family, and that there are qualified technicians to service the unit after the sale. A reputable RV dealership can make your RV ownership experiences much more pleasurable.

Step 7: Protect your investment
When you purchase your RV consider some other factors that will help protect your investment. I recommend looking into some type of extended service contract that goes beyond the manufacturer warranty period. There are numerous plans available, so shop around for the best deal. Get specialized RV insurance coverage. It’s different from your home and auto policy. When you need specialized RV coverage you’ll be glad you have it.

So what are you waiting for? Find out when the next RV show will be in your area and make it a point to attend. Oh, and don’t forget to wear some comfortable walking shoes! After you purchase your RV load your belongings, the family and pets and head out to explore this wonderful country we live in, and build some lasting memories with family and friends.
Welcome to the wonderful world of RV’s!

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Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk
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43 Responses to “7 Step Process to a Wise RV Buying Decision”

  1. Denise on December 26th, 2011 7:24 pm

    I joined the RV Consumer Group and never regretted it. Not all RV Manufacturers are created equal. This Group tells you which RV’s are ‘quality’ and which ones are not.

  2. Caravan on December 27th, 2011 4:02 am

    Before #1 I’d decide on a budget vs how you plan to use the RV. If you are pre retirement you will probably find that rental for the time you will actually use the RV, although less convenient, will be much more economic. Depreciation, servicing, tires etc are an annual cost that you can divide by the number of weeks that you plan to use the RV each year. Compare that with the cost of rental.

    If you plan to use it for extended trips then the decision flips to purchase and of course if you are going to full time, purchase is the only option.

  3. Vickie on December 27th, 2011 10:44 am

    Those are all the steps that we followed towards getting our RV. We had been following your blog for quite a while before buying an RV and it helped tremendously. In fact, you answered several of my questions prior to making our purchase. Out of all the suggestions above, I’m all about researching. Keep up the great work because we still rely on your advice a lot.

    Thanks for being there for all of us RVers.

  4. Rv Back Up Camera on December 27th, 2011 1:44 pm


    This is great advice. There are a lot of thing to consider when buying an RV, and since it’s such a big investment, you’ll definitely want to make sure you’ve made the right decision.

  5. Al Paschen on December 27th, 2011 10:53 pm

    I would like to suggest one more step in the purchase process:

    Just sit alone in the RV you are considering for at least 15 minutes and really think about it. Ask the salesperson to go have a cup of coffee and leave you alone in the camper for a

    while. Imagine a camping weekend. Where will everyone sleep? Is there a place for everyone to eat? Picture a day of rain in your imagination. Will everyone be able to indulge their

    favorite rainy day pastime? Might you want to take grandchildren along sometimes? What about some of your children’s friends? Will it work? Do you really like the interior of the


    It is surprising how many current-model-year RVs we get traded in for a bigger one or a better one, after just one or two trips. Sometimes it only takes one trip to discover that you

    really needed a bigger camper. And that towing was easier than you expected. And that the cheapest one really was lacking in some features that make a difference. Sitting in the camper on

    the dealer’s lot and taking that first trip in your imagination is a good way to be confident that you are making the right choice.

  6. SARAH on December 28th, 2011 8:08 pm

    lol – I always speak my mind. I just want something inexpensive that I can
    pull behind my car – love the teardrops but want to be sure to have a shower
    and or toilet – I do not know what I want – just something that I can live in
    while I work the different tourist areas in the U.S.. not against living in
    my car either

  7. Edward on December 29th, 2011 11:54 pm

    Thanks for such a wonderful information. Actually I was looking to buy RV. Now I am gonna follow your steps.

    Many thanks.

    Used Class B RV

  8. Glenn on December 31st, 2011 5:38 pm

    I’ve been looking into a variety of different RVs and this will be a GREAT help as I continue to do my research.

  9. SteveG on January 6th, 2012 2:20 pm

    I’m really new at this blog thing and do not know how to ask a question without accessing the community through an unrelated topic. So please forgive me. Anyway, here’s my question for folks who may have knowledge and can help me do my research. I am interested in upgrading my current travel trailer (270FQS Prowler) by going into a V-Nose unit. I’m aware of 3 manufactures and want to know if others exist. I have seen the Windjammer by Forest River, the V-Cross by Forest River and the ViewFinder by Cruiser RV. If folks could comment on the concept choice and add any other know manufactures of this type I’d be most grateful. I want to be in the 28 to 33 foot range with slides. Many thanks. SteveG

  10. Al Paschen on January 9th, 2012 6:35 pm

    Jayco also makes one, the Skylark.

  11. Millennium on January 26th, 2012 1:22 pm

    Millennium has a skilled professional Sales Team that can help you with your long term investment.

  12. Josh on February 22nd, 2012 3:43 pm

    Step 1 is definately a worth while investment. If you are consider spending thousands of dollars on a new RV you should most certainly consider hiring one first. Great tips there Mark.


  13. New Travel Trailers on February 27th, 2012 12:45 pm

    One thing that also helps is to start small, especially if you’re buying your first RV. A lot of times people decide they want to buy an RV (or boat or any other major purchase) thinking about all the fun they’re going to have, but once they have it they find out the timing wasn’t right or something along those lines. If you find you love your RV and want to continue, trading up is easy!

  14. Bill on February 28th, 2012 6:27 am

    Great info! Priceless! Looking forward to sharing this with family and friends.

  15. Chris on April 3rd, 2012 6:49 am

    I agree %100 with buying from a reputable dealer. I was not when we purchased our new rv and the dealer did not honor our warranty work. We had to work with the manufacture to go to a independent rv shop.

  16. Isaac on May 4th, 2012 5:38 am

    Yes, buying an RV is a major decision to make and taking the right steps would be a very good idea. Your tips and advice will surely help. Thanks for sharing this post!

  17. AirBedDiscounters on May 23rd, 2012 8:27 pm

    These are great suggestions. The first one, Try Before You Buy, can often be somewhat overlooked in the excitement of the purchase. It’s good to be thorough and be sure to know well what’s out there before selecting.

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