Basic Tips for Buying Your First RV

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Introduction

Before buying your first RV, there is a good chance you have never camped in one before, at least not on a regular basis. It is simple to forget certain critical factors while shopping for an RV, especially when your mind is racing with all the options for RV manufacturers, rig types, floor layouts, and amenities.

If you are currently planning on buying an RV, there are some aspects and details of the vehicle that you need to know first in order to ensure that you will be buying the best and most suitable RV for you and your loved ones. Here are some basic tips for buying your first RV.

Determine Your Needs

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Consider the size of the RV

1. Count How Many People Will Sleep in Your RV Most of The Time

It goes without saying that you must decide how many passengers you will have. However, you must also take into account how frequently these campers will join you.

Do you account for the grandchildren you might take camping once a year? Is it worthwhile for them to have a bunk or pull-out bed? Or would it be OK for them to spend the night in a tent, on the floor, or even on the couch? Be honest with yourself about how many people will typically sleep in your RV. Then, when it comes to sleeping space, contrast the “good enough” option with the “more than enough” option.

2. Estimate How Often & How Long Will Use Your RV

Do you intend to go on extended vacations or weekend getaways? Will you visit on weekends, during the summer, or all year long? Your selection should be heavily influenced by the quantity and duration of your road travels. If you will not be using it frequently or for extended periods of time, you can probably do without extra creature comforts. A weekend RVer, for instance, does not need a washer/dryer combo. For instance, a summer RVer may spend more time outside and does not require as much inside living space.

3. Estimate How Far You Will Drive Your RV

While some RVers choose to travel across the country, others set up camp close to home. You must be able to accurately identify the type of RVer you are, or at the very least, where you lie between the two extremes. The tough issue is that various answers to the SAME question may indicate which RV is ideal for you. For some people, the farther they travel, the smaller RV they want. They want it to be simple and economical to drive. Some RVers want their vehicles to feel more like homes the further they drive. They want to bring as many luxuries as possible. So, when thinking about this, you will need to identify the type of RVer you are and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of getting bigger vs. smaller as you travel further.

4. Do not Forget RV Height (Or Your Height)

People always talk about the LENGTH of RVs, but they sometimes forget that height is important, too. At least, it is if you are a relatively tall person. Or your travel companion is.  people who bought an RV online after extensive research and thorough comparison of floorplans… only to realize they cannot comfortably stand up in it. Very tall people will automatically think about this. But above-average height people might overlook this important factor. Again, that is why it’s a good idea to try before you buy!

Decide what features are important to you

1. Dedicated beds 

have a nightstand in the middle that can be used as a foundation, enabling the mattresses to be positioned next to one another in an almost Queen-sized bed. Instead of the sofa cushions that may be seen on many tiny RVs, these are actual beds with mattresses.

2. Separate living and sleeping areas 

have a space for beds and a living area close to the kitchen that serves as an office. Additionally, the layout of our current RV enables the shower door to open across the hallway, dividing those two spaces into separate rooms. The Unity FX from LTV, the last model we owned, includes a front lounge and a back lounge, giving us two separate spaces to sprawl out in.

3. A Dry Shower 

By this, we mean a standalone shower stall. They are known as “wet showers” because they are completely wet even with a shower curtain. For us, a dry shower space is a need that cannot be compromised.

4. Instant Hot Water 

That means the Truma Aqua Go water heater system. The moment you turn it on, the water is warm. There is no wasting water in the shower as you wait for it to warm up. It is a lovely convenience, a luxury, for washing and rinsing dishes and washing your hands. If you have a city water connection, the hot water is always available, unlimited, and quick. Showers are considerably more effective while boondocking and using our freshwater tanks, extending your freshwater supply far further than when we had to wait for the water to warm up.

5. Heated, lithium batteries 

 Once you rely on lithium batteries for your RV, you will never go back to regular lead acid or AGM batteries. More is always better, particularly if you enjoy boondocking. Both the previous and current RVs contained two 100-amp lithium batteries. These have given us all the boondocking energy we require. The current Battleborn lithium batteries were fitted with heaters at the manufacturing, keeping them warm and functioning incredibly well even at sub-zero temperatures.

Determine your budget

1. Look at Used RVs

Make it a point to find a well-maintained used RV unless you have your heart set on a brand-new one. Since RVs typically lose value over time, buying a model that has already been used can help you save a significant amount of money. And no, this does not require you to commute in a beat-up car. What kinds of discounts you can find on models that are only a few years old will surprise you. Used RVs are less expensive, to begin with, and you will be in a stronger negotiation position at the showroom. If your cards are in the correct place, you can leave with a few extra benefits included in your purchase. Once you find the ideal recreational vehicle, keep in mind that you can update it with very little expense. There are many options available for enhancing and remodeling trailers and RVs. Even big tasks, like purchasing new RV furnishings, may be done on a budget.

2. Look for RVs online

Never be reluctant to look outside of the dealership. Start seeking your RV on local applications like Facebook Marketplace, Craig’s List, LetGo, and others. Similar to autos, individual owners typically provide greater prices. Additionally, they can provide you with the full history of the vehicle. Even online, you have the option to look beyond what is available nearby. The ideal rig could be indicated a few states farther down. The first test drive may be the ride back home.

3. Consider Financing Options

If everything works out and you have been diligently saving for your dream RV, you might be able to pay cash for it. However, there are several financing options available to make sure you do not lose out on the chance if the ideal camper shows up and you have not quite reached your objective.

4. Limit the Useless Options

Your ambition may be to own an RV with all the bells and whistles. However, bear in mind that if you plan to rent it out, your tenants will not likely use the heated towel bars very frequently. But a tankless water heater would offer them an immediate benefit. They could want for a family excursion in a vehicle with a practical outside kitchen. On a wet day, they may also want to bring their bikes or have plenty of room to play board games. Find out what amenities RVers utilize the most by doing some research.   Then, choose the trailer or motorhome that best suits both your and their needs. Renters will understand that you provide the ideal “escape” vehicle, making you delighted with your investment and increasing your revenue!

Different Types of RVs

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Motorhomes vs. towable RVs

Towable is right for you if

  • Expenses are less than $50,000
  • Own a vehicle with a large towing capability
  • You care about gas mileage
  • Want a spare car to use for day excursions or doing errands in town
  • Would you like to be allowed to bring toys?
  • The truck has ample room for all passengers
  • Comfortable pulling heavy loads or trailers, especially while reversing

Towable is great for those who do not mind taking the time to hitch up the RV and unhook it when you park. If you are unfamiliar with it, it may be a little daunting, but if you are accustomed to it, it becomes tiresome. However, it is pretty challenging to beat the freedom to drive around, attend events, and stop in towns without the weight of an RV.

The motorhome is right for you if

  • Prepared to invest more than $50,000
  • You do not want to invest in a new vehicle with a huge trailer
  • Plan to stay there permanently
  • Desire to transport every passenger inside the RV
  • Desire luxury
  • Driving a huge truck comfortably
  • You do not care about the price of fuel

Motorhomes are going to be the best option for those who just want one thing to worry about, and not a trailer and a car. You don’t have to worry about connecting anything or remembering if you double-checked anything when you travel in a motorhome. Additionally, motorhomes are timeless. Even smaller cars may be towed by large RVs, but only if you want to. Although the gas mileage may suffer slightly as a result, you can still drive a little.

Class A, B, and C motorhomes

Class A Motorhome

An extremely robust, heavy-duty frame is used in the construction of class-A motorhomes. These frames are constructed on either a commercial truck, a commercial bus, or a car chassis.  A similar construction is used by 18-wheeler vehicles. The Class A motorhome’s substantial weight is supported by the large 22.5-inch wheels. The Class A motorhome has the poorest fuel efficiency at 8–10 MPG. Usually, there are at least two slide-outs. The Class A motorhome is the best option for quality and elegance. Plenty of storage space and a roomy interior are what define the Class A motorhome. The RV has a bedroom in the rear and couches that can be converted into beds in the living area, so it can sleep 2-4 people comfortably. Select a Class A motorhome if you are looking for luxury, lots of space, and a homey interior.  Watch the video below to see our 33-foot Winnebago Voyage.  Two queen beds and one double are available.  There are 2 slide outs, 8 seat belts, and a 5,000 lb. towing capacity.  This RV embodies luxury and style perfectly.

Class B Motorhome

The Class B motorhome resembles a large van from the exterior. They are also frequently referred to as camper vans. The vehicle has ample height inside for standing. It is relatively compact while having a kitchen, living room, and bathroom. The bathroom includes both a toilet and a shower. The majority of Class B motorhomes lack slide-outs. These motorhomes are the least costly of the three in terms of price. These RVs are the smallest and most maneuverable, with the highest fuel efficiency. Due to its size, parking the car is also not an issue. However, due to the interior’s limited space, there is very little room for storage. This is the one for you if you value the Class B motorhome’s affordability. We do not currently sell Class B motorhomes. Motorhome, Class C

Class C Motorhome

The Class C motorhome, which is constructed using a cabin chassis, is a compromise between the Class A and Class B motorhomes. Their sleeping area over the cab makes them simple to identify. The position of the sleeping area gives the living area greater space. In a single Class C RV, 4–8 people can reside. Because the Class C motorhome can tow a different vehicle, you can leave the motorhome parked and use the vehicle to explore the city. The Class C motorhome gets between the Class A and Class B motorhome’s gas economy. Consider the Class C motorhome for larger families who might wish to tow a car.

Travel trailers, fifth wheels, and pop-up campers

Travel Trailers

There are many different sizes available for travel trailers; they can range in size from 10 feet to as big as some RVs. Since everything is so different, advantages like storage, sleeping space, and restrooms all vary. An SUV can tow some of the smallest travel trailers. The trailer falls under this category if it is attached to a standard hitch.

Strengths

  • Big range to choose from, models, floor plans
  • Gas mileage is pretty great compared to motorhomes
  • Not as pricey as motorhomes of the same size
  • can be pulled by vehicles other than just large trucks
  • easier to locate trailers designed for smaller gatherings and more affordable

Weaknesses

  • Tricky to drive if unfamiliar, especially with big turns
  • It is challenging to back into sites in campgrounds.
  • It is prohibited practically everywhere to transport passengers in a trailer.

Fifth Wheel

Fifth Wheels are hooked to a hitching device that rests in the vehicle bed rather than being towable with the regular hitch. This u-shaped hitch facilitates better turning.

Strengths

  • Lots of spacious floorplans available
  • Compared to other huge travel trailers, easier to turn
  • Possibly unhitched
  • Most fifth wheels come with a lot of conveniences.
  • more inexpensive than RVs of the same size
  • greater fuel efficiency than motorhomes

Weaknesses

  • Want to tow with a big, heavy-duty vehicle
  • It can be terrifying to learn how to haul something this large.
  • It is prohibited to transport people inside a trailer while it is moving.

Pop-up Campers

The cheapest towables you can get are going to be pop-up campers. They don’t have hard sides like the other towable do, but they are very useful when camping. Pop-ups are excellent if you occasionally want to camp on the weekends.

Strength

  • May be towed by several vehicles
  • Inexpensive
  • Driving when it is hitched is not difficult.
  • Possibly unhitched
  • Good for newcomers as it’s simple to maintain and repair

Weaknesses

  • Canvas is not ideal for all types of weather since it might rip and leak.
  • little storage
  • not opulent

Pros and cons of each type

Travel Trailers

RVs known as travel trailers attach to the back bumper of a towing vehicle using a ball or coupler hitch. They typically range in length from 15 to 35 feet and can accommodate 4 to 8 people. A decent travel trailer may be purchased for as little as $15,000.

Pros

  • Most have excellent MPGs and are quite lightweight for easy hauling.
  • more affordable than fifth wheels
  • No need for a kingpin hitch if you attach it to the rear bumper of the towing vehicle.
  • An SUV or a 12-ton truck can tow a lot of models.
  • Once you arrive at your destination, you have local transportation because it is separate from the tow vehicle.
  • Due to the low clearance, it is simple to strap items to the roof, including canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks.
  • Since it isn’t powered by a motor, it won’t have any mechanical issues.
  • more valuable to sell than a motorized RV

Cons

  • These recreational vehicles are the least stable on the road and need greater driving and backing-up skills.
  • Due to the absence of a raised front part, it has less storage capacity than a fifth wheel.
  • Setting up and taking down a campground takes time.
  • These can be challenging to maneuver in small spaces.
  • When not in use, a travel trailer needs a sizable, special storage area.
  • During the moving process, you are unable to access the living space.

Fifth Wheels

Fifth wheels are secured with a kingpin hitch that is fixed into the box of a pickup truck bed above the back axle. Fifth wheels are hauled by a tow vehicle similar to a travel trailer. Fifth-wheel trailers have a raised front living space, which is typically the master bedroom or the living room. They typically range in length from 21 to 40 feet and can accommodate 2 to 6 people. Starting at roughly $20,000, fifth wheels increase in price.

Pros

  • Because they are hitched into the bed of the towing vehicle, they are simpler and safer to tow than travel trailers.
  • Ideal dimensions and features for long-term RV living
  • A large amount of storage
  • Have typically taller interiors than travel trailers.
  • Since there is no cab, there is more interior living space than in a motorhome.

Cons

  • needs to be towed by a bigger, heavier truck with a fifth-wheel hitch.
  • more difficult to fit into small campsites
  • A travel trailer’s clearance is insufficient
  • Need a sizable storage area to house it while not in use
  • Setting up and taking down a campground takes time.
  • During the moving process, you are unable to access the living space.

Pop-Ups

The tiniest, lightest, and most affordable RVs available are pop-ups. Pop-ups get their name from the way their canvas walls open up to expose a tiny living space within! They resemble rectangular suitcases when folded. They can accommodate 2 to 6 people and are between 14 and 22 feet long. Pop-ups may go from $5,000 to $10,000.

Pros

  • Inexpensive, perfect for first-time RVer
  • simple to maintain
  • can be towed by some cars, SUVs, vans, and crossovers.
  • Highway driving and navigating via confined locations are both simple
  • There is no need for a huge storage room; items can be kept in the garage or close to the home.

Cons

  • With minimal living space, it’s best for short trips
  • It is challenging to access the objects within when folded down.
  • Storage is scarce to nonexistent.
  • They are frequently poorly insulated, making them more difficult to use in cold weather.
  • fewer amenities than in larger RVs

Class A Motorhomes

Class A motorhomes, sometimes called coaches, are the largest RVs on the market and can rival the amenities and living space of an apartment. They can range in size from 26 feet to 45 feet. They have room for 2 to 8 people. They are available in gas and diesel models and frequently resemble buses.

Pros

  • a large panoramic windshield that provides an excellent perspective of the road
  • spacious, open layout
  • frequently include king-sized amenities such as king beds, enormous kitchens and bathrooms, sizable entertainment centers, and more.
  • A lot of features and amenities are available.
  • Of all RV types, these provide the most space for storage.
  • can tow a vehicle easily behind it

Cons

  • most expensive kind of RV
  • To go about town, you need a different car.
  • Issues with overhead clearance might arise
  • If it breaks and you live in your RV full-time, you forfeit your home when it is being repaired.
  • They are petrol guzzlers because of their size and weight.
  • Need a sizable, designated space to keep it while not in use
  • According to reports, they are less safe and have more structural faults than Class B or C motorhomes.

Class B Motorhomes

Class B motorhomes are the newest models in the motorhome industry, with the majority being between 18 and 24 feet long. They are frequently referred to as van campers and resemble converted family vans. These have many distinctions but provide motorhome-like 24/7 accessibility. Class B vehicles have less living space than Class A and C vehicles but are less costly, get better gas mileage, and are simpler to drive.

Pros

  • cheapest variety of motorhome
  • The easiest motorhome to maneuver in urban areas and on highways
  • While moving, you can access the living area.
  • Easily maneuverable in constrained campgrounds
  • more fuel-efficient than Class A or C RVs
  • When not camping, you can use it for daily transportation.
  • No particular storage area is required for it

Cons

  • can only comfortably accommodate 5 people
  • lacks a lot of space for additional features
  • Instead of full kitchens and bathtubs, the majority just have kitchenettes or wet baths

Class C Motorhomes

A Class C motorhome can be precisely what you need if a Class A is too much for you to handle but a Class B is not big enough. A Class C motorhome is a popular option for many RVers since it offers all the conveniences of Class A without the expensive price tag. In addition to having a master bedroom, they also include a full kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area above the driver’s cab. They can accommodate up to 8 people and range in length from 30 to over 40′.

Pros

  • Easy to drive
  • While moving, you can access the living area
  • According to reports, the cockpits are safer than those of Class A
  • It is simpler to heat than Class A because of the smaller windshield and cab curtain

Cons

  • Larger models may be too big to drive around town
  • Need a sizable storage space while not in use
  • Despite its conveniences, it might not have enough accommodation for full-timers

Inspect the RV

setting-up-an-RV

Check the exterior for any signs of damage or wear and tear

RV’s exterior

Please Note: There is a significant probability that the RV check facility or dealership where you chose to take your interest in an RV would have a lift or a pit that could be utilized to perform a more complete check of the RV’s underside.  During your RV Inspection, we do not advise you, a buddy, or an expert to climb under the RV.

  • Look for accident damage, paint fading, delamination, or skin separation in the fiberglass and outside paint
  • Examine the fiberglass roof of the RV for any visible cracks or loose parts.  Look for any roof (rubber roof) cuts
  • Check the functionality of all external lights, including porch lights, marker lights, and headlights
  • Check all external storage containers for leaks and appropriate door functioning
  • Look for damage or cracks in the windshield, external glass, etc. (A good opportunity to make sure the wipers and washers are operating properly)
  • Verify the tightness and correct operation of any outdoor RV attachments, such as ladders and awnings

Look for water damage or leaks

It is more difficult to detect water damage in an RV than it is to look for evident wall or ceiling fractures. Every window seal, door jamb, and slide-out seam has to be thoroughly examined from the inside and exterior. Additionally, you should inspect the roof seals on your RV. Try lightly pressing anything with your fingertips to feel for any weak places, holes, or other imperfections. Even an apparent fissure may seep a little amount of water.

      Be alert for any of the issues listed below when searching for water damage in your RV.

  • FRP that is gurgling on the outside of your RV
  • You should also check to see if your wallpaper is flaking off in some places or if the color is fading if it is wrinkled or excessively discolored
  • Your vehicle’s inside may begin to smell musty, which might be a sign of water damage. Keep in mind that not all damage is apparent; occasionally, you can smell it!
  • Rusty nails, moldings, screws, or stains around or under your windows. If you can see inside the walls, this also covers the inside
  • areas of softness or discoloration around wall openings, ceiling fans, or vents
  • Spots of discoloration around the tops of the walls or on the ceiling
  • sections of your floor that are soft to the touch, particularly those close to the floor vents

Check the appliances, plumbing, and electrical systems

System of electricity

Everything in your RV is powered by the electrical system, including the lights and appliances. Keep it operating efficiently by:

  • routinely checking and cleaning the battery terminals
  • Make sure the battery is still charged and replace it if necessary
  • Wiring should be checked for damage, fraying, or loose connections and fixed or replaced as necessary
  • Checking the functionality of each outlet, switch, and light

Appliances and Electronics

Your vacations are more comfortable and fun thanks to the gadgets and appliances in your RV. Make sure they are operational by:

  • Regularly inspecting and cleaning appliances, such as the refrigerator, stove, and air conditioner
  • Testing the TV, radio, and GPS to ensure they are functioning properly
  • Examining your devices and appliances for any potential recalls and contacting the manufacturer as necessary

Take a test drive

The Benefits of Test Driving an RV

You may get a sense of the handling, comfort, and features of the car by giving it a test drive before you buy, which can help you make an educated choice. Additionally, knowing that the RV is a good fit for you and your needs can give you peace of mind. Dealers, but will you be able to test drive?

Taking a car for a test drive is one of the finest ways to truly experience it if you are interested in buying. Many dealerships allow test drives, which can be a great way for prospective buyers to evaluate the RV’s comfort and features as well as its handling. However, knowing the dealer’s requirements is important if you plan on taking a test drive. A legitimate driver’s license and proof of insurance may be among them.

Consider the Cost of Ownership

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Look beyond the purchase price and consider ongoing expenses

There are 7 expenses you need to consider once you decide you’re ready to hit the open road. Like any significant investment, buying an RV has additional expenses, particularly when it comes to one of these 2,000–10,000+ pound vehicles. The following are the 7 costs you must budget for if you want to acquire an RV:

  • The cost to buy an RV
  • Insurance
  • Gas
  • Maintenance
  • RV Parks and Campsites
  • Utilities
  • Storage

Estimate the cost of fuel, maintenance, and repairs

The price of fuel will vary depending on the size, frequency, and distance of use of your RV. RVs typically travel roughly 5,000 miles annually on average. manufacturers, RVs may get 10 to 20 miles per gallon on average. Gas may cost you anything from $60 to $600 to fill up at $2.50 to $4.00 per gallon and 25 to 150 gallons per fuel tank. What type of gas does an RV use?

You can choose between RVs powered by gas or diesel. Long-distance travelers like diesel RVs because they are more fuel-efficient and have higher energy values than conventional gasoline. Whatever option you decide on, resources like Automotive.com can help you locate the lowest gas prices nearby.

No matter how well-maintained your RV is, you should always budget for periodic maintenance and unforeseen emergencies. Naturally, you will need to change your oil and replace your propane frequently, so putting aside modest cash will spare you the stress of a breakdown, tire blowout, propane leak, etc.

  • Tires – Start at about $300 each
  • $150 for a toilet
  • Floor repairs can range in price from $2 to $15 per square foot, depending on the materials used
  • Roof Repair: $250 or more
  • Replacement of a windshield: $1,000 to $5,000
  • Depending on what is affected, the cost of water damage can range from around $800 to thousands of dollars

You should budget $100 each month or so for maintenance fees.

Factor in the cost of insurance and storage

Pay Attention to Storage Space

You might not have thought about how you’ll pack for each trip when choosing your first RV. You can be a minimalist, but you still need ample storage for necessities like food, clothing, and camping equipment. A location in your RV is required for goods like shoes, laundry hampers, kitchen equipment, and garbage cans. 

How much does RV Insurance Cost?

The cost of RV insurance is typically more reasonable than auto insurance because most people tend to drive RVs less than they do their cars. In any case, if you intend to buy your RV, you should always do your homework before obtaining insurance to make sure you’re insured where you need to be. RV insurance typically costs $500 to $1,000 per year for a motorhome and approximately $250 for trailers.

Buy from a Reputable Dealer

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Look for a dealer with a good reputation

Read The Reviews

Reading internet evaluations of the dealerships you’re considering is the most logical place to start. On Google, Yelp, Facebook pages, or more specialized review websites like dealerrater.com, you can find reviews. As with all reviews, you should proceed with caution. Review sites can be biased because most individuals only do it if they are dissatisfied. People who had negative experiences talk about them, while those who had positive experiences move on and enjoy their RVs. Search for recurring themes as opposed to checking to see if a dealership has unfavorable ratings or not.

Know Their Service Capabilities

The service department of a dealership is one of the major indicators of its quality. Find a dealership that has a certified service team that is prepared to handle your particular RV.

Look For Certifications

Several accreditations and certificates might show that a dealership is knowledgeable in its field. Numerous RV producers give dealerships prizes for having a lot of sales experience with their goods.

Conclusion

In summary, understanding the most important components to inspect and maintain on your RV is crucial for your investment’s safety, performance, and longevity. You can make sure your RV is prepared for your next vacation by routinely inspecting and maintaining its plumbing, electricity, plumbing waste systems, propane system, slide-outs, seals, roof, exterior, appliances, electronics, and safety equipment. Travel safely!

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