RVs have become some of the hottest wheels on the market, but too many people jump into buying a motorhome without fully understanding everything it entails. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a motorhome pro, buying an RV can be a major undertaking. You’re about to make a significant investment in a product that needs to be practical, comfortable, and — most of all — safe.
When buying a motorhome, it’s important to go into the process prepared to make an informed decision. Hopefully, you’ll be enjoying your new (or new-to-you) RV for years to come, so be sure to take the time to find the right model at the right price. “Future you” will thank you for finding a home away from home that you and your traveling companions truly love.
Should You Buy New or Used?
In many ways, buying a motorhome is similar to purchasing a stationary home — there’s just one key difference: your motorhome is likely not going to build equity. Like other vehicles, your RV will only depreciate in value over the years.
Much like purchasing a passenger vehicle, you’ll want to decide whether it makes better financial sense to invest in a new or used RV. Used can often get you more bang for your buck, but a new RV will likely have a longer life and come with a comprehensive warranty.
Are You a First-Time Buyer? Here are Some Motorhome Tips
Before you step foot on an RV lot or start reaching out to private sellers, spend some time understanding the language of RVs. You’ll be able to better figure out what motorhomes are best fit for your lifestyle and travel needs and feel more confident when it comes to buying your first motorhome.
When you begin your search, there’s a good chance you’ll feel intimidated by the dizzying array of options available. To help narrow down your options, it’s good to first learn about the most common types of motorhomes:
Class A RVs are the “big boys.” On the freeway, you can easily mistake a Class A motorhome for a tour bus. In fact, traveling entertainers often use them for tours themselves.
You won’t be surprised that Class A RVs are among the most expensive options out there, but it’s for a good reason. They can be outfitted with virtually every feature you can imagine. Campers who plan to be on the road for long stretches of time often consider this motorhome type.
You’ll see Class B RVs referred to as “camper vans.” This class is similar to Class A in that these are self-contained units — you won’t need to haul them behind a truck or other vehicle. They are significantly smaller than most Class A motorhomes but offer similar features.
Campers who need to accommodate fewer people but still plan to be on the road for weeks at a time may find Class B to be a great fit. This class is also ideal for people who don’t want to deal with the maneuverability learning curve of many other types of RVs. These are as easy to drive and maneuver as a large SUV.
Size-wise, Class C RVs fall somewhere between Class A and Class B. If you’re looking for something roomier than a camper van with luxury features, but don’t need the space (or price tag) of a Class A, you may want to consider a Class C RV. Buyers who plan to have occasional guests might find a good compromise with this style.
Motorhome buyers looking for versatility often gravitate toward travel trailers. You can tow them behind standard pickup trucks, SUVs, and, in some cases, minivans. You’ll find many sizes and styles of travel trailers with plenty of features to satisfy your crew.
Destination trailers are meant to be towed and parked at a campground or other location for an extended period of time. These models appeal to people who plan to park at a camp community for a season.
They’re typically on the larger size, but the main feature is that they can use campground hookups or rely on their own holding tanks and other systems.
Motorhome buyers who value maneuverability but want a large format camper should take a look at fifth-wheel trailer options. This type of trailer gets its name from the large hitch pin that attaches it to the bed of a heavy-duty pickup truck.
The ride is more stable than a travel trailer because the center of gravity shifts closer to the truck’s rear axle. Like other detachable trailers, this style can be a good fit for campers who want to get out and explore local and surrounding areas.
Pop up campers are small, affordable, and super convenient for quick camping outings. Buyers who want to camp in areas where parking is at a premium or who don’t plan to be out every weekend or for months at a time will find a lot to love about pop up tent campers.
Many models can be towed by cars and parked inside residential garages. Pop up campers are not as rugged as hard-body motorhomes, but they’re a significant step up from traditional tent camping.
Five Questions to Ask When Buying a Motorhome
When looking into a motorhome for sale, here are five basic questions to consider:
1. Can I move this motorhome?
It may seem obvious, but if your motorhome purchase includes a visit to a large dealer, it’s easy to become distracted by all the choices available. Be sure to limit your selection to RVs that you can tow with your existing vehicle or that you can drive without towing (unless, of course, you plan to purchase a towing vehicle as well).
2. How many people can sleep comfortably?
Don’t just trust what the seller tells you when it comes to the number of people a camper can accommodate. Look closely and ask questions that can help you determine how many people it can sleep comfortably. You may think you and your guests can handle small spaces, but you’ll appreciate a more comfortable sleeping arrangement once you’re out on the road — trust us.
3. Does everything work?
If you’re in the used market, test everything. Don’t be shy about asking the seller to demonstrate that all the appliances, electronics, levers, and switches do what they are meant to do.
4. What’s included?
If you’re buying a new motorhome, take time to look over the list of features on the manufacturer’s label or brochure. Some features are standard and others are an additional fee. Your sales rep will be able to help you decide which features are worth your investment.
5. What else should I know?
Keep a list of questions that are important but easy to forget to ask in the moment. Consider things like:
· Is it gas- or diesel-fueled?
· How many miles per gallon (mpg) does it get (or take from the towing vehicle’s average mpg)?
· How do the holding tanks work and are they difficult to handle?
Start Your RV Search at TravelCamp
Buying a motorhome is an exciting but stressful process. As long as you take your time and carefully consider you and your family’s needs and wants, you’re sure to find the RV of your dreams.
Our Travelcamp product guide will help you dive into the process armed with the knowledge you need to make a great decision for your family.