Have you been dreaming of owning your own RV? Driving down the wide-open roads, seeing new things, and exploring with the freedom that the RV lifestyle brings? Before you snatch up the first RV you see, do your research. While the RV life is fun and hugely rewarding, choosing the wrong RV dealer can destroy the dream before you can even hit the highway.
Owning an RV or recreational vehicle is a dream for many would-be travelers. They imagine the fun of hitching up, hopping into their camper, and heading off RVing on bold adventures in the forests and mountains. There is nothing that can ruin the dream of an RV trip faster, however, than a bum deal on the camper that is supposed to be getting you there.
The RV industry has been hot for years, and COVID-19’s travel restrictions made the industry even hotter. RV dealers are pushing inventory out the door as quickly as possible and new owners are snapping up campers to get their family on the road.
But as many online reviews will tell you, many new RV owners wound up disappointed in their purchase. When reading reviews on websites like PissedConsumer.com and online forums like Quora and Reddit, it is clear that many new owners feel a bit bamboozled by RV dealers or trying to handle poor quality issues or faulty parts. For instance, many Camping World reviews and other dealer reviews provide a valuable resource for would-be buyers about what to expect when buying an RV. Thus, they are always worth considering.
Finding the right brand of RV
RV dealers typically carry specific brands in their dealership, much like car dealers. When you visit an RV dealer you will see many different models from a handful of brand names, but – again like car dealerships – the used camper selection may be much broader.
If you want to see many different new RVs from a variety of brands, you will need to visit multiple RV travel stores, often driving long distances to reach a dealership. If you can visit an RV show, you will have access to dozens of brands of new campers at the same time, helping you compare the different RV types and options quickly.
New v. Used RVs
When most buyers picture RV travel, they are in a new, shiny RV. There is a terrific appeal to buying a new RV fresh off the assembly line. It has the new car smell, the mattresses are fresh and clean, and you don’t have to worry about the lack of maintenance from previous owners.
While all is well and good, there are some downsides to buying new instead of considering a used RV. When you buy RV brands that are new, you are risking significant deprecation. While a new car will lose 15 to 20 percent of its value when you drive it off the lot, a new RV can lose up to half of its value almost immediately.
You can avoid a bit of sticker shock by negotiating the price down on a new camper, waiting until the end of the calendar year and buying a new version of the previous year’s model that hasn’t sold yet, or looking for a barely used RV that another family tried only once or twice.
If you’re still not sure what the best fit is for your family, consider an option to rent RV models. You can try the lifestyle without sinking more than you’d spend on a weekend in a hotel.
RVs are a rolling earthquake
When you visit an RV camping store to tour the models, they are stationary. But when you crank up the engine or hitch up the trailer, that stationary space becomes a rolling earthquake. Every bump or turn becomes an opportunity for things in your camper to wiggle loose or shake free.
Some quality issues don’t become apparent immediately when an RV is stationary on the lot. Poorly constructed cabinets or trim won’t swing open or fall off until you’re heading down the highway at 65 miles per hour.
Bouncing down the road can loosen plumbing, screws, lug nuts, cabinet latches, and more. When an issue arises, you want your camper fixed as quickly as possible. This however often becomes a problem.
Online reviews are full of warnings and customer experiences about poor construction and issues. Imagine the frustration of customers, many of whom bought extra warranties and coverage, who are hours away from home and the dealership on an RV trip and have an issue.
Fixing an RV, even small issues that are covered by warranty, often means driving hours back home to the original dealership and leaving your camper for weeks or even months while the service department tracks down the parts and gets approval from the camper brand to make repairs.
It’s always best to inspect quality very carefully and read dealer and brand reviews online before buying and taking known-quality issues home with you.