Purchasing A Used RV

Have you been thinking of joining the RV community?  Besides the different types of RV units available and deciding what will best fit your needs, you also have to navigate whether to purchase from a private seller or a dealer. We have done both and want to share our experiences with you to help make your RV ownership go as smooth as can be. Today’s post will focus on private sellers.

Our first three RV’s were purchased from private sellers; two of which where found on Craigslist. Craigslist can be a very useful tool but it is also full of scammers. Learning to spot a scam will help you weed out the ads that are “too good to be true” and focus on the potentially good deals that are out there. Craigslist also takes diligence; if you do not see what you like in the beginning, keep looking.

Buying from a private seller can be a positive experience for both parties. As a buyer, here are some tips that can help ensure you have a positive experience.

Determine The Weight of the Camper:

The weight of the camper is an important consideration. The seller should know the weight but if you find they are vague with the number do some research. Assuming the owners manual is long gone, campers usually have a metal tag on them with the weight information. The internet is another resource to help you determine the weight of the camper. Dry weight is the amount the camper weighs off the factory floor. Gross weight is the amount of weight the camper typically weighs, with empty tanks,  loaded with all of your belongings and is a more accurate number for towing.

Know Your Tow Limitations:

Probably the biggest mistake a person can make when buying a RV unit is to not know the limitations of their tow vehicle.The owners manual is a good place to start but researching online will take that one step further. There are several factors that can impact how much weight your tow vehicle can handle. These would be additional considerations: the age of your vehicle, if your vehicle has a tow package, or does it have mirrors made for towing.

Set it UP/Hook it UP!

If you are looking at pop-up campers, set the camper up. Make sure all the cranks work, the latches latch, the stabilizers come down, the support arms support, and make sure the canvas is in good condition. The same is true, except the canvas part, about travel trailers.

The next thing would be to hook everything up. Do not buy a RV unit without knowing that the electrical outlets have power, the lights illuminate, the air conditioners cool, the heater heats, and the water lines have no leaks. Check the manufacture date on the batteries. These are important things you want to know before you decide to buy.

The bottom line when buying from a private seller is this simple fact: Unless you are a buying a newer RV with a transferable warranty, RV’s from private owners do not come with any type of warranty. If something is wrong and goes undetected that is on you and the expense of fixing that is on you.

Cash or Finance/Clear Title or Lien

There are a few last considerations that are helpful to have worked out before making a decision to buy. Will this purchase be a cash transaction or will you need to secure a loan. If buying from a private seller with cash, be sure that the you’ll get a clear title without a lien holder. If you are financing the purchase you will find that loan terms for RVs are not like terms for automobiles. It’s not uncommon to find loan terms from 12 to 20 years, depending on the cost of the RV. Also, be sure to check with your tax adviser,  some RV loans are tax deductible!

These are our few simple tips that we hope you find helpful. If you have others, please let us know!


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