How to Buy a Used RV

Published On January 12, 2022

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With the skyrocketing rise of people taking to the RV lifestyle, the demand for new and used RV is following suit. But buying a used RV is much different than buying a used car. It’s more, well…complicated. Luckily, we know a thing or two about RVs!

If you are up in the air about what type of RV you need, this article should help you narrow it down. So if you’re in the market for a new RV (new to you, but actually pre-owned), read on.

Tips for Buying Used RV

Set Your Budget. Money is often a major factor when choosing your perfect used RV, and should be the first thing you consider in order to hone your search. Custom fixtures and granite countertops are nice if you can afford it, but if money is tight, factory-installed amenities work just fine. Consider how often you plan to camp and use your RV. The more you use it, the more money you may want to invest in your “second home.”

Start Your Search Online. This is a great way to get your feet wet when you are first searching for your used RV. It will also give you an idea of what’s out there in the marketplace. However, if you decide to buy from a private party, be sure to conduct the transaction in person, in a public place, and thoroughly inspect the RV before you even make an offer to buy. More about RV pre-checks below. Alternatively, buying an RV at a dealership affords you the benefits, such as a wider selection and access to a repair shop.

Widen Your Search. There are many ways to find a great used RV. It could be word of mouth, at a dealership, through a Facebook group, Craigslist, etc. If you don’t mind traveling a little to pick up your RV, you might find the perfect deal that’s a bit out of your way. RV Trader and Classy RV are both great online resources.

Take it for a Test Drive. Once you found a good used RV you really want, take it for a test drive as part of the inspection. Expect a learning curve as you discover how everything works. Ask the seller questions, no matter how small or silly they may seem.

Used RV Pre-checks to Consider

Once you arrive to look at your potential RV, an inspection is a must. Here are the main points to consider.

Start with the roof. Leaky roofs can wreak havoc on the inside of your RV and are often annoyingly hidden from view. It can cause rot inside the walls, weakening the structure, and the resulting mold can make you sick. You want to avoid the resulting damage because it’s super expensive to fix. Hire a professional to inspect the roof if you are not comfortable doing it yourself.

Roof Inspection Points

  • Check all seams and joints for cracks, and material for rips, tears, or worn spots.
  • Check the state of sealants and caulkings. Pay attention for signs of age and drying out.
  • Pull all vent covers and inspect the seams underneath.
  • Get a hose and spray down the roof to make sure the gutters are in good working order to shedding the water. Then get inside the RV and listen for drips.
  • Remove the waste tank and fridge vent covers. Take a flashlight and look down into the vents for signs of blockage, such as bird or insect nests.

Inside the RV. Crawl into the upper bunk, lift all cushions, inspect the doors, windows, and seams for signs of mold or leakage. Look under the sinks, around the toilet and shower. If anything smells musty or old, chances are there’s been a leak before and special attention should be given to those areas.

Millions of people all over the country have used RVs. If you’re looking to join the ranks, have fun seeing what’s out there for your perfect RV!