New vs Used RVs

RV Shopping

We got to thinking about the comparisons of shopping for new versus used RV’s because today, we didn’t have much time to go out looking at units.  We ran to a consignment shop up the road from us to look at some used units. Learn more about us here. They only deal in used RV’s, so we thought was it was nice to see some of the differences in the units after they’ve been used a few years.

So what are the advantages of getting a used one? Are there any? What are the downsides?  We’re going to try to explore that here.  

vintage travel trailer near a lake and mountain

Ok, so there is the obvious question of why do you want to RV? Are you going to do it full time or just for weekends/extended outings? Let’s start with a few basic questions:

  • Who all will be traveling with you in the RV – just a couple, a family, how many?
  • Do you want to tow or drive?
  • What are your must-haves?
  • What are your would be nice to haves?
  • Where do you want to travel? Are you just going to the same campground or seeing the country?
  • What type of RV is right for you?
vintage motorhome under the stars

Types of RV’s

Driveable types include:
  • Class A (big bus types) price range $60,000 – well over $2 million
  • A Class B which is more of a converted van – Price range $40,000 to more than $200,000
  • Class B plus – there are a few that are classified in this range but I think they are growing. The one that comes to mind is Leisure travel vans.  We really like them but more later.
  • Class C Built on an automotive chassis, usually looks like a box on wheels in my opinion. Price $50,000 – more than $150,000
  • Class Super C – more of a heavy-duty type unit, usually powered by a diesel truck engine similar to a semi-truck. Price range $160,000 – well over $500,000
Towable types
  • Fifth wheel – towable – usually the largest type of towable units, with heights up to 13’ and weights from 4,000 to 30,000 lbs and a price range of $20,000 – $200,000.
  • Travel Trailers (sometimes called bumper pulls). This is a traditional type trailer that hooks to the rear of a tow vehicle.  There are a number of sizes, weights, and styles. They are typically 11’ and weight between 1,500 – 11,000 lbs. A price range of $6,000 – $60,000 but some can really get up there in price.
  • Toy Hauler – can be either a travel trailer or fifth wheel with a garage that is used to carry large items such as bikes, golf carts, motorcycles or other sporting equipment. Price ranges for new ones range from $10,000 to $140,000.
  • Truck Camper – This is usually a unit carried in the bed of a truck. Generally they are small to fit in the bed of a truck but an efficient living space and some have slides to expand the livable space.  Price ranges from $8,000 – over $50,000.
Vintage Tear Drop trailer

The options are incredibly diverse on floor plans and sizes etc. So which is right? The most common RV for full-time living is probably the Class A motorhome but every type can accommodate the full-time lifestyle.  When looking for a unit you have to consider quality construction, materials used, livable space, insulation. None are really built for full time living so from what I can find out staying on top of maintenance is vital.

Maintenance

Just like owning a home, maintenance is huge, probably more so important on an RV, since you will basically be causing an earthquake in it every time you use it.  Probably the most important item to stay on top of, no pun intended, is the roof since the roof is the easiest way for water to get in and damage your unit. Check the seals every three months and keep them conditioned. Make sure to check the roofs edges, vents, A/C units, anything that caused a hole in the roof. If you notice any irregularities you’ll want to get those sealed up or changed as soon as possible to avoid any big headaches down the road.

Class B+ under the stars.

Shopping

While shopping for an RV, especially a used one, check the roof for any sign of issues, current or former.  It should be fairly easy to tell if there were any repairs done to the roof or seals. Also just like the roof the next biggest place for concern in sealing is the slides. Because the slides move in and out just about every time it is used, the seals on them have a tendency to wear faster than the seals on the roof.  

Class B motorhome

Ok so back to the question of which RV is right for you, everyone’s situation is different.  We started out really liking the Class A and in some sense we still do. But it came down to a matter of price. We knew that buying a class A vs a truck and towable was pretty close to the same price. Since we aren’t hitting the road for a little bit of time we needed a vehicle now that we could drive daily. Hence why we got the Tundra, it serves as an everyday vehicle yet we can use it as our tow vehicle when the time comes.


That really ruled us out of the driveable unless we come across a great deal that can tow our truck. Learn more about what TraD’n Dreams is here. Generally, a diesel pusher will work but again, the price is an issue on that one for us. Which leaves us in the market for a Travel Trailer.  

Abandoned travel trailer left in a field to rot.

So new vs used? Well, we like the idea of the new just because it’s new. But after really thinking about it as you should too, is new the better option?  There is a massive depreciation rate for RVs. In their book “Living the RV Life” get it here. Marc Bennet from RVLove talk about depreciation, where he says “It’s not uncommon for RV’s to depreciate 10 percent year over year, so paying on a long-term loan will leave you more and more upside down in the purchase every year.”

Pros and Cons

Benefits of buying new:
  • Well, you’ll know the entire history of the unit.
  • If you order a new unit you can pick out the colors that you want.
  • There is a warranty usually for one year sometimes 2 that will generally take care of most issues that will come up.
  • New units have the latest tech features.
  • But from horror stories we’ve been hearing those warranties are a pain in the backside to get covered. Not all the time, but we’ve heard of people with units in the shop for months waiting for warranty work and someone deciding if it is covered or not.
Cons of buying new:
  • Higher price tag
  • Higher depreciation rate
  • Issues that will probably need to be taken care of from the factory.
  • Warranty issues that will need to be taken care of.
Used units can come with a few major benefits too:
  • They are usually cheaper,
  • The bugs are probably worked out by the previous owners.
  • The depreciation is more than likely going to be less, you’ll still have some but not as bad.
  • We’ve noticed that there are some really quality older units out there within a price range of lesser quality units that are new.
Cons of buying used
  • You might not always see major damage right away.
  • Probably going to need to update and redecorate which could cost some money.
Vintage Truck and Trailer

So the moral of the story is to decide what your goals are, what you want out of the RV and what you’re willing to put into it. For us, the options of a used one is a matter of price and convenience.  We’re not 100% sold on the trailer idea vs the motorhome.

I’ve heard a great deal of talk about people that get the unit they think they want and within a year or two are trading it in because it isn’t what they thought. So for us, used is starting to be a good option. We can get a decent unit for a great price, use it for a few years and as long as we take care of it, sell it and use that as a downpayment on a different unit without too huge of a loss. Doing this will give us some experience with the options that will work for us and our style.

What did you decide on? Which way are you leaning? Let us know and let’s dream together.

Class C motorhome with a view of the mountains.

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