Buying an RV can be confusing, especially if you’re a newbie like my husband and I were. We went to a dealer to get educated and found that unless we knew the right questions to ask, the process seemed even more overwhelming. There were so many options: Class C’s, Class A’s, 5th Wheels, Travel Trailers, and the list goes on.
We learned that you should go with high-level questions to keep you focused on the priority items. Use the following 7 questions to get you started in your search.
1. Ask a Dealer Which RVs Fit Your Needs.
You should think about what kind of RVing you’d like to do. My husband and I thought we wanted a Class C RV, around 25’ feet (pictured below). But as we started shopping, we realized that we didn’t know why we wanted a Class C, other than it seemed easier to drive than a Class A.
Try to picture what kind of travel you want to do before making you RV purchase. This is important because the salesperson should understand your vision, so he or she can steer you in the right direction. If you are unclear about what kind of RV you want, consider renting an RV before buying. Click here to view Campanda, an RV rental company that specializes in owner supplied RVs.
Some people think they want a large RV, but the trend is moving to smaller, more mobile options. Check out this article on people who traded their larger RVs for something smaller.
2. Ask a Dealer About Good Brand Names.
Your budget may dictate which brands are available to you, but if you have a price-range, or if you are willing to buy a used RV, you may have more brand options.
There is a variety of quality and service from each manufacturer. For example, some specialize in higher-end interiors, some put emphasis on good service after the purchase, and some brands have a large dealer network — making getting it serviced more convenient.
Decide on your priorities and then ask the dealer which brands match your needs. We drive a Tiffin, Allegro, and Tiffin is known for great service. Click here to browse Tiffin RVs.
3. Ask a Dealer What’s Included in the RV.
After you figure out what you need and want, start to narrow down your top two-three RVs. Then, make sure you know what’s included. If you plan to purchase the model on the lot, then what comes with it might seem obvious. But be sure to get the list of features to confirm what’s included.
If you are ordering a coach or having one delivered, then it’s even more important to have the features list. My husband and I made this mistake on a seemingly small item — the passenger side sun shade. We had been in so many models that had one, we assumed it came standard. But our particular model didn’t come with one.
This was a shocker! We’d have to order one from the manufacturer and have it installed (I suppose we could have done it ourselves–boo though). We still have yet to order and install the shade. Instead, it’s just easier to be grilled by the sun and quietly fume about it, while my husband drives in a nice cool seat.
4. Ask a Dealer How Much the RV Costs…For Real.
Knowing the real price of an RV might seem obvious to some, but if you are new this might be a surprise.
That’s the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price, which the dealer often changes. There are many factors that go into how the dealer prices the coach and how much wiggle room there is to negotiate. Here’s a great post by Gone With The Wynns on understanding RV pricing and how to avoid the pitfalls.
Once you know which coach you want, ask the dealer for the best price. Then, do your research to determine the market price. To be fair, a dealer might not offer you the best price until you are serious about purchasing the coach, and at the negotiating table.
5. Ask a Dealer What the Warranty Covers.
If you buy a new or used coach from a dealer, a warranty should be included. Be sure that you are very clear on what the warranty covers, and for how long. Then, you should decide if you need an extended plan as well, to cover things outside of the standard warranty, or once it expires. We purchased an extended warranty, and thank goodness because we’ve learned that repairs are a constant part of RV life.
6. Ask a Dealer What’s Included in the Service.
This might not occur to you if you are new to RVing, but it’s important to ask the dealer what kind of service level they guarantee after you buy the coach. This could range from how they care for the coach after the purchase, to how quickly will they repair the coach if an issue arises within the warranty period, or even beyond.
We learned that not all dealers are created equal after you buy a coach. On our coach’s maiden voyage to Parker, Arizona, there were terrible scraping noises and violent wind gusts rocking us. We discovered that the slide slid out about three inches — super dangerous! We assumed that the dealer would be horrified and want to help us immediately.
Not so much. It was going to be three weeks before we could even get an appointment. That didn’t even include the additional time if a new part needed to be ordered. We were leaving in two weeks for a year-long journey, so I begged the dealer to help us sooner. They eventually did, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience for anyone. Unfortunately we have not had great experiences with dealers servicing our coach. It doesn’t help though that we move a lot and can’t leave our RV with them for a month. But c’mon a month? Seriously, why?
7. Ask a Dealer if There Are Additional Perks in the Purchase.
Perks can be a huge money saver! Our dealer offered a one-year membership to both Thousand Trails and Colorado River Adventures. This was one-year of FREE camping in a number of places, which saved us hundreds of dollars. If you work those programs right, you could even save more than that. Perks like this can be a good way to offset other costs when shopping for an RV.
Buying an RV Can Be Fun!
Buying an RV at a dealership can be really exciting. Dealers are very helpful, but the experience can also be overwhelming if you don’t ask the right questions. Use these 7 questions to help you navigate your RV purchase, Lastly, if you buy an RV from a dealer, be sure to go several times and go into at least 50 RVs. This will help you learn about RVs and better understand what’s going to work for you.
Have you purchased an RV at a dealership? What questions did you ask?
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