7 Major Mistakes When Buying An RV

7 major mistakes people make when choosing an RV. This was the headline from a recent Huffington Post article which you can find over here.

I’ll save you the jump. They are:

  1. Believing bigger is better
  2. Buying brand spanking new
  3. Failing to check carrying capacity
  4. Not considering what your tow vehicle can handle
  5. Traveling with too many aftermarket modifications
  6. Picking a poor floor plan
  7. Assuming you’ll get it perfect the first time

If you are looking into the lifestyle, let me add my spin on the 7 major mistakes people make when choosing an RV.

1. Believing that RVs are built like cars with the same level of quality

They aren’t. They are built nothing like cars. Surprisingly cheap components all sourced from the same handful of suppliers. Even coaches that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars are filled with cheap components. Components that often fail under light duty.

2. Not expecting to have problems when using an RV

If you embrace the RV lifestyle, expect to improve your problem-solving skills or empty your wallet to pay for that RV mobile technician or dealership to solve issues. Expect problems every time you take your RV on the road. That way, when you wind up somewhere without a problem, you will experience the most unusual part of owning an RV, no issues. Such joy!

3. The dealership will quickly and easily service your RV

You will experience lengthy delays in getting your RV issues resolved. Not unusual to be waiting for weeks, even months, to get certain issues fixed. Most Class A owners quickly discover that the factory is their best option to get service done on their coach. Dealers? There may be a few good ones out there but it is hit and miss. Parts are generally not in stock. Technicians aren’t really sure how to resolve certain issues. The high volume of service requests makes it almost impossible for dealers to be responsive. It is not unusual for RV owners to be without their rigs for extended periods of time.

4. Traveling in an RV is cheaper than other forms of travel

No doubt there are some people that find a way to travel without spending a lot of money. Buying an RV is not one of the best ways to accomplish that goal. When you factor acquisition costs, servicing costs, fuel costs, insurance costs, site fees and all of the other costs that you incur when travelling with an RV, you quickly realize that you could have purchased a lot of flights and hotels for the same money. That said, during COVID-19, there aren’t that many options for travelling right now.

5. Living in a campground will be fun

It depends. In Canada, many campgrounds fall under the rustic category. Not much different than a parking lot. Units tightly spaced. Parks very crowded. Lots of noise. Often difficult to secure a spot unless you plan well in advance. There are some amazing places to enjoy the lifestyle. We’ve visited many of them. They are beautiful. They are expensive. There are some less than ideal places to park an RV. We’ve visited many of them. They are not very nice. And not very cheap either.

6. If I don’t like my RV I can always sell it or trade it for another one

You can always sell it or trade it in. If you bought it new, be prepared for a shock. Depreciation, especially in the first few years of ownership, is severe. Let’s take a look. A brand new Newmar King Aire is up for sale on RV Trader:

With some negotiation, you might knock that price down to roughly $950,000 or so. Still, a million dollars to buy Newmar’s finest. Or closer to 1.5 million if you happen to buy one in Canada using Canadian dollars.

If, after a couple of years, you decide to exit the lifestyle and sell the coach, what might you expect?

This private seller is likely motivated and would happily take $500,000 for his lightly used King Aire. Roughly half the cost of when he bought it new.

These machines do not hold their value. Buying new, especially if your are uncertain about the lifestyle, is not a wise choice.

7. It won’t be much work

Looking after an RV is more like looking after a boat. It is not like looking after a car. Unless you decide to pull a small travel trailer or buy a camper van. Those RVs are definitely easier to operate. But they all take work. Setting up, tearing down, fixing problems will all take more work than you might expect.

Despite all of these mistakes, and we have made many of these mistakes along with many others, we love the lifestyle.

I’ll post a follow up on why we love the lifestyle next week.

1 reply
  1. William Kitchen
    William Kitchen says:

    60 days now in a new Newmar Dutch Star. 24 states so far. We love the lifestyle. Dutch Star ownership though, is quite the challenge.
    We read all the blogs, drove and inspected many brands, and believe we made the best decision. However we were ill-prepared for the shock of having to wait on on hold for Dutch Star (listening to terrible music) 30 minutes or more, when we need customer support. According to my friends, even the lesser brands answer the phone!
    When my dash AC failed, Newmar offered me a service appointment 6 weeks out. Spartan offered me a “possible appointment” 2 days drive away. Very frustrating! Finally after half a dozen calls and several emails to the dealer and Dutch Star, they found be a small company south of factory that fixed the problem. (Mask service was great.)
    So far there are half a dozen issues like this. Newmar gets 3 out of 10 on customer service. I can get much better phone support on the $300 microwave oven. At least they answer the phone…..
    One final comment. During our travels, lots of RV parks send out a customer satisfaction survey. The service shop that fixed our AC sent us one. So far, the dealer nor Newmar have cared to ask about the quality of the coach or the service. Why?


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