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6 Well-Hidden Facts You Need to Know Before Buying an RV

I have had a great deal of experience both buying and selling RVs and think people should understand the mechanics of doing these things.

If you are thinking about buying a recreational vehicle it is very important for you to understand that a lack of knowledge can cause major problems for you.

Sellers want you to know as little as possible, and when you fall prey to their game, you can really cause some damage to yourself.

The purpose of this article is not to frighten, but rather to enlighten so that you can buy an affordable RV that you can enjoy for many years to come.

Learn about important information that RV sellers hide from buyers

Learn about important information that RV sellers hide from buyers

There Is No Such Thing as a Cheap RV

Never be lulled into thinking that if you buy an inexpensive coach you will save money because recreational vehicles all are bottomless financial pits.

Once you make your purchase, you will face a constant slew of licensing, repair, upkeep and maintenance expenses that will really put a dent in your wallet.

Furthermore, traveling in a recreational vehicle is much more expensive than you may have thought.

Those old five-dollar-a-night RV parks are long gone and have been replaced by those that charge a national average of $40 per night.

Recreational vehicles are luxury items, and are given that name for a reason. To think otherwise is a mistake.

RV Costs Are Not Like Those of Cars

When a person buys an RV, he often makes the assumption that travel units are like cars and trucks when it comes to general costs.

This simply is not true.

The fees involved in ownership of a car are generally much less than those for owning a motor home, camper or trailer.

For example, cars do not have to be stored, road vibration does not do as much damage to them, and because they cost less initially, fees for sales tax and similar things are much less.

In Florida vehicle sales tax averages 6%.

So, a car that costs $30,000 (about average for the price of an automobile these days), will cost an additional $1800 for sales tax. A new RV can easily cost $100,000, which means the person who buys it will pay $6,000 in sales tax dollars.

Costs for items such as professional detailing are also much higher. One pays around $50 to have his automobile detailed, but those who work on Rvs charge by the foot. Since most coaches average 30 feet in length, it is common for someone to have to pay upwards of $300 to wash, wax and clean them.

Then there is the issue of mileage. Many of today’s cars get 30-plus miles per gallon, but a gas engine RV will be lucky to get 10 and a diesel pusher might get 12.

This means that people traveling in recreational vehicles can pay three times more for gas than people driving cars.

All RVs are expensive to own.

All RVs are expensive to own.

Making Changes Can Be Expensive

Unfortunately, situations, needs and wants change as time passes. The unit you enjoyed owning so much in the past may now be the basis for issues that are making you uncomfortable.

Whatever your situation, you need to understand that making changes means losing and/or spending thousands of dollars.

This is why you should do your best to consider the future when buying your coach.

Storage Is a Bigger Issue Than Most People Realize

Unless you own property that is zoned for RV parking and is large enough to hold a coach, you will also have to find and pay for a safe and convenient place to park your coach when you are not using it.

Since you can't just park one anywhere you have to make arrangements to pay for long term, secure parking.

In some areas, these are very expensive (as much as $250 per month), and in others they are hard to find due to zoning regulations.

Furthermore, when you do find a suitable spot, you will have to make sure it will be there whenever you return from a trip. This means that you will be paying for it whether your coach is parked there or not.

As long as you own your motor home, trailer or camper, you will have to pay for storage, and the costs add up quickly.

Safety Is Rarely Discussed by Salesmen

While RV travel is exciting and fun, it also comes with a fair amount of risk.

I have never heard any salesman discuss issues such as the dangers of

  • improper wheel base ratios
  • slide rooms
  • or fire hazards.

despite the fact that any of them can draw the line between life and death.

Quality and Construction Problems Abound

Those who want a real eye opener should pay a visit to an RV manufacturing plant sometime.

If people could see for themselves how poorly most recreational vehicles are constructed as opposed to their high asking prices, they would never buy them.

Units may look sturdy enough to the naked eye, but most are made from thin, cheap materials that would not be able to sustain the coach in a crash. The video I include here, shows it all.

If you want further proof of shoddy construction, stop by the repair area of any large RV dealership. There is so much business that the shops cannot keep up with it.

Owners constantly complain about the need for ongoing maintenance, but never stop to think about the reason for it.

RVs simply are poorly made, but they are built to give the impression that they are as sturdy as brick and mortar homes. The truth is that the walls of an RV are at most 3 inches thick, while those of houses average 7 inches. That may not seem like much of a difference, but it is.

One of the main reasons is that houses are not subject to road vibrations, whereas motor homes, campers and trailers are constantly being bounced around during travel.

The truth is that manufacturers must make RVs as light as possible in order for their chassis and engines to be able to support them and move them down the road. Also, they save a great deal of money by building them this way.

You want to make sure that the RV your family travels in is secure.

You want to make sure that the RV your family travels in is secure.

Learn the Facts Before You Buy an RV

Owning a recreational vehicle goes far beyond simple enjoyment.

It involves major expenses and allowing enough time to make spending so much money worthwhile. It also includes your commitment to understanding what you are getting into when you purchase a motor home, travel trailer or camper.

I have been an enthusiast for more than 50 years, so what I have written here is based on my own knowledge and experiences.

I love the life, and I want you to love it too, but only if you go into it with your eyes wide open.

If you don't learn what you need to know about recreational vehicles before you buy you could create major problems for yourself.

You can avoid most of them by simply doing your homework.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Which is the most durable brand of travel trailer?

Answer: You'd be wise to do a lot of looking before you buy because quality can vary considerably. Ask yourself these questions like these:

Are the doors and drawers solid or hollow?

Do they close tightly?

Are the windows dual or single pane?

Does the floor seem solid?

If a unit seems "tinny," it probably won't hold up so do your homework. If you choose a previously owned trailer, you'll be able to see how well it has held up. That's your safest bet, no matter the brand.

Question: Is there a "consumer reports" type site that is reliable and contains information on the various makes of RVs?

Answer: If you go online and search "RV Consumer Group," you'll be able to order a report similar to what you are asking to see. They used to sell them for multiple years, but now you have to buy one for each year.

Question: Can I repair a roof leak?

Answer: If it is a small one that has done no major internal damage, you can seal it. However, if it has gotten into the lower ceiling, your best bet is to have a pro repair it. It's tough to tell if damage has been done without tearing apart the internal leak area, so just sealing may or may not work.

Question: Would some of these problems be less in owning a 20 foot conversion van? The one I’m looking at is a 2005 Pleasure Way in beautiful condition.

Answer: Not really. Some of the problems may be less than others, but the basics are still the same regardless of type. Conversion vans still have engines, generators, appliances, plumbing, tires, size limitations, etc. There is no escaping ownership issues, unfortunately.

© 2015 Sondra Rochelle