How to Buy a Used Motorized RV for Under $15k
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Buying a RV is a big investment in time, as well as money. It requires a lot of time to determine which RV is right for you. To make sure you get a good RV at a good deal, you’re going to invest a lot of time in physically looking at RVs in person and online as well as doing online research into different RV manufacturers.
You don’t have to do research, but for me, I want to know which manufacturer constantly gets rated highly and which one has current or formers owners saying avoid at all costs. RVs are intricate vehicles and you should also educate yourself on how they work. When someone starts telling you about how big the black tank is and you realize you have no idea what that is. Do your research to find out those answers before seeing one in person. You’ll feel better knowing the lingo the salesman is talking.
I read somewhere that first time RV owners will buy three different RVs in the first 5 years.
That’s probably about right.
We bought two within three years and are now in the market for a 3rd RV to purchase within 8 years so we’re a little slower. Our first RV was a small older travel trailer that we bought for $3k. I didn’t do much research as it didn’t fit our needs. Our next RV was an older Class C motorhome for $13k that we traveled and lived in for several years. I research this purchase extensively and we were much happier with this RV. It served us for many years and we traveled a lot in this RV. After a medical diagnosis, we have been homebound for the last two years but are in the process of looking for larger, newer travel trailer.
I’m telling you this because more than likely you will own more than one RV in your lifetime.
Each one will be distinct to your life at that particular moment. So don’t fret about finding the perfect RV when you first start looking. Instead, figure out how you will use the RV and look for RVs that match your lifestyle.
There are so many different type of RVs, and on top of that, different models within the different types of RVs. Potentially hundreds of different RVs that you could possibly buy. If you’re a first time RV buyer, you should see as many different RVs as possible before you even think about buying a RV.
The best way to see as many RVs all in one place is a RV show. We’re lucky that one of the biggest shows in the country happen within two hours from our home in Tampa Florida. It is quite a sight to see hundreds and hundreds of RVs all in one place.
They’re all open and ready for you to take a look. If you’ve been to dealerships, sometimes you can’t even go into a RV without a salesman hot on your heels or the RVs are locked and you have to go get a salesman to show you each one. At the show, there are some salesman at each spot, but usually they only talk to you if you ask them questions. When we started seriously thinking about buying a motorized RV, we went into hundreds at the show.
Eventually you start realizing what you like and don’t like about certain brands or models and you can narrow your search down. For us, we realized we liked the size and comforts of the Class C RV. Easy to drive, not too long and all amenities at your fingertips while driving down the road.
Once we knew we wanted a Class C, we narrowed our search to which manufacturer had better Class C RVs for fulltime living. This research along with our price range allowed us to do specific searches online at the different used RV listing websites and craigslist.
We decided to go with Lazydaze Class C RVs due to their ratings and owner loyalty. The problem is that they are sold in California only through the manufacturer. This is rate compared to how most RVs are sold. Most are sold through dealers who bought them from manufacturers, just like how regular vehicles are sold.
You can find many different manufacturer RVs in all locations of the country. For us, if just figured that I choose a RV that was like finding a needle in a haystack. We live in Florida so for the first few months, I could only find used Lazydazes in the western states. Luckily a dealer in Florida happened to get one and listed it on one of the used RV selling sites. I found it and that weekend, we went to go see it.
With a used motorized RV, you essentially are buying a used home and a used vehicle all in one. That means you have to verify all the “home” appliance work as well as all the vehicle parts work. You should have the dealer or owner show you that each appliance works such as the A/C, stovetop, hot water heater, microwave, furnace and generator.
You’ll also want to take a test drive to verify that the motor is in good shape and all the drivable parts work as they should. Check for signs of leaks, spongy floors, spongy spots around windows, delaminating sidewalls, wallpaper that is delaminating inside and any water spots on the ceiling. Since it is a house rolling down the road, ask if they have kept up with the yearly caulking maintenance. Unlike a stick home, once you put caulk around a window or door, you don’t have to reapply.
With a RV twisting and turning down the road, the caulk can stretch and gap which can cause leaking and the reason it needs to be reapplied yearly around windows and any intrusion on the RV. Hopefully the dealer/owner has service records/owner’s manuals to show you what has been maintenanced or replaced depending on the age of the RV. The owner/dealer should walk you around the RV and point out everything that works or needs to be addressed. An honest owner/dealer with tell you everything wrong about the RV as well as everything that is good. If they don’t point out any flaws, be wary.
We bought our Lazydaze from a dealer and picked it up the next weekend. There was a small campground across the street and they advised that we should stay there for a night to verify everything works as it should.
It’s a good thing we took them up on that offer. We drove the RV to the campground parked it at the office to register, came back out and the RV wouldn’t start. It wouldn’t even turn over. I called the dealer and found someone to give us a jump to get to our campsite. The dealer came and checked the battery. Sure enough, deader than dead.
They put in a new battery, no charge, and we had no other troubles. I’m not sure if we had bought the RV from a private owner and this situation occurred, but I would have asked to go in half for a new battery unless they specifically said that the battery was old and needed to be changed. In that case, I would have known that buying a new battery was one of the first things I needed to do and I would have adjusted the offer lower to account for the new battery.
Speaking of RV prices, there isn’t a set price for them like there is for cars. You can go to many places online and get a price for a car based on age, type, miles driven, etc. RV prices are very subjective and that leads to a lot of profits for dealers on new and used RVs.
One of the best places I’ve found that will show RV sold prices is PPL Motorhomes.
They buy and sell used RVs and are very open with their pricing. No need to go talk to a salesperson just to get a price on a RV. Their sold prices can give you an idea about the price you should pay for a comparable make and model elsewhere. Their website also has a wealth of information on RVs and they have a huge parts store selection. They’re located in Texas so centrally located to east and west. I have no affiliation with them, I just think they do a good job educating and helping people buy and sell RVs.
To buy a used motorized RV for under 15k, it will be an older model so you will definitely need to do your due diligence with asking many questions and making sure everything works as it should before you sign on the dotted line and hand over the cash. In some parts of the country there are people that will come give you.