So, you want to get away from it all, hit the road, travel the open road… but you don’t necessarily want to leave behind the comforts of home. A recreational vehicle (RV) is the answer. RVs are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association—almost 9 percent of American households own one, an increase of one million people over the last six years (thank a rebounding economy and millions of baby boomers reaching retirement age for this fact). If you’re thinking about purchasing your first RV, use these tips to get the right one for you at the right price.
New vs. Used
When buying new, you know you’re getting a vehicle without past problems, and you’ll enjoy warranty protection. However, RVs have a steep depreciation rate, and if you decide you don’t enjoy RV-ing or you purchased the wrong size RV, you risk making a costly mistake.
Buying used, of course, is cheaper. It enables you to take advantage of the depreciation the previous owner(s) suffered. If you go this route, evaluate the RV carefully and do independent research before you commit.
Nonmotorized vs. Motorized
If you don’t own a pickup truck or a large vehicle that can easily tow a nonmotorized RV (also called a travel trailer or fifth wheel), you’ll have to purchase a motorized one. Read online reviews of the models you’re considering to learn the specific pros and cons of each. Then ask the owners for more information, including why they are selling, who serviced their RV, when and where they bought it and whether there have ever been insurance claims against the RV.
Take the RV for a test drive, and if you’re still a “go,” have your mechanic evaluate the RV’s frame, drivetrain and the other mechanical elements. Obtain an estimate for any mechanic-recommended repairs, then factor that into your budget. Don’t forget to factor in insurance as well. It will be cheaper on a used RV. According the TheHartford AARP, there are a lot of benefits and discounts you can get with RV insurance to make sure it’s affordable for you.
Once you bring your new RV home, follow proper maintenance tips to keep your unit in good shape. These include:
- Be careful with your RV refrigerator. Novice RV-ers who make the mistake of storing their RV with the fridge as-is often come back to find rampant mold and mildew. Leave the refrigerator doors open, so the unit can air itself out. When you go to use your RV, pre-cool the refrigerator for 24 hours before filling it.
- Cover your tires during storage. Vinyl tire covers protect your tires from weather damage and potential failure.
- Disconnect the battery wires for long-term storage. This helps avoid battery drain.
- Keeping a window or two slightly open as well as the roof vent will help maintain proper venting and air circulation inside the RV.
- Have your axles and breaks serviced once a year.