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Should I Buy a New or Used RV? The Pros and Cons

Making the decision to buy an RV is a big one – and there’s a lot to think about before you take the plunge. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is whether to buy new or used. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to do your research and decide what’s right for you. Here’s a quick overview of the main points to consider when making your decision.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Pros of Buying a New RV

WARRANTIES –  A new RV generally comes with a manufacturer’s warranty that will cover certain things going wrong for a year or two. Plus, you typically get the option to purchase an extended warranty for an additional three to five years of coverage. 

UNTOUCHED EVERYTHING – No previous owner means no smells, no mess, and the toilet has never been used!  For some buyers, this is reason enough to buy new.

GET WHAT YOU WANT – Buying new means you can choose the exact model you want. You can sometimes even custom order your RV with personalization from color to cabinet material. (Hopefully, this means that you won’t need to do any renovations when you receive your RV.)

FINANCING – Most buyers will need to finance a new RV, but luckily being new it usually comes with better terms (APR, loan length, etc.) and possibly a lower payment than a used RV. It’s often very simple to set up through your dealership.

WELCOME EVERYWHERE – If you buy new, you can rest easy knowing you can take that RV just about anywhere.  Many RV resorts have a 10-year rule and don’t accept RVs older than 10 years old.

If you buy new, no RV park will turn you away for the age of your RV for 10 years.  One less thing to worry about.

Cons of Buying a New RV

PRICE – A new RV is the most expensive RV you can buy.  In addition to the price tag, you’ll pay more for taxes, registration (in some states), and insurance.

DEPRECIATION – What’s worse is that the value of that new RV depreciates greatly over the first year or two that you own it.  If you don’t think you’ll keep your RV for more than a couple of years, buying new may not be the best choice for you.

SHAKE DOWN – Every new RV needs a “shake-down” cruise.  You will almost always come across issues in the first few months of ownership that you will have to address.  It will be helpful if you are near your dealership to get warranty work completed.

It will also be helpful if you are not needing to use the RV when it needs to go to the shop. So if you’re planning to buy a brand-new RV and set off on a cross-country road trip or full-time adventure, be aware of this consideration.

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Pros of Buying a Used RV

COST – Used RVs were selling for (unreasonably) high prices during the huge surge in RV interest of 2020-21. But generally, you can find someone willing to make a deal on a used RV.

RESALE – You should experience less depreciation on a used RV if you maintain it well.  This means if the specific type of RV doesn’t work well for you, you can re-sell it, possibly without losing your shirt.

PRE-LOVED – Hopefully you’re buying from someone who took great care of the RV, and they’ve already done the shake-down trips.  Potentially they’ve even made some upgrades or improvements to the RV that you get to benefit from without directly paying for it out of your pocket.

INSTANT GRATIFICATION – You can buy it today.  The RV is physically sitting on the lot, available for you to drive away with.  Many new RVs come with a long timeline for delivery.  If you’re ready to start your adventure right away, used may be the way to go.

Cons of Buying a Used RV

NO WARRANTIES – If something major breaks on your first RV trip, the full financial burden of fixing it is on you.

PARTS & SERVICE – If your make and model of used RV is no longer in production, you could have a harder time finding parts and getting service done on your specific RV.  It might also be more expensive.

NOT ACCEPTED EVERYWHERE – Due to the 10-year rule mentioned above in the pros for buying new, the downside of buying an older used RV is that some RV parks may not accept you.

This is an important consideration to be aware of. But in our experience, we’ve only been denied at a handful of parks. And we have always been able to pretty easily find something else in the area.  So in my opinion, this is not a deal breaker. 

UNKNOWN HISTORY – You are probably buying some unresolved and unforeseeable issues when choosing a used RV.  There is an unknown history, and the older the RV, the longer the list.

The previous owners of our Class A motorhome installed new flooring. This felt like a bonus when we toured the RV.  But after much use, we have had issues with our slide because it “clunks” coming in and out due to the aftermarket flooring install.

TIRES – This is a serious consideration whether you are purchasing a drivable motorhome or a towable (fifth wheel or travel trailer).  A new RV comes with new tires.  But a used RV might come with some very old tires.

As the old adage goes in the RV world, your tires are more likely to age out than wear out. This was true on our motorhome we bought used, and we asked for a concession on the sales price to cover new tires.

The previous owner would not agree to drop the price because the tires only had 20,000 miles on them.  Again going back to that “unknown history”, we didn’t feel comfortable driving on the existing tires.

Ultimately, the best option for you will depend on your individual circumstances.

Deciding what is best for you can be a daunting task. After all, each of us has our own unique needs and our own respective set of circumstances that should be taken into account when determining the proper course of action. With that in mind, it is important to survey your current situation as thoroughly as possible to glean an understanding of what option would serve you best. It might take time to consider your pros and cons but ultimately the decision should come down to what works best for you specifically. There are many choices out there and knowing how they apply to your individual circumstance will help guide you towards making the right decision.

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Buying a new or used RV is a big decision. There are pros and cons to both options, so it’s important to weigh your needs and budget before making a decision. Ultimately, the best option for you will depend on your individual circumstances. If you’re unsure of which route to take, we can help. Our team of experts will work with you to find the best RV for your needs and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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