Buying an RV is a bit different than buying a car. Here are a few tips on how to buy an RV to find the best RV brand for your situation.
Research the RV company’s manufacturing and inspection processes. Does it have a separate pre-delivery inspection process, or do the same workers do installation sign-off on the inspection?
You’ll run into issues with any recreational vehicle you buy, but some have better reputations for build quality than others. Build quality is also more nuanced than laminated construction over stick and tin or Azdel over lauan sidewalls. Many manufacturers in the Elkhart, Indiana, area give tours of their factories, which is a great way to gain more insight into construction.
Consider whether the RV manufacturer provides good service after the sale. Is the service department easy to reach? Does it work with dealers to provide quick service? Online knowledge bases and forums can also go a long way toward helping you diagnose and solve issues on your own.
Look at RV reviews on websites such as RVInsider.com to find out the general consensus on particular brands and models. You’ll see that people have issues with almost all models, but some RVs have better average scores than others for a reason.
Most RV warranties last one year, and some are transferable to secondary owners during that time.
Grand Design, for example, offers a one-year warranty against factory defects on the entire RV, plus a three-year warranty on structural components. Forest River, however, only offers a one-year warranty that doesn’t transfer.
If you’re buying a lightly used RV that is less than a year old, see whether the manufacturer allows warranty transfers.
Having a relationship with your home dealer is important. An RV company may say you can go to any dealer in its network for service, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get quick or reliable service. Your home dealer has an interest in maintaining a relationship with you, so it’s best to stick with that one for repairs whenever possible.
This means you should look around for a dealership while shopping for an RV. Find out how dealers treat their customers before and after a sale. Would you get the service you needed if you had an issue with your RV?
Of course, nothing substitutes for comparing RV floor plans in person. Spec sheets can only tell you so much. Take time to sit inside the RV and imagine being with all your family members and friends who might come along. Some RVs feel more liveable on the inside than others, and that’s a personal thing.
You should be able to test drive a motorhome if you present yourself as a serious buyer. You probably won’t be able to hitch up a travel trailer to “test tow” though, so make sure you’re shopping well within your vehicle’s tow capacity. You can also rent a fifth wheel or camper for a few days to get a feel for how it tows with your vehicle.