10 RV Buying Tips to Get the Best Deal

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After 8 years of living in a fifth wheel (our first RV), we recently decided to pull the trigger and purchase our dream RV. Our dream RV was a small travel trailer with off-grid capabilities.

Like any RV buyer, we wanted to get our dream RV at a great price. Although it took a few months of shopping around, we were able to purchase our ideal model, brand new, for over 35% off the MSRP.

Here are 10 RV buying tips that will help you get the best deal on your next RV. Let’s get to it!

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Set your Budget before Shopping

The easiest way to prevent overspending on your RV purchase is by setting a strict budget before you start shopping. Determine if you will be financing your RV or paying cash and set a maximum purchase price or monthly payment before browsing RVs.

Shop New and Used RVs

Used RV for sale
Shop Both New and Used RVs

RVs depreciate quickly. In fact, most RV values will depreciate around 20% after just one year of ownership. For this reason, buying a used RV will generally get you more rig for your money.

However, new RV prices are not as crazy as they were a few years ago and many dealers are willing to seriously negotiate. Plus, new RVs may have more features and come with a valuable factory warranty.

We recommend shopping for both new and used RVs and see which is a better fit for your budget and family.

Although, used RVs with the same floorplan would have cost us $5,000 to $10,000 less than our new trailer, all the used models we toured needed work and the new trailer had a much more attractive interior than older models. If we had been able to find a used model in great condition, we would have purchased it.

Shop Previous Year Models

For new RVs, the best deals can be found by shopping for previous year models. As 2025 RVs start filling dealership lots, the dealers will be eager to sell previous model year RVs that have been sitting for a significant amount of time.

If there are any new 2023 model-year RVs left on the lot, the dealer will likely be willing to make you a sweet deal to get rid of this two-year old inventory.

As the year progresses, 2024 units will also be available at a bigger bargain. Ask your local dealer when they expect to receive new inventory of your desired brand, and try to buy the previous year model shortly before the new inventory is expected to arrive.

I have seen previous year units listed next to the new model at a discount of over 30%, even though they are almost identical.

Expand your Search Location

Map of the United States
Expanding your Search Location, Gives You More Options

Expanding your search location is one of the easiest ways to find a better deal. Florida is our home state, and where we started our search for our new travel trailer. However, all of the dealers in Florida had our desired model listed right at the MSRP.

After negotiating with the dealerships in Florida, they agreed to drop the price a bit, but they were all still above our budget. Instead of paying more or buying another RV with less features, we expanded our search.

We ended up purchasing our desired RV in Indiana (near the manufacturer) for over $10,000 less than we would have paid in Florida.

When purchasing outside of your state, make sure you check sales tax laws in both states to ensure you do not overpay or double pay.

Negotiate with at Least Two Dealers

Never be afraid to negotiate. While dealers may have been unwilling to negotiate during the RV boom, the bubble has burst and there are now deals to be had.

Shop around at multiple dealerships, and always ask for a discount off the listed price. If you are buying a new RV, you should ideally negotiate with multiple dealerships on the same model. Then, you can use the negotiated price from one dealer as leverage to get the other dealer to sweeten your deal.

Only Compare Apples to Apples

Suspension under travel trailer RV
Don’t Forget to Look at Features Under the RV

When comparing prices on similar RVs, it is important to make sure you understand any feature differences.

There is a current trend among RV manufacturers known as decontenting. Decontenting is simply removing features from RVs. Responding to consumer price sensitivity, many manufacturers have introduced more affordable RV options that come equipped with less bells and whistles.

This trend makes it super important for buyers to pay attention to the features included in a new RV. Affordable RV models may have lower-quality interior finishes or lack convenience features, such as auto leveling.

When checking out features on RVs, don’t just look at the inside. Also look at the roof and check out the features around and under the RV. The RV’s suspension, tires and holding tank valve locations are all important to know about before buying.

If the price seems too good to be true, ask for a list of included features and compare it to other units you are considering.

Ask for Free Stuff

During the negotiation process, you can also ask for free stuff to be included with your RV. For example, you can ask the dealership to include protective gear, such as insect screens and a surge protector with your purchase.

If you are buying a used RV, see if the previous owner is willing to include their hoses, leveling blocks and other RV accessories with the rig.

Buy the (Right) Extended Warranty

Mobile RV Repairman trailer.
A Warranty Will Save Money on Future Repair Work

Whether you are buying new or used, an extended RV warranty will help offset future repair expenses. However, RV dealerships rarely offer the best deal on extended warranties, and many dealers offer lower-quality plans.

As a sales tactic, many dealerships offer warranties only after the purchase price has been negotiated and try to pressure buyers to purchase the warranty while signing the paperwork. Avoid having to make a last-minute decision by having a plan for your warranty before the day of purchase.

Instead of purchasing an extended warranty through our dealership, we obtained one through Wholesale Warranties. This company only sells A-rated warranty programs, which ensures 90% of their customers’ claims are adjusted in 1 phone call.

Every customer also has access to a warranty specialist and a claim assistance team to answer any questions and ensure claims are processed in a timely fashion. Our warranty was also about half the price of the extended warranty offered by our dealer.

Bookmark our Wholesale Warranties link, so you can request a free quote when purchasing your RV.

Note: I am a Wholesale Warranties affiliate, so I will receive a small commission if you purchase a product through my link. Of course, I only work as an affiliate for products and services I personally use and love.

Get an Inspection

Never buy a used RV without an inspection. The inspector will look for water damage and other major issues to prevent you from buying a lemon. Find a certified RV inspector at the NRVIA’s website.

If you are new to RVing, it is also a good idea to get new RVs inspected. When shopping for our current travel trailer, we toured a brand new RV that had significant water damage in the walls and under the floor.

The salesperson at the dealership told us, “it is nothing to worry about, some water just got in when we washed the RV. We’ll re-seal the window before you take it home.” This explanation was clearly not an accurate depiction of the issue given the extent of the damage.

This issue was a clear deal breaker for myself and my husband, who is a certified RV technician. However, we likely would have missed this serious problem when we were new to RVing.

Issues in a new RV will likely be covered by your factory warranty, but getting an inspection will still prevent you from buying an RV with major issues.

Make Sure You Really Want an RV

Cruise America Rental RV at Lakefront Campsite.
If You Have Never Been RVing, Rent First

As someone who has lived in an RV for 8 years, it is hard for me to understand why some people don’t love camping. However, we have talked to many people over the years who thought RVing sounded great, but did not love their actual experience.

If you are in the market for your first RV, it is a good idea to make sure you actually love RV travel before purchasing a camper or motorhome. RVs depreciate quickly, so it will be difficult to get your money back if you decide this isn’t the right travel style for your family.

To test out whether or not RV camping is for you, consider renting an RV. Renting an RV is not cheap, but it is much cheaper than buying an RV you never or rarely use.

Thanks for reading our RV buying tips! Once you have your new RV, make sure to check out our list of essential RV gear.

Happy Camping!

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