Should You Buy a Used RV?

Derrek Sigler
by Derrek Sigler
(By welcomia/

Should you buy a used RV or stick with new? Let’s look into the pros and cons of each and help you on your way to RV ownership.

With Spring finally here (at least according to the calendar) and the RV show season in full swing across the country, the urge to buy an RV is getting pretty strong for many of us. I get it. Before I bought a camper, the urge was REALLY strong. My wife would have to restrain me a little when we went to a show, which worked until she got the urge, too. Sleeping in a tent is fun for a while, but even if you’ve got a really nice tent, it still is just a tent. When we finally decided to make the plunge, it opened up a question that I know many of you have too – Should I buy a used RV?

It’s a good question to ask. There are pros and cons when it comes to buying a used RV. You need to weigh them all for yourself and decide, but don’t fret. Here’s some of the things I looked into before I made my purchase that might be of some help to you.


This is undoubtedly the biggest factor in how and what you’re going to buy – how much can you afford to spend? This can be a little tricky. If you’ve got money saved up and can afford to buy outright without getting a loan, this is an advantage to a used RV purchase. Cash talks and you can often score a pretty hefty deal. Just be sure of what you’re buying, but we’ll touch on that more in a minute.


If you’re financing, it can be a little more difficult to decide. RV loan rates are pretty good right now, so check with your bank to see if they have a different rate for used versus new. My local credit union currently has a different rate for used, with a slightly higher interest rate compared to new. Compare the rates to know if you’re really saving anything. It can be harder to resist when you’re at an RV show and the sales people are telling you that that new expandable travel trailer you like is only $129 a month. Of course, that’s for 10 years on a camper priced at $8,500. I may be exaggerating some, but you get the point. Know what you can really afford before you buy.

Appreciate Depreciation

The old adage of buying a new car and that it loses thousands of dollars in value just driving off the lot is a tough pill to swallow. For the savvy purchaser, however, this can be a huge advantage. There are a lot of people who buy an RV totally on impulse. These people are your friends if you’re going to buy a used RV, especially from a dealer.

One of my cousins was planning an RV purchase. He wanted a travel trailer big enough for his family of four and maybe some friends, but he didn’t want a huge trailer, either. He waited a little while and found exactly what he wanted. Another family had bought it at an RV show totally on impulse thinking it was what they wanted. They used it a few times and realized they wanted something bigger, so they traded it in. My cousin snapped it up and saved thousands. If you’re patient, you can score some sweet deals.

Where to Look

(By Darryl Brooks/

There are several places to look to find used RV deals. Craigslist is ok, but on the decline these days. Many social media sites have marketplace options that are gaining in popularity, so that is a good place to look too. Of course, you need to check the RV Guide Used page to find great deals. You can also check with local RV dealers to see what they have. Don’t be afraid to travel to get to your RV, too. When I was a kid, we drove to Florida, bought a used RV from a family friend and camped all the way home. Great memories.

Warranties and Leaky Roofs

If you’re thinking of going with a used camper, know what you’re buying. Inspect everything, from the roof down to the frame. Look for water damage, mildew smells, warped panels and cracked seals. Remember that a bargain isn’t a bargain if it costs more money down the road. If you’re looking at a used RV at a dealership, ask to see the report they made at trade-in when they appraised it.

Of course, new is new and that usually means some type of warranty. Knowing your RV has a three-year warranty can be pretty enticing, especially when you think about those attractive lower interest rates and payments.

So… Should You?

That’s entirely up to you. If you want my advice, I’d say if the RV was in great shape and the used price fits your budget better, then it’s a no-brainer. You can often save thousands going with a used RV over a new one. But check out the new market, too. Talk to your bank if you’re financing it to see which one gives you the best rate and terms. Also keep in mind insurance costs, too. Take your time and don’t impulse buy. You’ll be happier in the end, and isn’t that the best reason to own an RV?