Buy used when
you first break into the RV world
There's a saying among people who
drive recreational vehicles: The first RV is the wrong one.
"I don't know anyone who's been
in RVing for awhile that's still in their first RV. You just know
you're going to trade it in," says Joe Kieva, author and publisher
Know How, an RV information site for consumers.
"You learn what you like and don't like by owning
one and driving it. The only way to learn is hands-on."
Starting off with a used RV can make that lesson
a lot less painful to your pocketbook. Why spend a fortune on what
amounts to your learning rig?
Avoid the big hit
By buying a used RV, you let the first owner take the big depreciation
hit. The savings can be substantial. An RV loses 40 percent of its
value in its first year alone.
Bob Gummersall, chief technical officer at RVers
Online, did a study
complete with spreadsheets detailing the costs of owning a 3-year-old
RV vs. the costs of owning a new RV.
It wasn't even close. Buying a 3-year-old RV
cuts ownership costs in half. That's in half.
And get this -- a well-maintained RV that's
a couple years old may actually need less repair work than a new
Folks may like to think that they can drive
a new RV off the lot and hit the road for a long adventure. But
chances are they won't get very far.
"You've got to expect when you drive it off
the dealer lot that you're going to have a list of things that need
to be fixed before you get it home," Gummersall says.
It's not unusual for a brand-new RV to spend
20 days in the repair shop in its first year.
"By year two, most of these problems are fixed,"
RVs take time to prime
So, strange as it may seem, an RV that's been broken in and well-maintained
for a couple of years may be an easier ride than a brand new one.
"The 4-year-old motor home is probably more
operable than it was new," Gummersall says.
There's also a good chance that a 4-year-old
RV won't be loaded down with a bunch of miles. Most RVers drive
just 3,000 to 5,000 miles a year. Lots of people change RVs every
three or four years.
"People get into them and they're always looking
for a better deal --- something better than what they have," says
Paul Snapp, vice president of sales for RVSearch.com.
So low-mileage, used RVs are definitely out
there. Tracking down a good one takes some work.
"You really have to do your homework if you're
looking at used RVs," Kieva says. "Everybody is looking, and when
they come across a good one, it moves quickly."
First things first --
Be sure to get your financing all squared away before jumping into
the big RV search. Banks, credit unions and independent finance
companies all offer RV financing. A list of RV financing companies
is available on the Recreational
Vehicle Industry Association Web site.