In writing about our personal experiences, we sometimes mention products or services that we use or recommend. This page may contain affiliate links for which we receive a commission.
For those new to the world of RVing, there are numerous opportunities to be “taken in” by the glitz and glamour of RVs and the RV lifestyle. Perusing RVs in a dealership’s showroom or at an RV show nearby can effectively cost you quite a few dollars!
There’s an overwhelmingly large variety of RVs to chose from, and if you don’t have a firm idea of what you’re looking for, you can easily be lured into buying something that is a better deal for the RV salesman than for you!
To play it safe, you should always have an idea in the back of your mind of what’s most practical for your particular situation.
Like most auto dealers, RV salesmen work on commission. Therefore, the more money they can get you to pay for something, the more money they earn.
Being knowledgeable in a car purchase is fairly easy. With online pricing guides such as Kelly Blue Book, you can enter the sales lot armed with enough information to keep the final dollar figure within a reasonable margin of what would be considered a good deal.
However, RVs are a different matter…
Buying From An RV Dealer
It’s unlikely that you will find 2 RV dealers selling the same brand and model of RV — within a reasonable distance.
Some RV dealers specialize in trailers; others specialize in high-end motorhomes. By not selling the same type of RVs, they have eliminated competition. As a result, comparative shopping becomes a whole lot harder!
With limited resources on the Internet, it’s very difficult to determine whether the price you’re presented with is actually a fair price or not.
Buying At An RV Show
RV shows can compound this problem, as some sales staff will use pressure tactics to get you to make a decision — today — right now on the spot. After all it’s a “sale” and if you act now “you’ll save money.”
While attending an RV show in Tucson a number of years ago, I was looking through a recently introduced diesel pusher motorhome. The salesman accompanying us (hot on our heels to make a sale) started at $125,000. Within 45 seconds the price had dropped twice — down to $95,000! Of course, we weren’t about to buy a motorhome that day. But with those kind of tactics, who knows what the real value was?!
About RV Extended Warranties
Extended warranties are another great way for an RV dealer to make money.
They buy the policy at a reduced rate, mark it up by a large percentage, then pressure you — the unsuspecting new RV owner — into buying it at the same time that you buy the RV. That way, they can conveniently roll it over into the financing plan that they can arrange for you right on the spot.
Oh by the way, in case you didn’t realize it, the financing they arrange pays them a percentage as well!
To get the best price on an extended RV warranty, go back home and do your own research first. Take the time to find out exactly what is covered and what is not. That way, if and when you need to file a claim, there will be no nasty surprises.
You should choose a reputable insurance carrier. Otherwise, a fly-by-night company could go out of business right after the RV dealer has gotten their commission. No matter what, the RV dealer will get their money, and you will be the loser in the end.
How To Find A Reputable RV Dealer
The best advice before you buy a new or used RV is to get to know the dealer.
If you do business with a company that’s been in the same location for 30 years, odds are you’re going to get a reasonable deal. After all, they have a reputation to protect.
I made the mistake of trusting a used car & RV outfit once. I traded in a car to buy a secondhand Class C mini-home. About 60 days later, I got a letter from my bank stating that the original loan on the car was in default.
Turns out, he wasn’t able to resell my trade-in as fast as he thought he could and little did he care if my credit was damaged while the car sat on his lot. I brought a witness with me and confronted him on the issue, and with the threat of legal action he mysteriously was able to pay off the existing loan on my trade-in as was negotiated at the time of the sale.
I was on pins and needles waiting for the title to arrive on the Class C RV I had purchased through him though. At that point, I had serious doubts that he had a clear title to that either. Fortunately, everything worked out in the end, but I never did business with him again and he has long since gone out of business.
Do Some Homework
One of the best things you can do to become knowledgeable when seriously shopping for your first or your next RV is to puchase a NADA Consumer Recreational Vehicle Appraisal Guide:
Being well armed with information will go a long way in raising your level of confidence when it comes time to negotiate with the sales staff.
Not all sales people are shysters, but it’s up to you to work the best possible deal when making an RV purchase.
More About RV Values & Scams
I’ve been involved in RVing for over 50 years — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs and motorhomes. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller… you’ve got a good idea of who I am. To date, I've shared my RV knowledge in over 300 articles here at The Fun Times Guide!