Home ยป Ten Things You Must Know Before Buying a Used RV

After owning my first RV for about eight months, I have compiled a good list of things to know before buying a used RV.

(For my non-RVing readers, feel free to skip this post.)

Buying a used RV

Before buying a used RV, attend a lot of RV shows and visit dealerships. See all of the options available and decide what you want or need.

While the title says “Ten Things”, there are likely many more than ten things you should know before buying a used RV. Below, I’ve included about 15 things to check before buying a used RV or motorhome.

First, it was a LOT easier to get one than I thought. The folks at See Grins RV were great with helping me choose a motorhome, and with financing. But before you start to think this is a commercial, know that my mention of See Grins is unsolicited and not compensated. (In fact, they don’t even know I’m posting this.)

These tips, many from kind fellow RV owners, were immensely helpful to me when buying my first RV. Some I have come to discover on my own.

Here are some things to look for:

1. Check all electrical systems under power of the house battery.

2. Then check all systems hooked in to an external power source (not using the battery).

3. Do the same for the water – make sure everything runs when plugged in.

4. Fill all tanks (water, propane) and check for leaks.

5. Check the A/C and heater on the dash and in the house/cabin.

6. Make sure all roof vent covers are included, and aren’t brittle.

7. When was the oil last changed? Should be within manufacturer’s recommendations or after a few months.

8. When was the roof last sealed? Should be within a year.

9. Check the batteries. Do they look like they’re old? Not holding a charge anymore?

10. Check the tires, just like you would on a car. Is the wear even? Don’t forget to check the inside dualies. Also, most manufacturers recommend getting new tires every six or so years – no matter how few miles are on the tires.

11. Class A’s are more desirable and will have a slightly better resale value according to my friend who sold RVs for 20 years.

12. Unless you have a large family, don’t buy more than 30′ in length. This has little to do with the (mostly inaccurate) rumor about getting into any state parks, and more to do with cost-per-mile and ease of parking. And, like the Class A, a motorhome 30′ and under tends to be more desirable.

13. NADAguides.com is the equivalent of Kelley Blue Book when it comes to RVs. Get the price before you negotiate.

14. Check the VIN for accidents, etc., through your local DMV or similar agency or service.

15. Check NHTSA.gov for recalls on the model. If there are any – get the VIN, and call the manufacturer to see if there are any open recalls (recalls that have not been addressed). Don’t buy it from a dealer until they’ve fixed them.

I hope this helps. Feel free to add any of your tips in the comments.

Now that you’ve got your RV, you’re probably considering whether to purchase a tow vehicle. My article, What you need to know when deciding to tow a vehicle behind your RV, may help you decide.

Happy RVing!

To RV or Not To RV, that is the question.

To RV or Not To RV, that is the question.



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Ten Things You Must Know Before Buying a Used RV — 16 Comments

    • I’m learning slowly, and through baptism by fire. I research stuff a lot before I do it, especially cars, etc. But there’s no way to learn everything. Sometimes you just have to do it.

  1. Good list to start with. If I may, let me amplify on points 9 & 10.

    Batteries can cost upwards of $100 each so it is important to be sure what you are buying is good. The only way to accurately check each battery individually is to disconnect it from the bank, give it a good charge with a portable charger, and then do a resistive load test.

    Depending to tier size you’re going to pay somewhere north of $200 each with some of the larger Class A’s maybe busting the $500 mark. In the larger, heavier sizes tire shops will take your old tires in trade only if the cores are under 7 years old regardless of how good they look. All tires have a date code. You should learn where it is printed on the sidewall and how to read it. A 6-year-old tire with great tread may be worth less than a 3-year-old at 50%.
    Mule Breath’s last post ..Sunday Funnies

    • Excellent info! I should have included the tire-date details.

      This is from Tire Tech Info :

      Tires Manufactured Since 2000

      Since 2000, the week and year the tire was produced has been provided by the last four digits of the Tire Identification Number with the 2 digits being used to identify the week immediately preceding the 2 digits used to identify the year.

      Example of a tire manufactured since 2000 with the current Tire Identification Number format:…” (see their website for more detail and pictures)

    • I can’t take all the credit as much of this came from fellow-RVers before I bought mine. There are a few items I’ve since learned on my own. I hope it helps you as much as it did me! Happy RVing!

  2. I remember 10 months of RV travel in Europe in the mid 90s. Every time you crossed a border you had to re rig you propane / butane. There was not standardized bottle or connection for all countries. New country. New system. New connection. New bottle. New Deposit.

    Bob the Water Cat’s last post ..Does Not Play Well With Others

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  9. I would love to buy a used RV. It seems like it would be a lot of fun to take on vacations with the family. So, I appreciate the list you have here for things to check before buying. I wouldn’t have ever thought to fill all water and propane tanks to check for leaks.