When it’s time to buy a new RV, nothing is scarier than spending too much or buying a lemon from a dealer. You may worry and endure sleepless nights. You could spend hours researching rigs, brands, and floorplans. But when it comes down to it, you have to make the best decision you can.
To help you make the most informed decision, let’s look at a few things an RV salesman isn’t going to tell you — but probably should.
How Can You Buy An RV Without Getting Ripped Off?
The best way to buy an RV is to ask for feedback from other RVers, do your research, and hire an RV inspector before purchasing.
Seek Advice From Experienced RVers
The more you talk to people who have traveled for years, the better understanding you’ll have about RVing in general and what to look for in your rig.
Talking with other RVers helps a lot during this process. Always remember that what is best for one family may not be best for you. So don’t rely entirely on advice from others. Do your research about quality, brands, and construction. View walk-in models and examine how the layout will work for you.
Know What You Need (And What You Don’t)
You always want to have must-haves and a floorplan in mind. This will help narrow down your choices to a manageable list.
Since there are so many options, it’s easy to be led astray by a salesman trying to sell you something that won’t fit your lifestyle. Make a list of things you need and a list of things you’d like to have, and stick to it.
Hire An RV Inspector
Finally, you should hire an RV inspector before taking your new RV home. It’s well worth the cost to have a professional examine your rig.
RV inspectors find things an untrained eye won’t see. If they come back with 200 points on a checklist, you can decide the importance of each of those items.
Have the dealership make the fixes or walk away from the purchase. An RV inspector will bring a tremendous amount of peace of mind when you finally take a new RV home.
If we’re being brutally honest, these are the 5 worst RV brands.
What Should You Not Say to An RV Salesman?
Don’t ever tell a salesman that you’re new to the RV life. This is an immediate flag that signals you might be able to be taken advantage of by the dealership.
Another way you can give a salesman ammunition is to say you’re not sure about what you want or what you need. This is why you do your research ahead of time.
Instead, show the salesman your must-have list and tell him not to offer you anything that doesn’t meet the criteria. Otherwise, he’ll show you a stunning Newmar Class A motorhome when all you need is a Coleman Light travel trailer.
You also don’t want to tell them how you’ll pay for the RV. Don’t tell a salesperson that you’re going to be paying all cash, that you’re going to trade in your old RV, or that you’re going to use their financing. They can structure a deal that might appear suitable to you but ends up serving them in the end.
For example, a salesperson can offer you more for your trade-in to make it sound like you’re getting more than any other sales associate has provided but then fix the numbers, so you’re paying more for the new RV.
When you walk into a rig, don’t talk about how amazing it is or say things like “I love it!” or “It’s perfect!” The salesman won’t work as hard to sell it to you if they see you already want it.
Ask questions and show concern about certain things. This is where doing your research and knowing what kinds of questions to ask comes in handy.
5 Things An RV Salesman Will Never Tell You
Just as there are things you shouldn’t say to a salesman to get the best deal, there are things a salesman knows not to say to get you to pay the most for your new RV.
Let’s look at what an RV salesman will never tell you.
1. You Should Always Negotiate
Dealers show the MSRP only because it makes them look good with a giant red strike-through that price. No one pays MSRP, so don’t get caught up in seeing that price slashed.
A dealership’s fee on the rig is not what you want to pay. Always negotiate. As mentioned earlier, tell each salesman that you’re shopping around for the best price.
But don’t stop at the overall price. Negotiate warranties and administration fees, too. These pile up and increase your payment substantially if you’re not careful.
Finally, always use your leverage to get as many features and upgrades as possible. For example, you can tell them you want the backup camera installed, the washer and dryer, and the booth dinette replaced with a free-standing dinette.
If there are items not included that you have on your must-have list, you should tell them those are deal-breakers if the salesperson can’t include them in the price.
2. You Should Get An Unaffiliated RV Inspection
It’s almost essential to hire an RV inspector to spend a few hours combing through the RV you want to purchase. A salesman will never tell you this because when the inspector comes back to you with a long list of things that need to be fixed, you can give that list to the dealership and request the repairs or walk away from the purchase.
RV inspectors are trained professionals. Pay the $300-400 upfront to save thousands in the end.
3. There’s a Formula for When to Buy An RV for the Best Price
If you’re buying a used RV, the best time to buy is right before winter. RVers looking to sell don’t want to spend the time and money winterizing their rigs. You’ll be able to get a better deal from a private party or dealership in October than in August because they want to get the rig out of their driveway or off their lot before winter.
When buying new, however, there are better times during the year to buy an RV. The end of the camping season and right before manufacturers release new models are the best times to buy.
Dealerships want to sell the current year models to make room for the incoming models. Being patient and making strategic plans to purchase a new RV later in the year will save you money.
There are also better locations to buy a new RV. The price you pay for a 2023 Grand Design Solitude in Georgia will not be the same for the same RV in Texas.
Different states have varying taxes and fees, so it’s crucial to shop around the country. For example, Montana has 0% general sales tax, 0% county sales tax, and 0% city sales tax. If you can travel, it might save you thousands.
4. Varying Brands Use the Same Products
This may come as a shock to you, but after doing your research, you may find that similar materials are on all types of RVs. Whether it’s an entry-level travel trailer at $30,000 or a mid-level fifth wheel at $55,000, you can find similar products throughout the units. Just because one RV comes with a higher price tag doesn’t mean it contains higher-grade materials.
The use of similar products and materials is not just in the RV industry. Many brands import their materials from the same places.
They also use the same RV accessories like Furrion microwaves and Wineguard antennas. However, some brands are more likely to have quality construction and craftsmanship. If this is important to you, do your research to narrow your search.
About 80% of all American-made RVs are made in the same place.
5. RVing Is Not for Everyone
An RV salesman will never tell you that RVing isn’t for everyone. He’ll let you know that everyone should try RVing.
But in reality, maintaining an RV is hard work. Making repairs is costly. Living in a small space, even for a weekend, is challenging. If you’re never camped in an RV before, you probably want to start on the lower end so you don’t spend lots of money on something that might not pan out for your family.
RVs depreciate immediately, just like vehicles. As soon as you take that new RV off of the lot, you’ve lost money. Ensure the RV lifestyle is for you before committing to making a new purchase.
How Much Can You Talk Down An RV?
If you don’t shop around to get the best quote, you’ll pay too much. Tell the salespeople you’re going to visit different dealerships to find the best price. This gives you some leverage when negotiating because they want you to purchase from their dealership and not the one down the road.
Although negotiating varies from place to place, it’s generally a good idea to lower the final price of a new RV by 25-35%. If they’re only budging 10%, you’ll find a better deal elsewhere.
Is An RV a Good Investment?
RVs depreciate as soon as you take them off of the lot. An RV is not like a house that appreciates over time.
So is an RV a good investment? No, it’s not. But is it worth it? For many people, absolutely.
Even though they know they aren’t going to get their money back when they resell, RVers love the comfort of camping in an RV. Travelers see the country on months-long adventures or enjoy escaping for a weekend to a local campground.
The memories you can make with an RV and the outdoor recreation you can enjoy are worth the hours spent doing research, negotiating, and driving away with your new RV.
Avoid getting ripped off by knowing what to expect when you walk onto a dealer’s lot. Don’t talk about how you’re going to pay. Check your enthusiasm when you know you have the right one. Shop around to find the best deal and hire a private RV inspector. These things will save you thousands upfront and possibly thousands more in the long run.
Have you shopped for a new RV before? What are some other things an RV salesperson will never tell potential buyers?
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