What to Know Before Buying an RV

What to Know Before Buying an RV

RVs come in many shapes and sizes, so how do you ever decide? Start by answering the following three questions.

What type of RV is best for me?

There are three main types: motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheels.

  • Motorhomes have their own engine and transmission, so you don't need an additional vehicle to pull them.
  • Travel trailers have to be pulled behind a vehicle. Before purchasing, make sure your vehicle can tow the trailer you're considering.
  • Fifth wheels are also towed, but you must have a truck to pull a fifth wheel.

What features are important?

Consider the following when making your purchase decision:

  • Space and features: How will you use the RV? Do you want it mostly for shorter trips, or do you intend to use it for long-term living? Your answers can help you determine how much space and what features you definitely want on the road, and what you can compromise for quick trips.
  • Maintenance: The different RV types may have different maintenance needs. For example, motorhomes will require regular engine checks. Larger RVs may take longer to clean, and RVs with appliances may need additional service.
  • Storage: Think about how you'll store the RV you want to purchase. Check city ordinances to find out if there are any parking or storage restrictions in your neighborhood. You may need to pay for offsite storage.
  • Depreciation: Because motorhomes have an odometer, mileage may influence their value, while the style and condition of travel trailers or fifth wheels will greater influence their value.

What safety features should I look for when buying an RV?

While much of RV safety has to do with how you behave in the vehicle, safety musts include a surge protector, a fire extinguisher, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and locks on windows and doors. (Once you've made your purchase, you'll also want to store emergency road flares, orange cones or reflective safety triangles in case of a roadside emergency.)


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