What to know before you buy an RV


A lime green Volkswagen bus driving around a curve on a country road.

Traveling in an RV opens up travel and camping adventures you can’t have any other way. Here’s what you need to know to select the right RV.


Are you dreaming of hitting the open road in your own RV? If you’re planning to join the millions of RV travelers camping all over the country, here are things to keep in mind when buying an RV and getting started in your travel adventure.

How will you use your RV?

Before you start shopping determine how you’ll use your RV. Start with these questions:

  • How will you use the RV? For weekend getaways or full-time living?
  • How many people will use the RV? Will you invite friends and family to join your travels?
  • Are you planning to boondock? (You’ll need solar panels or a generator and larger holding tanks.)
  • Where are you planning to go? How will length and maneuverability factor in to getting to these places and staying at them?
  • Will you use the RV in cold or warm climates, or both?

Become familiar with your options

If you’re new to RVing, you’ll want to become familiar with the different types of RVs. Here’s a handy online guide with pictures that explain the difference between Class Cs, camper vans, tiny trailers and everything in between.

Visit several dealers

One of the best ways to see what you like is by visiting dealers or RV shows. You’ll discover which features and floorplans work for you. Start a “wish list.” Later you can decide which features are “must have” and which are “nice to have.”

Check out RV clubs for the insider’s view

From Airstreams to Winnebagos and from full-time families to loners on wheels, there’s a club for every type of RV and RVer. Check out this online listing of clubs where you can learn some of the ins and outs from experienced RVers.

Get an inspection before you buy

Just like a traditional home, an RV home has maintenance needs. In addition to plumbing, electrical and HVAC, you’ll have upkeep for the tires and batteries, and perhaps slide rooms and an engine, too.

When buying a new or used RV, hiring an RV inspector can help avoid a lot of headaches and hassles. The inspector will test all the systems and point out potential problems. If the inspector notes an issue of concern, his finding can be the basis for negotiating a lower price. Plus, he will educate you about your new home on wheels and the maintenance you’ll want to do keep it operating hassle-free.

Be a smart buyer

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is what the name says—a suggestion. Plan on negotiating the purchase price, which could be 20% to 30% less than MSRP. And, treat an RV purchase just like any other major purchase: set a target range and stick to it.

Also, consider factors that will affect your budget, like insurance, campground rates and maintenance. If you choose a fifth wheel, travel trailer or fold-down, do you have a vehicle capable of towing it? Factor in all the costs of ownership before you buy.

Be a smart driver

Driving an RV or hauling one is not like driving a car. Consider RV driving lessons, check out RV driving videos on YouTube, and test your driving skills in an empty parking lot before hitting the open road.

Do you have RV loan questions? Call our knowledgeable loan professionals at 800-991-2221. If you’re ready to buy your new RV, apply here. We’re here to help make your travel dreams come true!

Federally insured by NCUA

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