What kind of RV is best for your adventures?
We are not experts in RVing but having just purchased a 5th wheel and F250 diesel truck we thought we would share a few thoughts on buying an RV. Some of the pitfalls are buying a used RV that has major issues such as water damage/dry rot or a motorhome with an engine or transmission problems.
Don’t fall in love with the floorplan and interior and lose sight of the whole package.
5th wheel interior
Things to think about before you buy a Recreational Vehicle (RV)
First, you have to determine how are you going to use the RV and what you want from it:
- Are you going to travel full time and will this be your permanent home?
- Are you looking for something to head south and Snowbird with in the winter – maybe to Arizona or Florida?
- Do you want something for weekend and short vacation camping trips?
- Do you have a boat or dirt bike that you want to tow behind the RV?
- Do you just want a tent on wheels?
- Are going to use it on fishing and hunting trips?
- Are you tailgaters and want something for the game?
After determining its use then look at the different types
Each has its advantages and disadvantages so determine which will meet your needs:
- Class A – motorhome
- Class B – camper van
- Class C – either built on a truck or van chassis with a cab-over
- Pickup truck camper
- Travel Trailer/Pop-up/Toyhauler
- 5th Wheel – hitches in a truck bed like a semi truck
When you are thinking about the different types
Here are some things to take into consideration:
- Class A, B, C and truck camper are stand alone vehicles. Unless you can afford the motorhome in the picture above, this restricts you when using the RV for sightseeing, running errands, or launching your boat. An option is to have a tow vehicle if you aren’t already towing a boat or trailer. This may be an additional cost if you don’t already have an existing vehicle to tow. Most vehicles cannot be flat towed (all four wheels on the ground) without some type of modification.
- Travel trailers require a vehicle capable of towing the additional weight. This is an area where some people get into trouble: they think they can tow with their existing vehicle but then find that the trailer is too heavy.
- How comfortable will you be towing a trailer and backing up or driving a motorhome the size of a school bus?
- If you are considering a motorhome or trailer, think about renting one before you purchase. We rented a 17’ Ultra Light trailer and found our Toyota 4Runner V6, while rated for the trailer weight, was underpowered and we would have worn out the vehicle towing. Plus, we found the trailer too small for our planned adventures.
- 5th Wheels requires a pickup truck to tow. Again, you need to pay close attention to the trailer weight and the truck’s towing capacity. Most large 5th wheels require at least a ¾ ton (F250/2500) truck with a diesel and lots of torque.
- When you are window shopping, try out the RV. We recently heard of a guy who purchased an RV and on his very first camping trip found he didn’t fit in the shower – they are not all made equal. He traded it in after only 2 weeks! You may laugh at some of these, but you don’t want an RV that doesn’t fit:
- Sit on the toilet – are your knees hitting the door or wall?
- Stand in the shower – do you fit?
- Lay on the bed – is it long enough?
- When inside, do you feel cramped?
- With the sleeping arrangements, will your family fit?
Have a used RV inspected prior to purchase
If you are going to purchase a used RV we HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you first have it inspected by an NRVIA Certified RV Inspector. This is just like a home inspection. The inspector will check everything prior to purchase and provide a detailed report. Remember:
- The number ONE issue with used RVs is WATER DAMAGE from leaks.
- If you are purchasing a Class A, B, or C have the engine and transmission checked by your mechanic.
- Check the date code on the tires. This can be a huge additional cost. While they may look new, the tires may be years old and are a blowout waiting to happen. The lifespan of RV tires is generally 3-5 years as they break down inside over time.
If you have comments or additional recommendations, please leave them in the comments section.