What to Consider When You Buy a Used RV

There are many reasons to choose to buy used RV trailers over new. They’re less expensive, there’s less depreciation over time and upgrades may already be done. However, buying a used RV can be risky. You’ll need to do a careful inspection and think about what you want before you buy to ensure this “new to you” RV is a good investment that you can camp in for years to come.

Find Out What You Can Afford

The first step to buying a new or used camper is figuring out what you can afford. Whether you’re paying in cash or choosing to finance, your budget will help narrow down your search. Deciding what you can spend is an essential first step. If you’re not sure where to start, try searching online to get an idea of what used RV trailers that would work for you are selling for.

Wide angle view at diverse group of young people enjoying picnic outdoors while camping with trailer.

Determine the Features and Specs You Want

Once you know what you can afford, you need to determine what features and specs you want and need. Think about the number of people that will be camping with you, which reflects how many people the RV should sleep. Research different brands and models. If you find an RV you’re interested in, you should check online if that model or year had any factory issues or recalls. For example, some trailer models from a certain year might have notoriously leaky roofs.

Next, think about the size and weight you want. Smaller campers are best for off-roading, and toy haulers are great if you want to bring equipment along on your camping trips. Find out how much weight the tow vehicle you plan to use can handle. There are tons of things to think about when you are buying a new RV.

Of course, you should be reasonable when you’re determining these specs. Don’t expect to find a used fifth wheel from last year at the cost of a popup trailer!

Research Comparable RVs for Sale

The next step is to research RVs that are similar to the one you’re looking for or the one you’re interested in purchasing. You can start by searching for that RV online or on a classifieds site like RVUSA or RV Trader. These websites will show you RVs for sale all over the US and what they cost.

You can also search the make, model and year of the RV you want on NADA Guides for RVs. NADA will give you an estimate of that RV’s fair market value. These prices are often used by dealerships and lenders to determine an RV’s value. Keep in mind, this is a basic estimated value. Aspects of the RV like the condition impact the value.

Rv trailer, chairs and picnic table around a glowing campfire, wilderness site, night scene. Outdoors, camping, adventure and togetherness concepts.

Check the RV History

This step isn’t as important as the others, but is definitely a good idea. For about $25 you can buy a vehicle history report from the RV Chex website. You have to enter the RV’s VIN (vehicle identification number) to get the report. These reports may include information on whether the RV has ever been damaged, rebuilt or stolen. It will also provide information about manufacturer specifications and any recall notices.

Ask Questions!

Don’t be afraid to ask the current owner or the dealership plenty of questions about the used RV trailers you’re interested in. Ask about the condition, history, title, warranties, repairs and maintenance records. Ask why the RV was sold to the dealership, or why the current owner is selling it. If you buy from a dealership, it’s a good idea to ask about the post-buying process and RV service going forward.

Family photo of mature caucasian couple playing with their retriever in the caravan doorway

Take Your Time

Used RV trailers are different from new in that there’s often only one of each available. If you miss out on a new RV, you can order another one from the manufacturer. You can also customize new RVs from many manufacturers to fit your tastes. This isn’t the case with used RV trailers. When you choose to shop used, you’re limited to only what is on the market at the moment.

Often times, you can search used RVs from dealerships and individual sellers for weeks and not find anything that fits your wants and needs. This is where time and patience come into play. Rather than purchasing something you aren’t completely sure about, take the time to watch what comes up for sale. Wait for the RV that will truly make you happy. It’s the only one that’s worth it!

When shopping for used RV trailers, you should find a dealership you can trust. Scenic is one of the best used RV dealers in the Wisconsin Dells. We have tons of used and new towable RVs on the lot! We also accept trade-ins when you’re ready to upgrade your RV.

Ready to shop used RVs?

Browse our full used RV inventory online. You can filter your search to see only the units you’re interested in and let us know when you’re ready to come take a tour. Don’t see what you want today? Check back later! Our new and used RV inventory is always changing.