RV Buying Guide
Written by Remar Sutton
A home on wheels! Who needs hotels? Who needs restaurants? An RV—whether it's a luxury six-wheeled motorhome powered by a diesel engine or a two-wheeled tow-along attached to the back of your VW Beetle—can be a magic carpet for you and your family. What's to worry about?
Well, actually, you have lots to worry about if you haven't done your homework before you become the owner of a recreational vehicle, particularly if you're buying a self-powered model or any used model, self-powered or not. And there are some key questions you should answer before you buy even a glorified tent for two.
Whether you are shopping for new or used, big or little, the key to owner satisfaction is getting the most for your money in the areas of safety, quality and reliability. Because there are relatively few safety and construction guidelines in place specifically for RVs, doing your homework is crucially important.
Well, you ask, can't the sellers tell me what I need to know? The sellers can tell you the basics, and can rattle off their sales spiels effortlessly. But in the real world, sellers of RVs are usually no more forthright than sellers of automobiles. For instance, few if any RV sellers are going to tell you if their models have problems with design, safety or maintenance. In fact, in the free marketplace, that's not their job—making money is. So helping you find out the information you need to make wise decisions is the StraightTalk RV Guide's goal.
Oh, yes, what's the major reason buying a RV smart is harder than buying a car smart? RVs can eat money. This can be true even if you're buying a used, small tow-behind pop-up trailer for $2,000. Why? Repairs on any RV can be substantial. Replacing the axle on that tiny trailer could cost you more than a thousand.
In addition to purchase price, consider these other costs:
- What about "use" costs? (If you're buying a motorhome, gas and oil expenses alone can wreck a budget, even if it's a small motorhome.)
- What about insurance? (The insurance cost climbs dramatically as the size grows, and generally will cost you more than a comparably priced car.)
- Maintenance? (RVs generally require much more maintenance than cars, and larger motor homes can require very specialized mechanics who generally cost more than car mechanics.)
- Storage? (Some neighborhoods won't let you store your RV in your backyard—and paid storage can be expensive.)
- Towing? If you are buying a travel trailer, fifth-wheel trailer, or even a pop-up camper, can your current vehicle do the job? Or will you need a new vehicle adequate to the job?
So many ways to get in trouble financially—and all you wanted to do was have some fun with the family!
That's why you wisely are doing your homework. And that's why you're reading the StraightTalk RV Guide! Our guide will help you answer key questions as it saves you thousands and thousands of dollars. We then give you links to trustworthy resources to teach you even more. Use these tools wisely, and exploring the byways of the world will be the great escape you've always dreamed it would be.
So, let's make some decisions!
- Developing a budget
- What type and size RV is right for your recreation and travel goals?
- Should you buy new or used?
- How do you know if the RV you're looking at is safe and reliable or a hazard to your health?
- How do you negotiate the best RV financing? (Larger RV loans vary literally tens of thousands of dollars, depending upon the lender.)
- How do you negotiate the best price for any RV? (A warning: RVs don't really have federally mandated "sticker" prices, and unnecessary dealer "add-ons" can add up to thousands in extra charges, if you're not careful.)
- Obtaining RV Registration and Insurance
- Safe driving
- So, where are you going? Planning trips.
- Getting good service and routine maintenance at a good price.
Prepared for Corning Credit Union by Remar Sutton & Associates, April 2003. Reviewed and updated May 2007. All rights reserved.
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RV Buying Guide
Calculate Available Cash
Your Available Cash is the maximum amount you have to spend on a RV. This calculator enables you to determine 1) the amount of cash a RV loan will yield and 2) the total Available Cash from all sources, including the loan, you have to purchase a RV.
If the estimated amount of Available Cash is too little for the RV you would like to purchase, you have several options: A higher monthly payment and/or a longer loan term will typically yield higher initial Loan Cash, thus increasing your Available Cash. You may also wish to consider an alternative RV that better fit your budget.
*Check the current interest rate for the loan term.
This calculator is solely for informational purposes. It gives you a reasonably accurate estimate of your Available Cash. Results for your actual loan will vary based on your final rate and loan amount.