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Your First RV

July 16, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

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RV Buying Advice with Plenty of Options

You’ve shopped around, investigated and asked questions. Now you’re ready to plop down a big chunk of change on your first RV. But before you do, make a list of features with two columns: ones that you want and ones that you need. Everyone has a budget, and not everyone keeps their RV forever. It’s possible that you can get the features you need along with some of the ones you want in a more cost effective package by purchasing a used RV.

Feeling Confident Behind the Wheel

Don’t be afraid to get behind the wheel of the mid- to large-sized RVs. Driving one is easier than many people realize. The rear-view cameras that some models are equipped with will give you confidence when backing up. So don’t assume that you won’t be able to handle the RV you really want until you take it out for a test drive. Many first-time buyers choose a model that’s too small for their needs as a result of this fear of making wide turns and parking. They usually find out that they’ve made the wrong move on their very first trip.

There is another side to this coin, of course. Those of you who plan on navigating hairpin turns on steep mountain roads are going to want to think long and hard about a great big RV. Also consider the sports car that may be stuck trying to pass for 15 miles. One solution is the slide-outs available on many makes and models. Slide-outs extend indoor living space after you’ve parked for the night. The same space is compressed back in for driving.

From great big RVs with satellite TV, GPS and heated driver seats to the bare basics, you have several options for making one your own:
  • Renting or Leasing
  • Buying Used
  • Buying New

The Benefits & Drawbacks of RV Renting or Leasing

It’s a very good idea to rent or lease an RV before making the big money commitment to actually buy one. Because using one the way you intend to use a purchased RV is the ideal way to see if it meets your specific needs. There are a few risks, such as returning the vehicle in good condition with only minor wear. A ripped couch or dented side panel will cost you extra. And driving beyond pre-set mileage limits can add a few cents for every mile – which can end up being very expensive if you’re on a long road trip.

Leasing can be an attractive option for RV goers who want low monthly payments and the opportunity to try out new vehicles every few years. It’s also a great deal for families who are expecting additions or have older children going off to college. You should also consider leasing if you started out staying at campgrounds and are leaning toward exploring more challenging environments for future getaways.  

Leasing offers RV goers all the benefits of a manufacturer warranty along with minimal service expenses. You may find the mileage and modification restrictions somewhat limiting, and you won’t own the vehicle outright after the lease is up. In fact, you could end up being charged more if you have damaged or significantly worn certain aspects of the vehicle during your lease period. Check into all the details before signing any lease agreement.

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