Should I buy a new or used RV ?

So you have decided on buying an RV. It is all very exciting.

Whether it is buying an RV for the first time or looking to upgrade or buy are different class, you need to decide whether to  go with a new or used RV.

Is it better to go with a new or used RV? Is one option better than the other?

The most convincing reason to purchase a used RV rather than a brand new one is depreciation. RVs typically lose their value in the first 3 years by 40%. Buying a “near new” RV still obtain modern functionality and features at a reduced cost. There is likely still to be warranty and many years of useful life remaining.

Now I have answered the main question, we’ll discuss in detail the pros and cons of buying, and considerations when choosing to purchase a new or used RV.

The upside of buying a new RV

The upside of buying a new RV is no different to buying a new car. You know exactly what you are going to get.

This provides you certainty. No one else has ever owned it, no hidden surprises.

There is a comfort knowing that if there are problems with your new RV you will be covered by a warranty.

You will also receive free post-purchase servicing.

A new warranty provides peace of mind and could save you thousands of dollars if a significant mechanical problem occurred.

Accompanied by the brand new vehicle smell, there is a great sense of pride and satisfaction driving a brand spanking new vehicle of the showroom floor.

Another advantage of buying an RV is the freedom of being able to choose your paint and color scheme, options, and upgrades.

Low-interest rates provide a solid case for purchasing a new RV.

Choosing to finance the price of a new RV can be done then and there at the dealership and ensures your capital isn’t tied up with a purchase of an RV.

The downside of buying a new RV

There is one main issue with buying a new RV, and it is depreciation.

The value hit of depreciation on a new RV from the showroom floor is substantial.

In the first 2-3 years, a new RV will lose up to 40% of its original value.

This impact deters many people from buying a new RV.

A basic example of depreciation, if you were to take an RV at $100k purchase price its value would be $60k after two or three years.

A loss of $40k over 2-3 years.

Obviously, the longer you own the RV, the less impact depreciation will have.

If you would like to understand more about RV and depreciation check out another post on this item. I spent many hours reviewing the impact of depreciation on RVs.

RV Depreciation, RV’s depreciated up to 40% in the first two years.

The upside of buying a used RV

Buying a used RV will save you a lot of money upfront.

Sellers are generally more open to bargaining for a car in order to move it on.

Private sellers of RVs are less likely to be pushy and not use pushy sales tactics than the typical salesperson.

Buying an RV which is only a year or so old, might have the same functionality and features than the current model RV.

The difference is significantly reduced cost than buying brand new.

Downside buying a used RV

This biggest downside to buying a used RV is that you cannot guarantee its history.

Performing a visual inspection and reviewing log books and service history you can get a good idea of how well the RV has been looked after.

If you purchase an RV whose warranty has expired you will fork out money for repairs and maintenance.

If you are the lastest features and functionality, buying a used RV might not be for you.

Latest RVs will have the last safety features, technology such as airbags and anti-lock breaks.

Depending on the age of the RV, the interior decor and look might become dated and aged.

Even though it’s cosmetic it is something worth considering.

There is a chance you buy a lemon.  Unless the manufacturer’s warranty still has some time left on it you could be having to spend thousands of your hard-earned month or repairs.

This is not only financially exhausting but also mentally draining.

Ongoing costs may well be more expensive since you’re servicing an older RV with more tired parts.

You may also need to shop around and find a trustworthy mechanic rather than have a dealership sort your servicing for you.

I have written another article on RV maintenance costs, where we explore the cost of ownership over time.

So what should I buy? New or used RV?

Buying an RV does provide a “psychological” hit when driving a brand new sparkling RV off the showroom floor.

Unfortunately, this hit wears off.

Looking past the material joy of buying a brand new RV, you can get almost everything a new RV offers at a fraction of the cost by buying used.

Consider buying an RV that is 18-24 months old. It has already lost 30-40% of its original value.

But it will have 2-3 years warranty remaining on its new RV warranty.

Its features, functionality will still be modern, relevant, and in “new”, good condition.

If looked after, the interiors will still look fresh and modern, with no reliability issues with the mechanics given its youthful age.

Buying an RV after the first 18-24 months is considered the best time to buy a new RV.

This is considered the “sweet spot”. For savvy shopping, there will be many “useful” years remaining. Keeping in mind the lifespan of an RV is 14 years.

Final Thoughts

If you are flushed with cash the decision to purchase an RV is an easy one.

If you more conscious about how to spend your money buying an RV requires more thought. 

The best financial option is to purchase a “near new” RV after it has lost between 30-40% of the original purchase value. 

Further Information

Below are some other popular resources on RVs 

How much does Caravan (Travel Trailer) Depreciate? with examples and charts

Everything you need to know about Pop-up Campers

Travel trailer (caravan) running costs



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