8 Tips for buying a used RV

Last Updated on February 20, 2023 by Jess

Do you want to participate in the RV lifestyle, but don’t have the budget to buy new ones? Or do you just want to try out the lifestyle before you jump all in? Many RVers choose to buy used over new ones when just starting out.


When jumping into the RV shopping process, it is best to go along with a plan and be prepared. There are a lot of things to consider when buying an RV and especially when buying used. It can be difficult to know what to expect and how to prepare. Information from different dealers, websites and articles you read can draw you in all different directions.

We want to make the process easier for you by discussing how to prepare and determine what you need to know before you start shopping and then, later down the road, buy it.

From start to finish, we want to make sure you are fully prepared and ready to have a great experience buying your used RV for new adventures. In this blog we will discuss the following tips:

Tips for buying a used RV

  1. Set a budget
  2. Determine the functions and type of rv you want
  3. Research the RV’s fair value on RV listing sites and the online NADA Guide
  4. Research the dealer online in advance
  5. Create a list of questions to ask
  6. Inspection unit thorough
  7. Consider looking at dealers further aback to find the right rv used
  8. Be patient

Set a budget

The first thing you need to do before making a big purchase is set a budget that’s in your right place. Having a budget helps you reduce your options. Depending on what you spend it will determine the size, features and age of the RV you shop for.

Determine the functions and type of RV you want

a meal set up in the interior of a camper van

Before you start looking for where to buy your first used RV, first decide what kind of RV you want. From campers and travel trailers to pop-up campers and everything in between, there are many options.

If this is the first time you’re buying an RV, you should know what kind of RV gives you and your family the amenities and comfort they need while on the open road while still mounting your budget. Knowing the knowledge that this upfront keeps you focused on finding the right RV.

Would you rather have a tow trailer or a camper van? A tow unit, depending on the size, requires a large truck that has enough towing weight for the trailer. Other things to consider is how often you plan on using your RV and the size of your family. Do you want tailgate on weekends or boondock in the national forests? All these factors in finding the right RV. If you’re not sure what kind of travel lifestyle you prefer, we’ll have a handy quiz to help you figure out what kind of RV is right for you based on your travel preferences.

Next step is to collect a list of features that you want to include your RV. If you are planning on boondocking often, you might want to consider solar panels. If you want to tailgate with friends an outdoor kitchen and entertainment center might have a must. Do you have a big family? Then a bunk house is important to you.

Not sure where to start determining the right features? We have some resources to help. Download our worksheet to help you decide which RV features you need to have.

Fair market value research

Once you know the type of RV you are planning on purchasing, it’s important to research and figure out what is a fair price for that particular brand and model. You want to make sure that you are in the purchase process with the knowledge of what is a good deal or what is too expensive.

Browse large dealer websites for the price of unit new and use RV listing sites as well as the NADA guide values to put together what is a fair price used for that unit. NADA is a national value for dealers and banks, where RV listing sites will help you better understand what that RV is worth in your specific area.

Research Best Places to Buy

line-up of stainless steel with slide out

Finding a reputable dealer that you trust to buy your RV from is one of the important steps when buying a used RV. First, take a look at the service department. See if they have certified staff on the service team in case there are problems with your RV later on the road. You will want to make sure you trust that they will fix your RV if something would happen on the way.

Also check that the service department and service bays are clean and organized. This is important in getting your RV maintained that you know it’s in good hands and well handled. And last but not least, check out their online reputation. Make sure they answer reviews they get, good or bad, online. And that there are more than a few reviews to make a good decision.

And finally consider, is there more than one location? You won’t always be in the same place where you live when your camper breaks down. Knowing that there is a network of support to help in times of need can make your RV travel safer and safer. Often dealers offer support to customers first and with that extra safety net when you need it, is important.

We also use our Preowned Peace-of-Mind Promise program to thoroughly inspect our used motorhomes before offering them for sale. Use this program as a guide when you research on where you can buy your rv used.

Questions to ask when buying a used RV

Throughout the process, you need to ask as many questions as you need. You want to make sure you get the perfect unit at the best price. Asking for questions might be: did the device not damage water when it was brought? What items are attached to the device before it is put up for sale? And how long has it been in the parking lot? Also ask questions about the post-buying process for things like service.

Asking these kinds of questions will allow you to better understand the state of the RV before you buy and if the dealer offers service after the sale.

Thoroughly inspect the used rv

Most dealers have more than a 100-point inspection on used CAMPERS to make sure they check everything on the RV, inside and out. They want to make sure that devices, functions and lighting work and check for soft spots all over the RV.

But it’s also important to inspect the RV yourself, so you make sure everything is okay before you buy and need to fix different items. Check all cabinets and drawers for water stains or anything that doesn’t look normal and check for weak spots in the ceiling, walls and floors as this can show signs of costly to repair water damage.

Check all the windows and doors to make sure they can still open and there is nothing that concerns you as broken seals. Also make sure you have the general state of the RV to see how much more wear and tear can take on and if it will last as long as you plan on owning it.

Download this handy checklist to take with you when inspecting a used RV you are interested in and don’t miss anything.

Consider shopping at dealers further aground

If you know exactly what you want and have trouble finding it locally, it might be worth checking out dealers who are further afield. You might find your perfect RV a few hours away that you don’t want to miss. And make it a fun trip. Because used motorhomes are not as available as new, you sometimes have to drive further away than expected.

Be patient

a fifth wheel trailer set up on a campsite

Finally, it is important to just be patient throughout the process. It can be overwhelming at times and it may seem like the right RV will never come along. But it’s important to practice patience and research. Owning an RV is a life-changing event.  And once you have a large RV that fits your lifestyle and family needs, the time it took to find that perfect will be worth it.

Buying a used RV can be a less stressful process if you know what you want and know the right questions to ask. At Campers Inn RV, we have enough resources to help. Use our How-to Buy a Pre-Owned-RV Guide to get step-by-step help in the process and more in-depth information before you begin your journey.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top