Should you buy a new RV, or one that’s slightly used?

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By Al Pearce
Certified RV Inspector

Is a new or slightly used RV on your list this year to purchase?

As kids, our wish list for Christmas was the newest toy or maybe a new bike. As adults, the dollar value of items on our wish list have grown drastically.

Maybe it is a new car, a new house or a new RV on this year’s wish list. It is something maybe you saved for and it is now time to buy that new RV.

If a new or slightly used RV ends up on your wish list, did you know that the value of that new RV can drop as much as 30% as you drive off the lot. Oh, I know that is looks and smells new, but the value will still drop quickly.

A slightly used RV has had all the warranty issues resolved and you can purchase it for 30% or more off the list price. So is a slightly used purchase better than purchasing new?

Are there issues with brand new RVs?

Absolutely. With the RV industry setting sales records as never seen before, the RVs being manufactured today are put together faster in order to meet demand, so there are bound to be issues with a brand-new RV. We have heard of stories where new RV owners have not been able to use their RV as it has been at the RV dealer for months waiting to be repaired.

So, there is nothing wrong with a two-year-old RV or one that is older.

As we perform RV inspections for buyers, we hear it all the time from sellers, “Well, this RV is only two years old and there is nothing wrong with it, so why is the buyer getting an inspection?”

Our comment is the buyer is just looking to protect their investment, that is all.

As RV inspectors, we want that to be the case where nothing is wrong with a RV we inspect. We don’t go looking for something wrong while doing an RV inspection. We only report any issues we find when we test all the systems, inspect the roof, check the born date on tires, etc.

We want the buyer to buy and the seller to sell.

Now back to buying a new RV. We have all seen on social media where someone is complaining that the new RV they bought has been in the shop for 2 or more months getting warranty work done on items that were discovered during the pre-delivery inspection (PDI).

The good news that it is not costing the buyer anything to have those items repaired. But, the bad news is they cannot use their new RV until the repairs are completed.

So, should you  buy a new or slightly used RV?

If a prospective buyer asks me if they should buy a new or a slightly used RV, I ask them a question to help clarify my answer. Are you looking to begin “full-time” RVing right after purchasing that new RV? If so, I would suggest buying a slight used two- to three-year-old RV instead of a new one.

If you answer the question indicating you are months away from going full time or only plan on using the new RV in the spring, months from now, then maybe purchasing a brand RV is the answer for you. This will give the dealer enough time to correct any issues that was discovered during the PDI.

Either way, if you are considering purchasing new or slightly used RV, we hope you’ll get an RV inspection before you buy. You will know about any issues the RV has and will be able to make an educated decision on whether to buy it or not.


Al Pearce is a Level 2 certified RV inspector with the National RV Inspectors Association, and is the owner of A & L RV Inspection. He is based in Florida, but travels around the United States performing RV inspections. For more information, you can visit his website at, email or call 678.764.4450.

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Leave a Comment

  • John Gaver, RV Inspector Pro says:

    As I tell people all the time, an RV, be it a small travel trailer or a million dollar bus, will likely be the buyer’s second largest purchase in his life, right behind the price of his home. You have your home inspected, before you sign on the line. You should have your RV inspected too… even if it’s new.

    As a Level 2 inspector, I can assure you that new coaches will have problems, too. That’s “will”, not “might”. In fact, the highest voltage that I have ever personally recorded on any RV, was on a brand new motorhome. I once found a recalled fire extinguisher on a new coach.

    So don’t think that new coaches won’t have problems. They just have different problems. But as Al stated above, the big problems that could take weeks or months in the shop, to resolve, will probably come in the first year or so.

    OTOH, with a new coach, you get to choose the floor plan, colors, and amenities. With a used coach, you may have to settle for someone else’s choices. But either way, a professional inspection will probably reduce the time you have to spend having repairs made, within the first year of your ownership.

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