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Never buy an RV at RV shows: Instead follow these steps | RV Buying Tips

/April 15, 2022

1] Assess your intended RV lifestyle:

Many people get excited by life on the road.They see themselves at the pinnacle of the RV life; sitting in their 40 + ft long motor coach, sipping a martini, overlooking the mountain lake with cloudless blue sky overhead.  But your life style goals may or may not fit a big rig.  Just remember, the bigger the coach the longer you will stay out on the road, or will feel that you should to justify such a large, often financed rig.


The smaller the coach or trailer, the more likely you are to take shorter weekend or 1-2 week trips. Much longer in a small coach can lead to divorce. Our current coach is one foot longer than a divorce.


2] Never purchase your RV at an RV show:

This is like going to the grocery store when you are hungry.  You may over purchase or pay much more than you should.  We love to go tothe shows, see all the new products, and gadgets, etc., but we discipline our selves to not purchase at the show no matter how good the deal looks, or the incentives, or the overzealous sales person’s promise that this deal will never come around again.  The other ploy they use is that, “The manufacturers reps are here so they can sweeten the deal” but only if you buy today.  This may be true, but since RV stickers prices are completely fictitious, you will be duped into thinking you are getting a good deal when you are actually being fleeced.


In the car industry the sticker price on a Ford is the same at a dealer from Kenosha as it is from San Jose. Sometimes dealers add in extra fees for optional equipment or even today ‘market adjustments. These add-ons will only show up beside the legal sticker and not as part of it.


Auto sticker prices are uniform on that little window square as required by law.  Not so in the RV industry.  They can be completely made up and are what ever the dealer decides to put on them.  Possibly you could exit an RV show with your new purchase and sale agreement only to find out that another dealer 300 miles away could have sold you that coach for less even though they have no manufacture’s representatives to “sweeten the deal”.


3] Chose the floor plan, before you buy the coach:

The most prized people in the RV industry are the floor plan designers.  An RV are simply a box in which rooms are placed.  And there are only so many places to put a bathroom, a kitchen and bedroom.  Make sure that your wife, girlfriend, or partner falls in love with their floor plan.  RV shows are good for sitting in these floor plans to get a feel for what it feels like to live in this space but not a good place too actually by the RV.  We men tend to fall in love with the mechanics of the RV not the design.  Women are great counterbalances for us because they think of thinks like shelf height, easy opening doors, and spice racks.


Many manufacturers build similar floor plans.  Pick the floor plan first then worry about which of these boxes you want to carry your floor plan.


4] Now shop around for your RV:

Look on the internet to see which manufacturers carry your desired floor plan.  Many manufacturers have similar floor plans. Find the ones who have your plan and start assessing the quality reputation of different manufacturers who have this floor plan.  Search for “Customer reviews of RV’s”. Stay away from sites that are manufacturer supporters.  If you can’t find any negative reviews on a particular builder than you are probably on a manufacturer sponsored website.  Since all RV are poorly build you will have to find the ones that seem to be the less poorly build.


Look for dealers across the country to find the ones who carry the best quality RV with you floor plan.  Call then and either buy one that they have in stock or order one. If you have the patience, ordering one with   just what you want and not paying for unwanted extras. Some people will fly across country just to get the coach that they want and then drive it home.

5] Make sure that you will have service accessibility for your new RV:

Dealer who carry you brand are the ones legally responsible for doing warranty work on your RV. And even then, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have to cough up some money to have them do what should be “free” warranty work.

We once had a Fleetwood Diesel pusher we bought out in Davis, CA. But we lived in Montery about two and half ours away.  So we tried to take it in for service to a qualified dealer about 30 minutes away from us.  They wanted to charge us $150.00 just to look at the coach before they would do warranty work.  I threw a fit and called Fleetwood that the dealer would not honor the warranty unless we paid the ransom fee.  Fleetwood said it was the dealers’ choice since they were privately owned. The dealer claimed that Fleetwood never paid them enough money to do the repairs so did this kind of highway robbery to ensure that the difference was made up.  Unfortunately, from the customer.

We had a Jayco Seneca 37 ft Super C.   W had learned our lesson from the Fleetwood affair, and before bought it, had Jayco certify a local service provider to do our warranty work.  I made this arrangement as a condition before buying the coach. No more 3-hour rides just to get to the selling dealer.


By, Neal Thornberry, Bumpy Roads RV (April 2022)


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