How to Buy an RV Without Getting Ripped off (10 Insider Tips)

Dealers and private sellers typically have one thing in mind when selling an RV – profit!

And unfortunately, that can lead to the buyer getting ripped off to maximize those profits.

But if you enter the deal armed with a few insider tips and tricks, you can ensure you’ll pay the lowest price possible.

So, let’s learn how to buy an RV without getting ripped off! Plus, learn what you should never say to your salesperson to ensure you get the best deal!

Buy at the Right Time

best time to buy an rv

You can save thousands of dollars just by purchasing your recreational vehicle at the right time! 

The best time of year to buy an RV is fall. Demand starts to dwindle, and RV dealers need to make room for next year’s models. This will allow you to get the current year’s models for a discounted price!

Tip: Call your local dealer and ask when next year’s models are expected to arrive. Then plan your RV purchase a few weeks before that date.

This is also a great time of year to save on used campers since owners often sell their units at the end of the camping season to avoid the winterization process and finding storage.

Check out When Is the Best Time to buy a Camper? for more tips to effectively time your purchase.

Use a Third-Party Inspector

use a third party inspector

The best way to ensure you’re not spending thousands in repair costs right after your purchase is to have the RV inspected. And not buy the dealer’s mechanics, but by your own third-party inspector.

A typical third-party inspection can run between $300 for a pop-up camper up to $1200+ for a Class-A. But, it’s well worth it as it can potentially save you thousands of dollars and the stress of dealing with repairs while on a trip.

Tip: Search www.NRVIA.org/locate to find a third-party RV inspector near you

An RV inspection will consist of an all-systems check, including water, hookups, propane, electrical, fluid analysis, and life safety systems.

If the dealer won’t allow you to have the RV third-party inspected, that’s a serious red flag.

Never Pay Full Price

haggle for the best deal

Like most autos, the asking price on an RV is just that, what they are asking. There’s plenty of wiggle room to haggle and negotiate down the price.

But, how much can you negotiate on a new RV? In our experience, it’s not uncommon to negotiate 20% to 30% off the MSRP!

Just remember to set a maximum price you’re willing to pay and stick to it, start low (well below that maximum), and don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal if it’s not what you want. 

Tip: Leave your contact information if you are forced to walk away. It might take a week or so, but more often than not, they will call you with an acceptable offer.

Find the Best Deal

find the best deal

Don’t limit yourself to your local dealer! To find the best deal on the RV you want and to avoid getting ripped off, shop around. Online marketplaces like RVTrader.com and CampingWorld.com are good places to start. 

Another great option is RV shows! They are home to some of the best deals on recreational vehicles and campers! Essentially, you have dealerships and manufacturers competing for your business – all under one roof.

Tip: Wait till the last day of the show, near the final hours, to get the absolute best deal on an RV!

On the downside, you may have to wait a while for an RV show to happen. And there may not be one near you.

Factor in Taxes and Fees Ahead of Time

negotiate taxes and fees

Taxes and fees are part of the buying process. So, don’t agree to a final price on the RV just to have another couple thousand tacked on in fees. 

If possible, negotiate the taxes and fees into the final cost so you can stay below the maximum price you’re willing to pay for the RV.

Be Mindful of Sales Tactics

don't fall victim to sales tactics

Like car salespeople, RV salespeople use certain tactics to help sell their vehicles. Often playing on your emotions to get the sale.

One such tactic is called the “Power of 3”, and it goes like this:

  • They show you an RV they want you to buy
  • Then show you one that’s a step down from the first one
  • Lastly, they show you one way out of your price range or bigger than you need

Then when they show you the first one again, it seems like the perfect choice.

This is how they get you to buy an RV that they can make the most incentive on, whether or not it’s one you really wanted in the first place.

Another strategy often used is “playing the clock”. Essentially, they draw out the sales process until you’re completely exhausted and agree to the sale. Haggling can be an all-day process, so set the stage early and ask for the best price right away. If the salesperson insists on going back and forth with their sales manager, tell them you have to leave and to text you their price.

Don’t fall victim to their mind games and sales tactics. And if they constantly try to steer you away from the RV you want and towards another, that’s a big red flag.

Do Your Research

do your research

Once you have a specific model picked out, do your research on it. I don’t want to say it’s common, but sometimes the salesperson may lie about the vehicle’s features. 

And it’s very possible that they’re not lying but rather don’t know and are just making a best guess.

The best advice here is to do your own research and not rely on the salesperson for all the details about the RV. Some salespeople are more knowledgeable than others, but either way, you shouldn’t rely on them. If you’re told something wrong or untrue, whether they meant it or not, you may feel ripped off.

High Demand Drives up Costs

demand drives up rv cost

When demand for an item goes up, the price tends to follow suit. This economic principle is important to understand when buying an RV.

As we touched on earlier, the time you buy an RV plays a role in its price. In the fall, when demand is low, they tend to be cheaper. Conversely, near the end of winter and early spring, demand is higher. Thus, prices tend to rise.

Furthermore, when a particular type of RV becomes more popular, demand rises along with the price.

For example, take Class-B campervans. Thanks to the more popular than ever van life fad on social media and Youtube, the demand for these vehicles has skyrocketed. And so has the price!

In fact, you can currently get a Class-C motorhome or fifth wheel with more space and features for less than a camper van.

Keep that in mind when looking for the perfect RV for your camping style and budget.

Consider Buying Used

consider buying a used rv

Like with most new vehicles, the second you drive it off the lot, it loses 15% to 20% of its value! 

You can avoid that drastic depreciation by buying a used RV

It’s very possible to find a like-new pre-owned RV for thousands cheaper than the current year’s asking price.

It’s a great way to get a high-quality RV without feeling like you got ripped off. 

Tip: Make sure to have an RV inspection done and consider additional warranty extensions to help protect your investment.

Explore Financing Options

get pre-approved

Researching your financing options is a great way to ensure you don’t get ripped off on the backend of the deal.

For example, you could negotiate the perfect price for your RV but end up paying thousands more over the life of the loan due to bad interest rates.

Related: How to Buy an RV With Bad Credit

Some dealers get incentives for recommending a particular lender, even if that lender has the highest interest rates.

So, going to the bargaining table with financing already set up is a good idea. This will also help you negotiate since it’s a sign you’re serious about buying.

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Buying an RV FAQs

Do You Haggle When Buying an RV?

You can negotiate, or haggle, the price when buying an RV. It’s a great way to potentially save 20% or more off the asking price. Start low, be firm with the highest price you’re willing to pay and don’t be afraid to leave your contact information and walk away. More often than not, they will call with an acceptable price.

What Should I Not Tell My RV Salesman?

Never give your salesman too much information up front. In other words, never show all your cards right away. It’s simply not needed and can negatively affect the deal.

Most importantly, never tell the salesperson:

  • How much you love the RV! They will immediately think you’ll do anything to buy it and try to get top-dollar for it.
  • You don’t know anything about RVs. Act knowledgable, so you’re less likely to be taken advantage of.
  • If you have a trade-in (not until you’ve accepted a price on the new RV).
  • That you don’t want to get ripped off. This just implies that your salesman is a con artist, which they will understandably not like. And they may not give you as good of a deal.
  • Your credit situation during the deal. Especially if you have bad credit.

Bottom line, don’t give them any information until you’ve negotiated the best deal on the RV. Then you can discuss money down, trade-ins, financing, etc.

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