Are you thinking about buying an RV but you’re worried about saving money on the purchase? There are a lot of factors that go into finding the right RV.
There current market is full of attractive options. Of course, budget matters. There are a lot of factors that go into the shopping and RV purchase process, which can impact the price, or save you thousands of dollars.
Questions you should be asking yourself include:
- What type of RV is right for me?
- How can get the most for my money?
- What is the best time to buy an RV?
So, what is the best time of year to buy an RV or travel trailer ? In general, the fall and winter tend to be a good time to buy an RV in northern states and Canada. This is due in large part to the climate, driving pricing, as well as the need for dealerships and private sellers to moveunits rather than bear the cost of winterizing them. It’s also worth noting that some older, “Pre-Owned” RV’s are not designed for colder weather.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to get a great deal on an RV simply by timing the shopping and buying process.
This includes things like:
- The best time of the year to buy an RV.
- Buying from an RV dealership.
- Buying a used RV from a private seller.
- Buying just as a new model is released.
- Shopping and buying at an RV tradeshow.
- Finding “End of Summer” deals.
- Taking advantage of price changes when the price of gas goes up.
- When gas prices take a steep climb.
Step One: Preparation And Financial Planning
People looking for a new or pre-owned RV are often spoiled for choice.
Planning your financing and getting a good idea of the features that are right for you will go a long way toward making sure you not going to suffer from buyer’s remorse.
Step Two: Window Shopping
Do you want a motorhome? Do you want a fifth wheel camper? Would a travel trailer or toy hauler be better for you? Do you want to camp in luxury, or are you looking to rough it?
These are all great first questions to ask before you walk through a dealership door.
With some dealerships, you’re going to have a pushy salesman who follows you around like a personal attendant singing the praises of everything in the showroom.
There are also some dealerships who will respect you when you tell them that you are just window shopping.
A Saturday afternoon spent wandering through one or two RV dealerships will give you a good idea of what kind of RV is right for you.
It can also help you dial in the special features and creature comforts that you are really looking for.
If you find a standard model that doesn’t have a special feature that you like in another model, chances are you can find a dealer or aftermarket installer that can handle the upgrade for a reasonable price.
Financing And Financial Planning
Even a simple travel trailer is no small investment. It’s a good idea to have a budget plan in mind long before you agree to sign on the dotted line.
Most lender and the financial advisers at your bank can help you dial in your maximum monthly payment and start the preapproval process.
This will give you the ability to pull the trigger when the right RV appears at the right price.
It’s also a good idea to plan for a sizeable down payment. Certain lenders will require a basic percentage.
Myself personally, I always put down between 5% to 10% of the price when I make any major purchase.
what is the best month to buy a RV?
Fall and early winter tend to be the best times to buy an an RV or travel trailer. The months of October and November are typically considered to be the peak time in northern states. It tends to be a time when dealerships are making the least number of sales, but it’s also the time of year when the new models are about to come out.
This also means you are likely to get extra attention from salespeople. It’s a great time to get all your questions answered and explore all the available optional extras.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that many small to medium size dealers want to get last year’s model out of the showroom, to make room for the new.
They’re also sick and tired of playing games on their phone and trying to find ways to look busy, without polishing the chrome hubs on the RV.
Chances are if you twist their arm enough, and you let them sweat it out a bit, they will either knock a little off the price.
Though don’t be surprised if the prices stay the same, but they offer you little upgrade features, like including luxury appliances, gift cards on gas, or installing custom lighting upgrades.
How To Save When Buying An RV From A Dealership
Rising Gas Prices Can Yield Good Deals
Dealerships are also more likely to have some tough sledding in their sales any time gas prices start to rise.
This is due in large part to the rather accurate perception that RV’s consume a lot of gas.
This tends to keep people out of the showroom, even during the beautiful days of spring when RV sales are supposed to be the best.
To help move more units RV manufacturers are more likely to offer large scale “Short-Term” deals.
Their affiliated lenders are also more likely to offer exceptionally friendly percentage rates.
Last Year’s Models Need To Make Room For New Models In Spring And End Of Summer
Most RV manufacturers will release new models every year. When this happens, they need to unsold units from last year’s model to make room.
While the showroom is the place you are likely to see the biggest deals, there are some dealerships with a relatively small lot, who will offer “Special Pricing” to make room.
You might also notice these special deals appearing at the end of summer. They know how hard it is to move units in January.
So, they will offer sales in August and September for those people who want to get away for a short trip at the end of the year.
Deals To Be Found In Southern State Dealerships
Many of the more popular RV manufacturers are in the southern states. You will often find the same units you like up north in a southern state, for a little less.
This is related to transportation costs, of not having to move the units north, as well as people traveling more in the southern states during the winter.
If you do a fair amount of searching inventory on the internet and making a few curious phone calls, you might be able to find a sweet deal on the RV you are looking for.
Just take into account the cost of the one-way plane ticket to get there!
Shopping During An RV Trade-Show
An RV trade show are a great place to negotiate and haggle out a great deal on an RV, motorhome or a new travel trailer.
Most of the salespeople who man these industry trade shows are hungry to make a sale. They are also surrounded by a sea of competitors who are also vying for your attention.
For a savvy negotiator, this is the ideal leverage to find a great deal. This is especially true for dealers and manufacturers who have come a long way and want to save on the transport costs of unsold units.
Chances are if they are from more than one state away, you will likely see something like “Show Sale” or “Special Pricing Available.”
Just keep in mind that some of these dealerships may not have their in-house financing people with them.
So, if you are planning to fish a tradeshow for a great deal, you might want to already have your loan pre-approval tucked under your arm.
Even if you don’t initially find the unit you want at a tradeshow, it’s also a great place to window shop.
Some of the dealers at a show will fall into deep runs of boredom. “Shooting The Breeze” with them can give you some great insights into current industry trends, upcoming innovations, and units that might have a good or bad reputation.
Buying A Pre-Owned RV From A Private Individual
Motorhomes, RV’s, campers, and travel trailers are very popular with families who want to build memories that their children will cherish forever.
Once their kids are grown, the RV tends to sit in storage waiting to be sold.
Many of these families are willing to sell these pre-owned RV’s for a very reasonable price. Especially, if they have college tuition costs to worry about!
Chances are they might even be willing to knock a few dollars off for an abstract juice box stain on one of the seats.
Tips For Buying From A Private Seller
The pre-owned marketplace is one that will leave you feeling spoiled for choice. The older you are willing to go, the more you are likely to save.
Yet age also increases the risk of mechanical problems. Especially when it comes to things like the wheel bearings on an older camper, toy hauler, or travel trailer.
Take Your Time
It’s important to take your time and shop around. Since the pre-owned marketplace is so vast, there are many websites available for you to surf indiscriminately. This includes:
- RV shows
- Used RV listings
Some RV dealerships will also post ads for their current inventory, just as a way to keep their own foot in the marketplace.
Some are simply looking to move out of date units, or trade-in RVs that have spent a little too much time on their sales lot.
Wait Until Fall And Winter In The North
A lot of people who buy a new RV will be less than motivated to sell their old RV during the summer.
Yet when the leaves start to change color or the snow begins to fly, they tend to become more willing to make a deal.
If anything, it saves them the cost of having to winterize and store their old RV.
Many people in this position are willing to give you a great deal, so long as you are willing to take it down the road today.
If you hem and haw about waiting until spring, they are more likely to wait for someone else to come along.
Watch For Well-Maintained Units
When you are shopping online, it can be hard to tell how well a particular RV has been maintained. Most people aren’t going to show you stains, or damaged areas in the photo.
Someone who includes things like pictures of how good the tread is on the tires, or how clean the motor is, are demonstrating pride of ownership.
If the online photo looks like the RV has become part of a giant leaf pile, or there’s a glacier on the roof, it could be taken as a sign of neglect.
Personally, I ignored signs of neglect on a 1970s Nomad travel trailer, and it came back to bite me a few months down the road.
Whenever possible, ask to take a test drive. Pay attention to how it tracks and corners, which could be a sign of an alignment issue.
Beware of what sounds like “Excess Road Noise” coming from one particular tire. This could be a bearing failure problem that’s about to go wrong.
Whenever possible, ask for the maintenance and repair records. You want to see receipts for oil changes, brake pads, and replacement air filters.
If it has over 100,000 miles, it should have had a tune-up.
With a fair amount of patience and a stern eye for quality, you can save a lot of money on an RV that has a lot of life left to live.