The decision to buy a travel trailer is a big decision for most families. If you've never owned one before, there are worrisome thoughts.
"Is this a good decision?"
"Is new better than used?"
"Will we even use it after the first year?"
Those are all valid questions that should enter into your decision to buy a travel trailer. In this article, we're going to give you the reasons to buy used.
So, why buy a used travel trailer?
Advantages Of Buying A Used RV
Buying Used Saves Money
Saving money is the biggest incentive for buying a used travel trailer. In a private sale, we bought a Class A motor home for $35,000 when the same model new cost $150,000. Even though it was an older model, it was an awesome deal.
We used it for a year, but we didn't like it. So we sold it for $36,000. We had to do some repairs so we didn't make any money. But we used it for a year, living in it full time, for free.
Used Trailers Have The Bugs Worked Out
During the first year or two RVs and travel trailers often need warranty repairs.
Our current trailer is 18 months old. The dealer replaced the axles and the water pump. We also had some trim come loose. If we bought this same unit only a year later from someone else, the repairs would have been already done.
Instead of having the trailer down for repairs, we would have been out enjoying ourselves.
Tip: Although buying a used travel trailer will save you money, you may have some minor damage to fix. Because you bought used, you'll have money to fix a few things that are wrong.
Trailer Depreciation Paid By The Original Owner
Like any vehicle, the moment you drive off the lot, depreciation kicks in. By buying an RV used, you'll save thousands of dollars in depreciation.
You Get Upgrades for Pennies
When people buy a new RV or travel trailer, they often add upgrades. When you buy used, you get the previous owner's upgrades without paying retail prices for them.
What To Avoid When Buying A Used RV
Roof age: Most RV roof guarantees are good for 10-12 years. Check the roof for rips, tears, and bubbles. They're all bad signs, and roof replacement is expensive.
Signs of water leaks. Any discolorations in the walls, especially near the ceiling are a bad sign.
Tip: Check behind the toilet for water stains. And open cabinet doors to look for water stains.
Excessive Dents and dings. RVs and travel trailers get dings, scratches, and dents. Don't pass a good deal because of a few minor dents and dings. But watch for dents on corners where water could leak.
Tire wear. Abnormal tire wear could be a sign of overloading or axel problems
Tip: Check the age of the tires. The manufacturing date is on the sidewall of the tire. It's a four-digit number. 2520 is the 25th week of 2020. Tires are good for about 6 years. If they're over 10 years old, they need replacement.
Maintenance Issues. Rust And Underbody Damage.
Drawbacks To Buying Used
When looking at buying a used travel trailer, there are trade-offs.
Changes To Floor Plan
If you find a new travel trailer floorplan that you like, a model 2 or 3 years older may have a different floorplan.
Limited Or No Warranty
If you buy from a private party, you'll buy it "as-is-where-is", so make sure you like it before you buy it.
If you buy from a dealer, you'll usually get some limited warranty protection. When they say "limited", they mean it.
RV repairs are expensive. If you aren't comfortable with the risk of not having a warranty, you should buy a new trailer.
TIP: For a few hundred dollars have a used trailer inspected by a pro. We once bought an RV without an inspection. We felt we knew enough about RVs that if we missed anything, it would be minor. And we'd save $350. That decision cost us about $3,000 in repairs and a lot of time.
A Used Travel Trailer Won't Have The Latest Technology
If you buy an RV that is 5 or more years old, it won't have the latest technology. Like most vehicles, things change year-to-year.
- You'll save money.
- You can get a larger RV for the same price as a smaller unit new.
- You get upgrades for pennies on the dollar.
- A used travel trailer will give years of fun for you and your family.
- The previous owner finished any warranty repairs