If you want to head south for the winter to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the RV lifestyle, now might be a great time to invest in a used motorhome. There are a lot of folks who took their turn using theirs in the summer and now they want to avoid storage and maintenance costs over the long winter season.
Taking advantage of this opportunity can be a good deal for you. Typically an RV has been depreciated about 50% in the first 36 months. After that, depreciation slows down considerably. Want some good advice on RV ownership? Here are a few suggestions you might find useful.
1. Determine your needs
Make a list of the features you will need to comfortably spend weeks on end in a relatively confined space. Is the bed big enough? How about the shower? What do you need in a kitchen? How about additional beds? Storage? TV? Satellite dish? Once you’ve gone through the list of creature comforts, you need to think about drivability. How big a rig will you be comfortable driving? How about your partner? What about mileage expectations? Will you be driving far? If so, steering and handling becomes a very big factor.
Visit popular forums like www.irv2.com where you can post questions and read about the experiences of others. Visit an RV park and meet some RV owners. Ask them how they like their rig, what they would change if they could and any other advice they could offer a first time buyer. You can also go to www.rv.net to find a directory that includes your area. They have a lot of great tools and listings of used RV’s to give you some comparison.
Use the NADA guide for RV’s by going to www.NADAGuides.com for getting up to date, realistic pricing for the year, make and model you are considering. Compare what you find there with what you will find on websites like Craigslist where you may find a seller with terrific pricing on their unit. Before you purchase the rig, spend $25 to get a vehicle history report from www.rvchecks.com. Make sure you have the VIN number to get started.
3. Road Performance Assessment
You are buying what will be your home on wheels for possibly several years or several seasons to come. Once you feel you have the unit you will be proud to own, make sure you have a professional road performance assessment (RPA) done. Many RV owners report driver fatigue and travel dissatisfaction due to the “white knuckle syndrome” that occurs when roads are narrow, winding or bumpy, or when traffic is thick or when passing through construction zones or facing windy, rainy or slippery conditions.
These conditions will occur. How well your new coach handles them can be determined in advance. Getting an RPA is like going to the doctor for a physical and having a “stress test”. It helps you know just how your new rig will perform in a variety of conditions that will inevitably come your way. Does it tail wag, porpoise or wander? Does it have steering play or safety devices that will keep your rig going straight in the event of a blowout? Would you buy a home without a home inspection?
That’s why we recommend our Road Performance Assessment (RPA®). Developed by Henderson’s Line-Up, the RPA is a systematic, diagnostic 15-mile road test that reveals steering and suspension problems over a variety of road surfaces. You’ll ride alongside our technician as your prospective coach drives over highways, curved and narrow roads, sharp turns, even bumps and ruts – they’re all included in the RPA to reproduce the very symptoms you want to check for and have eliminated before purchase.
At the test’s conclusion, we’ll perform a detailed inspection of more than 50 points on your coach. These include your air ride suspension (if equipped), tire wear, steering gear, disc brake rotors and pads, shock absorbers, tie rods, idler arms, king pins, ball joints, bushings and much more.
At the very least, an RPA will give you peace and mind upon gaining ownership. At best, it will reveal work that needs to be done and give you an appropriate point of leverage for negotiating a fair price based on the true condition of the coach.