How to Buy a New RV
To avoid major problems, the same amount of time and consideration should be put into the decision of this purchase as the purchase of a primary residence. When buying an RV, the buyer must consider herself to be dealing with three major companies. Each of the following players is equally important, so do not skimp on the research in any particular area.
The Chassis Manufacturer
The chassis of the RV is the automobile or truck part of the purchase. Most RVs in the United States are built on a Ford or GM chassis. So, you will likely be buying a Ford or GM product. Ask what type of chassis the RV is built on and do the research on that make/model of truck. The chassis will have its own warranty, separate from the RV. Additionally, it would be good to know who will service the chassis after the purchase.
The RV Manufacturer
The RV will bear the name of the RV Manufacturer, in addition to the model. This is the home builder that takes the chassis and builds the house on top of it. Make sure you are comfortable that they are going to be around long after the purchase of the RV. Check their history of honoring warranties. Check the quality of the RV as if it were the final inspection of a newly constructed home. Make a punch list of things that need to be fixed – and there will almost certainly be multiple things. Before any paperwork is signed, these things should be fixed to the buyers’ satisfaction. Do not forget to check the exterior as well.
The RV Dealer
The dealership where the RV is purchased will serve as liaison between you and the RV Manufacturer. Whenever a repair needs to be made under warranty, the RV Dealer will be the one to make it happen, much like an automobile dealer communicates with the manufacturer when there is warranty work to be done.
Sources of Research
With three business relationships involved, there is perhaps more research required than even the purchase of a primary residence. However, since the RV is a depreciating asset, it is important that the buyer spend the extra time to be certain that the purchase is the best possible. Research can and should be completed through multiple avenues. The Better Business Bureaus which represent each of the businesses should be consulted. Internet user groups are a great source of information for word of mouth research. There are general user groups as well as user groups specific to RV manufacturers.
Research Before Buying
Recreational vehicles can be a great source of fun, but if not properly researched, they can be a huge headache and burden on the owner. They key to a successful RV purchase is a lot of research.
Rent VS Buy
Traveling in a recreational vehicle can be an exciting prospect. When determining whether or not to purchase an RV, consider renting one first. Following these guidelines will ensure that the next family vacation is the best one so far.
Visit Local RV Shows
This is the first, best thing to do in order to determine the type and size vehicle that will suit your needs. Go to a local RV show; sit behind the wheel of a variety of different vehicles. Try them on for size. Bring the family and/or your traveling companions. It helps to make sure everyone can be comfortable in the same type of RV or motorhome. Visit RV Ratings, an independent, nonprofit group that provides useful information, including a checklist of what to bring on the trip. It also provides information on what to look for in a renter’s contract.
Class A – this is the largest of the motorhomes. Usually 26 to 45 feet in length these RVs can feature one or more slide-outs. A slide-out is an extension of the living space of the RV usually accessed by the pushing of a button. In addition to standard gas-powered vehicles, this class of motorhome is also available as diesel pushers, which means it runs on diesel and the engine is in the back. Diesel pushers look more like a bus.
Class B – Camper Van/Van Conversion. These run 17 to 19 feet in length and can be driven without too much of an adjustment period because their size is similar to that of a standard van.
Class C – Mini-Motorhomes or Cab Over. These vehicles are built on a car chassis and feature driver and passenger side doors. Basically a scaled down version of a Class A, these RVs can range in length from 22 to 35 feet.
Diesel Pullers – The newest addition to the motorhome arena, diesel pullers feature the engines in the front and have more of a truck-like look to them.
Destination and Timeframe
Planning a minimum two-week trip can help determine the size RV needed. Be specific about the destination. Know the available RV parks and rates and budget accordingly. Don’t just hit the road without a plan. Planning the trip before renting the vehicle will also help determine the size and type vehicle required. In addition, know the available transportation options, such as mass transit, bicycle rentals, taxis, etc., that are available at the final destination.
Create a Budget
As with any vacation, create a budget and stick to it. Factor in all the costs associated with the trip. This includes the RV rental, all other associated rental costs such as deposits, gas, insurance, mileage and taxes to name a few. Factor in food, campsite charges and the activities planned during the trip.
So, consider renting an RV or motorhome for that next getaway. It’s different and can be extremely exciting. Whether it’s a 100-mile jaunt or an epic adventure across the country, plan ahead, visit RV shows, budget accordingly and make this the trip of a lifetime.
Buying a Caravan
Caravans have been a popular holidaying option for many years and for a wide variety of people. The advantages are numerous: once the initial outlay has been spent, a holiday can be relatively inexpensive; a caravan provides the ability to move around to a wide range of locations, and as a mobile holiday home there is no packing and unpacking on arrival. But buying a caravan can be a big commitment; here are some factors to consider:
Car Towing Capacity
It’s easy to fall in love with a large six-berth caravan; but if the towing car can’t pull the weight, then it’s a no go. Before looking, check the tow weight of the car that will be towing the caravan.
Consider how much the car driver will be comfortable pulling behind the car. While the car might be capable of pulling a large van, the primary driver may not feel confident manoeuvring a long vehicle through a variety of roads and lanes. Safety must always be a priority when selecting the right caravan.
The caravanning owners need to consider their requirements for the interior of the caravan.
- Number of people to sleep in the van
- Happy putting a bed up every evening?
- How much cooking in caravan? (many caravanners also enjoy barbequing while on holidays)
- Bathroom arrangements. Some caravanners only go to sites with showers so do not need extensive showing facilities in their van.
- Interior Layout. Some have L-shaped couches, other face to face couches. Some have a couple of separate tables allowing multiple areas for different activities (useful for families)
- Storage space. Vans can differ greatly with storage capacity. Check also how easy it is to get to some storage. While under seats provides lots of storage, if it’s difficult to get to then storing items there may cause inconvenience.
New or Second-hand Caravan?
This decision may be decided by budget or by caravan requirements. Second-hand caravans can be a good, low cost alternative for first time caravan buyers, but some people choose second-hand because the designs suit their requirements better. New caravans tend to weigh more and have more luxurious (and heavy) interior fittings. Some people do not want caravans with such fittings, preferring a more simple, back to basics, style of caravanning. Equally, newer caravans tend to come with microwaves built-in and places for televisions.
If considering a second-hand caravan always buy from a reputable caravan dealer that offers a warranty on their vans. Never buy a caravan without seeing it first as problems such as dampness, or poor seals, are not evident from photographs.
Consider where the caravan can be stored, safely and securely. Depending upon suitability and local council regulations, storage at home may be an option. Caravan storage sites are a good alternative, usually at an additional monthly cost. In the UK, CaSSOA, The Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Assocation, provides advice on storage as well as approved storage sites.
Caravanning holidays do require an element of adventure and self-sufficiency. While a caravan doesn’t require the same setting up as a tent, there is still plenty to do when arriving at a site, such as hooking up electricity and gathering water. If a family, caravans means spending a lot of time in close vicinity, regardless of the size of the van. While caravanners can regularly eat out or collect take-away, most often take advantage of having a kitchen available.
If unsure if caravanning is suitable, hiring a caravan for a holiday can be a good way to give it a try without the upfront commitment of purchasing a van.