April 13, 2016
You’ve done your homework, have a good idea of what you need, and you’ve found a few used RVs for sale in the area - but how do you know which one to choose? While no website can serve as a replacement for careful research and a good mechanic’s inspection, here are a few sites that can help you whittle down the list, get a better deal, and feel confident in your decision to buy a used RV.
#1. RV Tow Check Calculator - While this site may not apply to motorhomes, anyone searching for a fifth wheel or other trailer you should first know how much they can safely tow with your vehicle. This site features a handy calculator that lets you punch in all the specs for your tow vehicle, passenger weight, and cargo weight, and then determines how much towing capacity you have left over to pull a trailer. Since there is no sense looking at trailers or fifth wheels that you can’t tow, this information may help you quickly narrow your search.
#2. Forums - There are several RV related forums on the web with thousands of members, many of whom have purchased used RVs. Sites such as rv.net, Escapees Discussion Forum, and The RV Forum Community can be great for gaining some insight into the pros and cons of various models. Try performing a search for a particular model that you’re interested in to see if there is a pattern of owners describing any issues they've had. Better yet, start an account and ask other members about their experiences with a particular RV or manufacturer. Don’t make too much of any one person’s opinion, though a pattern of several owners with bad experiences may be cause for concern.
#3. NADA Guides - NADA offers a free and easy to use website that can help you determine a fair asking price for any RV. The valuation is very specific, taking into consideration the age, options, and locality to help ensure accuracy. Also, the database goes back decades, so you’re almost guaranteed to find the year and model that you’re looking for. Make sure to read the notes to get an idea of what is considered an option and what is already factored into the base price. A copy of the NADA valuation may give you a bit of bargaining power when it comes time to negotiate a final price.
#4. RVchecks History Reports - If you have the RV’s 17-digit VIN and $25, consider an RVchecks history report. The report may just turn up some potential concerns, such as title issues and recall notices, and can also tell you if the RV has been stolen, severely damaged, or used for commercial purposes in the past.