RVs aren’t cheap, no matter how you slice it or dice it, so if you’re in the market for a new travel trailer, we highly recommend taking a (long) moment to really think about a few things, including which type of the vehicle best suits your needs, what kind of features you need, and, perhaps most importantly, how much money you’re prepared to pay for it. ((Bear in mind that buying a motorhome is also a long-term commitment; not only do you have to pay for the rig itself, but there also are many upkeep expenses to think about, including replacing the tires every few years, getting regular oil changes, keeping the brakes in top shape, and so much more.)) So, before you even start visiting the dealers, we recommend doing some serious digging and planning so you can be sure you’re making the best choice. This includes, but is not limited to, figuring out the best time to buy an RV, as well as best places to buy a used vehicle if you don’t have the budget for a new one, and whether or not should get a used RV from a private person or a dealership. To help point you in the right direction, here are specific times of the year to look for your new travel trailer.
Before the Release of New Models
If you don’t have a big budget to spend on your RV, but still want a new instead of a used vehicle, we highly recommend visiting dealerships before the release of new models, which is typically at the end of winter. Most manufacturers release the latest models in spring and they will want to get rid of their old units to make way for new ones. This is the ideal time to shop for an RV – most likely, you’ll be able to negotiate a big discount and save a lot of money. As a bonus, sales are typically low in winter, so you should find it much easier to strike a bargain with the dealer during winter than in spring.
Obviously, do this only if you don’t feel the need to own the latest model; yes, latest RVs tend to boast the best features and extras, however, the difference between the older and new models is often very small. If you don’t care about the latest cosmetics, we recommend buying an older RV model.
During an RV Trade Show
An RV trade show is a fantastic place to try and negotiate a deal on a travel trailer or an RV. Why? For one, the dealers come to these shows not only because they want to show off their latest vehicles, but more importantly, because they want (and need) to sell them. In fact, many are so hungry to make a sale, they are prepared to offer you significant discounts. After all, the dealers are surrounded by competition here who are all competing for your attention. Use this to your advantage. Another great thing about RV and camper shows – the dealerships would rather avoid spending money on transporting their vehicles back to their showrooms, so they have even more incentive to sell them.
Here’s how to shop at a trade show – first, take a few days to look around, talk to dealers and other people, and learn about the units with good and bad reputation. Next, make a list of the models you like best. Finally, make your move on the very last day of the show because this is when the dealers are more likely to reduce their prices (remember, they would much rather sell their vehicles even at lower prices than pay money to transport them back to their showrooms).
End of the Sales Season
Here’s a thing to keep in mind about RV dealers: most have a sales quota to reach by the end of each month or year, depending on the dealership. This means that at the end of the sales season, most will want to sell at least some of their vehicles at discounts. You can use this to your advantage by shopping for an RV in the middle of the fall or winter. After all, RVs and campers are seasonal items, so dealerships will be at their busiest during warmer months; avoid spring and summer and shop during fall and winter and you’re pretty much guaranteed to strike a good deal.
When Gas Prices are High
Okay, this one sounds a little weird but bear with us because it’s actually quite logical. When the gas prices are high, most folks look at their rigs as burdens so many of them will want to sell them. Obviously, this is a great time to buy an RV if you’re looking for a used vehicle. Lots of RVs in good condition become available in the moment of panic so if you have done your homework earlier, you can get a great RV or a travel trailer at a low price.
Purchase During Winter
As mentioned, one of the best times to buy an RV is during the colder months, so winter and fall. Winter is particularly good for shopping for a new motorhome because the sales of all recreational vehicles drop during this time of year and you can grab a fantastic unit at a massive discount with a little bit of planning and luck. This is the time to make your move because most manufacturers release new models in spring so dealerships will want to clear out their old units to make way for new ones. Also, this is the time when dealerships are making the least number of sales, so you’re more likely to get extra attention from salespeople. Take this time to ask all the questions you’re interested in and don’t be afraid to negotiate an even bigger discount.
Southern State Dealerships
Alright, so we talked about the best times to buy an RV, but what about the best places? Many popular RV manufacturers are located in the southern states, so their models can typically be found at lower prices here. Why, you ask? It’s pretty straightforward actually – they don’t have to pay money on transportation to northern states. For this reason, it’s not unusual to find the same models you like up north in southern states for a little less.
Now, when it comes to specific places, the cheapest state to buy RV is Montana because it has zero sales taxes (plus, it allows people from out of the state to purchase and register a vehicle there).
Buying A Used RV From A Private Person VS Buying An RV From A Dealership
So, you’ve decided to purchase a used recreational vehicle – do you go to a private seller or a dealership? To help you answer that question yourself, here are a few pros and cons of both options.
- Private Seller
RVs, motorhomes, and travel trailers are highly popular with families who want to make memories that their kids will treasure forever. But once the children are grown, the parents are left with a huge vehicle just sitting in storage. Many of these families are willing to sell their used RVs for a very reasonable price, so you’re almost guaranteed to find a cheaper vehicle from a private seller than at a dealership. However, many second-hand motorhomes and RVs tend to be quite old; nothing wrong with that except for the fact that older vehicles usually come with more mechanical problems. Another minus for private sellers is that they practically never offer any kind of warranty. We suggest looking for slightly used RVs, old between two to four years, because they typically have low mileage and are in good condition, yet are priced very fairly.
If you don’t mind paying a little more for a top-notch used RV, go to dealerships because they offer limited warranties. Dealerships also usually have more options so you’ll probably find plenty of newer second-hand vehicles that are bound to last for years with good care. In any case, we recommend waiting for fall or winter to buy your used RV because dealers know that sales are slow during this time.
In the end, the best place to buy used RV is the place that offers the best options, so look around, inform yourself, and don’t be hesitate to negotiate a lower price.
Buying an RV, a travel trailer, or a motorhome is a big decision whether you’re purchasing a new or a used vehicle. But if you do proper homework, arm yourself with a fair amount of patience, and wait for the right time to purchase an RV, you can definitely save a lot of money.