RV Buying Tips: 5 Things an RV Dealer Won’t Tell You for Free Leave a comment

Are you hearing the call of #vanlife? The desire to downsize and hit the road in a camper van or RV can hit you hard, and it’s important to head into a dealer completely informed before you make your purchase. Here are some tips that you likely won’t hear when you’re in the process of buying your new home on wheels.

It Could Have a Tax Benefit

Have you always wanted a second home? This is your chance — and you can reap the tax benefits of it, too. Any interest you pay on your RV is tax deductible, because it’s considered a self-contained second home, says Justin Humphreys, VP of sales at Airstream. So in other words, don’t be afraid to finance it. But also remember to look at the fine print, says Gigi Stetler, founder and CEO at RV Sales of Broward. Some dealers will add a fee to pay off the loan early, and if you finance it out 20 years, you could be making payments past the life of the RV itself.

You’ll Need a Good Place to Store It

Humphreys says one of the main things people overlook when they’re purchasing a camper van or RV is where it’s going to live when you’re not driving it. Does your driveway or street have the room, and is it even allowed? Or will you have to find an RV park to store it at while it’s not in use? Make sure you have that figured out before buying.

I get it. Reading the manual for anything can be a real drag. But with an RV or camper van, it’s important. If you miss some maintenance that the manual outlines and something happens, your insurance could refuse to cover it.

“Unfortunately, 99.9 percent of the dealers out there never mention any of [the maintenance],” Stetler says. It’s up to you to read the manual and make sure everything is maintained and taken care of properly. You should do that even if you ask about common maintenance problems — the dealer might forget to mention something.

If you want maintenance and repairs to be seamless, buy from a local dealer. When you purchase an RV, only the dealer that sold it to you is obligated to do any work on it, Stetler says. So if you want to save a bunch of money and buy one cheaper a few states over, you should rethink that.

“Dealers will flat out tell you that you can go to any [RV] dealer [for maintenance work].” Stetler says. This isn’t always the case — and Stetler admits she’s heard of dealers telling people that anyway to cinch the sale.

There’s a Robust RV and Van Community

If you do have problems with your RV or camper van, though, there’s a huge community of like-minded people to talk you through it, Humphreys says. Dealers might not mention this when you’re going through the purchase process. “There are rallies, there are caravans, there are subgroups,” he says. “You can be as involved as you want. You can get so many answers from this community.”

Jennifer Billock


Jennifer Billock is an award-winning writer, bestselling author, and editor. She is currently dreaming of an around-the-world trip with her Boston terrier.

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