Pros & Cons of Buying a New vs Used RV – Why We’ve Only Had New

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The decision between buying a new vs used RV is a significant decision to make. It’s a topic that often stirs lively debate within the RV community. In this article, we delve into the details of this decision-making process, sharing insights from our personal RV buying experiences, highlighting the pros and cons of buying new vs used RVs.

Buying a New vs Used RV

Whether it’s the allure of an RV manufacturer’s warranty and a fresh, untraveled vehicle, or the cost savings and potential for a well-worn in and tested home on wheels, each choice comes with its unique set of advantages and drawbacks. From considerations about depreciation and insurance costs to the excitement of making an RV truly your own, we’ll explore what it really means to opt for a new vs used RV and help guide you through these considerations to make a well-informed decision on your RV purchase.

“Never buy a new RV!”
“Don’t you wish you had bought used?”

Those are some of the most popular statements we heard after we bought a new Class A motorhome. Since purchasing that first RV, we’ve had a Class B RV on the Ram ProMaster chassis, a truck camper, and our current camper is a Class B RV on the Ford Transit chassis…all were new when we got them. The only vehicle we purchased used was the truck for the truck camper (we’ll get into that later). That said, we’ve shopped for a lot of used RVs as well and will share some the reasons why you may or may not want to go the used RV route.

In the video below, I walk you through the pros and cons of buying a new vs used RV and why we decided to buy our first RV new.

Pros & Cons of Buying a New RV

The Pros:

  • Manufacturer’s warranty
  • No previous owner
  • Get the make/model RV you want or have one custom built

The Cons:

  • Premium price
  • High depreciation
  • Need to work out kinks/issues
  • Higher insurance / registration costs

Pros & Cons of Buying a Used RV

The Pros:

  • Lower price
  • Lower insurance / registration costs
  • Less depreciation
  • Kinks/issues worked out (possibly)
  • Option for private sale and extended warranties from third parties

The Cons:

  • Previous owner(s)
  • Higher potential for hidden issues
  • Limited selection

Why We’ve Only Had New RVs

We shopped for used RVs before we got each of our campers. Kait and I spent many hours on sites like RV Trader searching through hundreds of used RVs.

The reason we spent so much time looking at used RVs is because there are a lot of good reasons to buy used however we kept running into issues.

  • We couldn’t find the exact make/model we wanted locally. This was important because we wanted to see the RV in person before we purchased it.
  • Undisclosed and misrepresented issues with the RV. Throughout the years, we’ve seen used RVs with water damage, rust, bad smells, etc that the owners never disclosed before we came to see them. Prior to buying our truck camper, we did find a used truck and camper that we liked a few states away. After spending a lot of time on the phone with the seller, we decided to purchase it and flew out to take delivery. When we arrived, we found that the truck and camper had multiple issues that were never disclosed and some misrepresented issues. In the end, we walked away and flew home.
  • Right floorpan, wrong chassis. Another thing we encountered when looking for a used Class B RV was that we would find one with the floorplan we liked but we didn’t like the chassis it was built on and vice versa. I share my thoughts on the different RV van chassis options in the videos ProMaster vs Transit and Transit vs Sprinter.
  • We did buy half of one of our RVs used. Let me explain. When we decided on getting a truck camper, we liked that we could get around the issue we ran into shopping for used Class B RVs. With a truck camper, we could buy the camper we wanted and put it on the truck we wanted. So while we bought the camper new (custom ordered), we bought a 2000 Ford F350 since it was the perfect truck (for us) to travel the world in. While it’s needed a lot of work, once we were ready for another Class B RV, we sold the camper and kept the truck.
  • Every used RV we’ve seen has had issues. A big pro to buying used is that the previous owner (hopefully) took care of all of the bugs from the factory. That said, an RV goes through an earthquake everytime it goes down the road so things will break and wear out. We’ve seen some RVs that have been VERY well taken care of and, in those cases, the owners wanted almost as much for the used RV as a new one. In other cases, as I mentioned above, we’ve walked in RVs and smelled cigarette smoke, sewer/black tank smells and have seen our share of water damage. As my grandmother used to say, “when you buy used, you’re just inheriting someone else’s problems.
  • We wanted a factory warranty. Part of the premium you spend on a new RV is for the warranty. While you can still get a warranty on a used RV, since we were living in the RV full-time, we wanted to be able to call the company and have them work with us to get any issues we had resolved.
  • We had a specific make/model RV we wanted to buy or features that we had to have. When we got our Class B RV on the ProMaster, it was a brand new model and we would have had to have waited a year or so before there were any on the used market, so buying used wasn’t an option (the same thing is true with our current camper as it was one of the first off the line). With our truck camper, we had very specific requirements for the battery/electrical system and it made more sense for us to custom order the camper through the factory rather than buy used and try to retrofit it.
  • Depreciation isn’t as bad as they make it out to be. Yes, new RVs depreciate more than used RVs, however used RVs still depreciate. When we sold our Class A a year and a half after we bought it, the price had depreciated by 10%. We’ve read guides that say you should expect your RV to depreciate 30% or more in the first year. I believe how much your RV depreciates is based on how in demand that make/model is and how well you took care of it. It’s also dependent on the economy at the time. During 2020-2021, we saw used RVs selling for more than new because the wait for a new RV was over a year.

To learn more about our first RV shopping and buying process, check out my book Take Risks.

Would We Buy New Again?

Absolutely. But we would also continue to consider used RVs.

If we were to buy used, we’d consider used RVs that are 5 to 10 years old or more because we can save a LOT over buying new. When we look at used RVs, we are factoring in the cost of fixing any issues and replacing many things – especially the bed and upgrading the battery, electrical and solar system.

We haven’t been able to find an RV that checks all the boxes. No RV is perfect but you can get it pretty close by custom ordering. That’s what we did with our Four Wheel Campers pop-top truck camper that we got. We had a lot of special requests and the only way we could get what we wanted would have been to try and retrofit a used unit or get it custom built and warrantied by the factory.

There are benefits to new and used RVs so my advice to to figure out your budget and look at RVs that fall within it. If you’re buying used, remember to have a budget for repairs or consider buying an extended warranty from a third party company. Also, if you don’t feel comfortable inspecting the RV, hire someone who is. As I mentioned before, every RV (new or used) is going to have issues and the more you can find at the outset, the more you can negotiate the price and have a better understanding of what you’re getting yourself into.

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10 thoughts on “Pros & Cons of Buying a New vs Used RV – Why We’ve Only Had New”

  1. I love to camp and travel. Thanks for sharing the pros and cons of buying a new or used RV. It is truly a great and useful piece of info.

  2. I have enjoyed watching your videos. I have been looking at a Class B motorhome and I have narrowed my choices to the Hymer Atkiv 2.0 with the sofa bed floor plan, the Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL model, the Winnebago Travato GL floor plan or the Winnebago ERA 70B model. Have you done a video WHY you chose the Hymer?

  3. THanks for your videos. My wife and I look forward to them. Going to purchase a Class B next year and have limited th choices to Hymer (Atkiv, Sonne or Sunrise). Love the Atkiv. Also considering a Travato. CHoices are hard. Could you make a video on how you decided the Atkiv over, for example, a Travato?

    Chuck Hyneman

  4. Hi Joe. Just curious, now that you’ve decided to downsize and go class B, do you regret buying the Newmar new? I guess this is where that depreciation hit comes into play.

    • Hey Andy – we don’t regret buying new at all and would do so again. Our RV didn’t depreciate anymore than if we had purchased a new car and sold it a year and a half later. I think depreciation is over estimated by many people who compare the MSRP to the price the RV sells for second hand because MSRP is about 25-30% higher than what you should be paying.

      • Depreciation, like inflation is a silent killer. Buy new if you will keep your vehicle fo 8+ years. Most people are clueless.

  5. Wow!! Saw your info on you tube about
    The Alto Safari Condo/teardrop camper ?
    I have been searching for a place to park, as I travel, a retired senior gramma, from grandchild to grandchildren, Oregon to Nevada and homeless, I am, I wish to park a place, to just regroup, so I after viewing soooo many , this has chimed my senior bells!!!
    If I could somehow, bring this as a place for me, before I pass!! ?
    It is amazing!!!
    I want so dearly to share fun, with my grandchildren, seeing “Nanna” has a place..
    I so enjoy?, to the possibility of nightlight/stars and moon?
    I will continue the struggle, and one day my head, will rest in a place as this!!
    Awesome!! So powerful, process, to make a fun and safe place to just be safe!!

  6. Hi Joe,

    Great video! Now, would you please let me know if after buying the new motorhome you have experienced lots of defects or majir issues. I ask you because you decided to go new and mentioned that could be issues, but you never mentioned during the time you have the motorhome how many and how difficult is being in dealing with nanufactured an dealer tocorrect them.

    • Hey Oscar,

      We only had minor issues with the motorhome and Newmar was great getting those resolved but you have to remember that each RV is different. Where we may have had only minor issues, someone else with our exact make and model RV could have major issues. My best recommendation for buying new is to buy from a company that is willing to stand behind their products and resolve issues big or small.


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