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RV Industry Expert Says, “Avoid the Big Dealers.”

If you want to get into a new rig this season, you aren’t alone. There are plenty of options when it comes to buying an RV. 

Maybe you want something brand new off-the-lot, or perhaps you’re looking more in the well-loved category. Whatever the case, who you purchase from can have some serious pros and cons. 

Climb aboard with us, and let us guide you through the good, bad, and ugly of a couple of ways to purchase your next RV. 

Let’s ride!

Should You Avoid the Big RV Dealers?

YouTuber Andrew Steele creates content for the RV community and has a big following. One of the reasons for such a solid viewership is his no-nonsense videos. 

A few years ago, he released a video describing reasons to avoid buying from a dealership. Well, avoid it if you don’t want to deal with some of the drawbacks. 

In a recent Camper Report article, author Peggy Dent provides a balanced look at why you might choose to avoid the big dealers. The top reasons to avoid dealers mentioned in the article include price, selection, and pressure. 

Dealers are likelier to have a high markup on vehicles, something you won’t likely find from a private dealer. There’s also a limit to the number of RVs they have on the lot. It’s nice to touch and feel your future ride but not if it means you can’t find what you want. 

Steele points out another reason you might avoid a dealer is the pressure to sell. If the salesman is working on commission, they’re more likely to try shady tactics. Upselling on things you don’t need, selling upgrades you never see, or simply being pushy can ruin the experience. 

Dealers aren’t all bad, though. You can purchase extended warranties for your rig, help with financing, and even get a hot dog for your trouble. 

All jokes aside, if you want a new rig, a dealer is for you. But if you’re in the market for something used, perk up. We’ll talk about other options below. 

Reasons to Avoid Big RV Dealerships

When buying a used RV, a dealership isn’t your best bet. This comes down to a few crucial factors: price, selection, and maintenance. 

Inflating the price of a used RV isn’t a new tactic. Dealerships often take the time to clean up a well-used rig and slap a higher price on it than its worth. 

Especially when working with a limited inventory, your time and money are better spent elsewhere. Dealers markup used RVs between 20 to 30% on average, and that’s money you could use to spruce up your rig!

Because their inventory isn’t as vast, you often won’t find exactly what you want in a used rig. With resources like RVTrader, the power to choose is at your fingertips. 

Why go to a dealer who will rip you off AND have a limited inventory? Private sellers might be further away, but at least you know you can get the make, model, and year you want. Worth it. 

Maintenance reports on used rigs can be spotty, depending on the seller. But, they have already gone through a shake-out, and every RVer knows how important that is. 

When you buy new from the lot, it can take a few hundred dollars for all of the problems in the rig to literally shake out. And while these issues are covered mainly by manufacturer warranties, it’s better to let the previous owner deal with them. Am I right?

Is It Better to Buy an RV From a Private Seller?

If you have discriminating tastes and want exactly what you want, buying from a private seller might be for you. RVTrader usually has around 150,000 vehicles in its database at a given time. That means you have years’ worth of inventory to look through in your search for the perfect adventure machine. 

You’ll also be in a better position to haggle over the rig’s price. Dealers have some wiggle room, but a private seller will likely need the cash. 

With a private seller, you’ll have time to get your own inspection done, get financing, and check Carfax reports. Something else that Steele mentions is the power of knowledge. 

Private sellers usually know every single inch of their rig. They’ve taken good care of it, have maintenance records, and will be happy to tell you about it. 

Relying on their previous experience with the rig gives you important insight into your potential ride. And if a warranty is important to you, you can buy an extended warranty after the fact to protect your investment. 

Why Would I Want to Buy From an RV Dealer?

All that said, there are some reasons to buy from an RV dealer. Even with limited inventory, there are some pros to checking out your local lot. 

The fact that it’s a local lot tells us one important thing. They’re closer in proximity to you. Private sellers can be hundreds or thousands of miles away. Local dealers have their inventory a short drive away. 

That means that even for a used rig, you can put your senses to good use. Getting the “touch and feel” of a rig is a significant factor that shouldn’t be left out.

Local dealers also work with industry-standard pricing guides, so you know you get a fair price. Some private sellers will inflate the price on their used rig to what they think it’s worth. 

Dealers can help you secure financing and clarify warranty questions. And since warranties cover manufacturing issues, dealers are more likely to help you care for them. 

They’ll also help with all the legal paperwork and taxes accompanying purchases like an RV. And if you build a relationship with your local team, they may even help you sell your old rig when ready. 

How Can I Find a Good RV Dealer?

So you’ve decided to buy from a dealer rather than a private individual. The next step is to find a dealer who won’t take advantage of you in the process. There are plenty of ways to inflate prices and interest rates, but the best dealers will take good care of you. 

The most obvious way is to read reviews. Google, Yelp, and Facebook all provide insight into the experience of RVers just like you. 

And don’t discount the experience of friends and family when it comes to dealers. Talk to your people and see who’s doing people dirty and who’ll make sure you leave with a smile on your face. 

Check out the service capabilities of the dealer. If they can get you back on the road quickly when something goes wrong, that’s a huge plus. And if they’re part of a network, so much the better. Out on the road, you want to know that the network has your back.

Other things you should look for are manufacturer certifications and awards. Manufacturers usually recognize the best dealers for excellence. You’ll appreciate that as much as companies do.

Should I Really Avoid the Big RV Dealerships?

In his video, Andrew Steele comes to the same conclusion we do. Buying an RV from a dealer comes down to the buyer themselves. 

If you want a full-service experience and don’t mind paying for it, a dealer is a great choice. But if you think you can find a better deal or just want a specific rig, private sellers are a great option. 

The best thing you can do if you’re in the market for an RV is do your research. Watch the videos, read the reviews, and talk to your friends before you buy. And when you make your choice, invite your buddies along for the ride! 

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