HOW TO BUY THE RIGHT RV: WHAT TO BUY
1. How long has the RV manufacturer been in business?
2. How long under the current management/ownership?
3. Are they a member of RVIA? Do they meet the voluntary standards of the industry?
4. Is the company publicly held? How financially stable?
5. Is the warranty in writing? Can I have a copy? What is not covered under the manufacturers warranty?
6. Does the manufacturer require a formal pre-delivery inspection
procedure to be performed by the dealer? What is done?
What type of orientation is required?
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________7. Does the manufacturer provide detailed information about weights and specifications?
8. Does the manufacturer comply with the RVIA Weight Disclosure Requirement and weigh each unit as well as post the weight sticker?
9. Does the manufacturer document each RV and how it was built with specific engineered blue prints, wiring schematics and materials lists to facilitate repairs and accurate parts procurement?
10. How does the company address safety issues?
11. What design, engineering and testing work is done before a product is built and sold?
12. Which components are built by the RV manufacturer and which are purchased and assembled? Who is responsible for the warranty on each?
13. What parts are proprietary and available only through the
manufacturer’s dealers and which are available from most any
RV industry source?
14. How are major warranty repairs handled? Where do I go for qualified competent service? Does the factory have a service center?
What type of major problem could I encounter?
15. What does the company do to educate owners on required maintenance and proper care and use?
16. Does the manufacturer sponsor an owner’s club or support RV use in any way? If so, how?
17. Does the manufacturer track customer satisfaction? How is this done?
18. Is there an easy way to talk to the factory and voice concerns, get help or provide feedback?
19. Notes & Comments:
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New Or Used?
Based on my experience with thousands of used RVs traded over the years, it is my opinion that the only valid reason to buy a used RV is your budget. If you can, buy new. Only focus on a used RV if that is the sole way an RV fits your budget, and you are unwilling or unable to adjust your budget to make a new RV viable. Used RVs tend to be more expensive in the long run, especially if your goal is to purchase a new one in the next year or two. If your budget says used, be sure you buy it from a reputable dealer—or know exactly what you are getting or giving up. Most used RVs are in need of some repairs. It is the rare used RV that is in excellent condition and requires no work to put it into safe and proper working order. We spend thousands of dollars on repairs to put the typical used RV into safe, useable condition.
Identify A Quality Manufacturer
Over 300 RV brands listed in the NADA RV Appraisal Guide are no longer producing RVs. While some of the manufacturers are still in business, the majority have ceased to exist. This has a dramatic effect on resale values, parts availability and support. There are also new companies trying to gain a toehold in the industry, some with old names. Some make it, and some end up on the defunct list. The manufacturer of the product you choose is another factor to consider in choosing your RV.
Most people do not realize there are very few laws governing the standards for RV construction and operation. Most safety and construction standards are voluntary and are set by the industry itself through the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Manufacturer membership is
voluntary, therefore adherence to all the standards is voluntary. To help insure your RV meets minimum safety and construction standards, be sure the manufacturer is a member in good standing with the RVIA.
History & Reputation
How long has the manufacturer been in business under the same ownership? Do they still build the same products? Are they known as a quality manufacturer? What is their best-known product and what makes it popular? How do the owners of their products feel about them?
Are they nationally distributed? How many plants serve their market? How consistent is the output from plant to plant? Are there regional Service Centers?
Stability & Financial Strength
How strong is the company? Do they have the strength to weather an economic downturn or a costly product recall? You don’t want to be the proud owner of an RV with a serious defect, and find out the manufacturer went into bankruptcy rather than fix it. You can compare the annual reports of publicly held companies. Unfortunately, many RV makers are smaller, privately held firms. Gauging their strength is a very difficult task.
How well do they take care of their RV owners outside normal warranty coverage? Every warranty has gray areas that are subject to interpretation. What is the manufacturer’s philosophy on these situations? The exceptional companies take the RV owner’s point of view and try very hard to solve their problems. Others avoid and ignore. You don’t want to have to resort to legal remedies to get results. Dealing with a manufacturer and dealer who have good working relationships (based on a goal of customer satisfaction) is always your best bet.
Philosophy On Glitz vs. Guts
There are basically two camps of RV manufacturers: producers of glitz
and producers of guts.
Glitz manufacturers are interested in providing dealers with the lowest possible cost and the appearance of the highest possible price. They cut wherever they can (that isn’t likely to be noticed), and funnel as much as they can into what you do see. Shortcuts are taken where you won’t notice, and the goal is for the unit to last one day beyond the warranty period.
Guts manufacturers are interested in building an RV for the long haul; an RV that will outlast the financing terms and still have value. These manufacturers spend more money on things you don’t easily notice such as designs, engineering, testing, and warranty.