How to Buy a Motor Home
Setting out to buy a motor home can be a daunting task. However, purchasing a motor home will allow you to travel and spend quality time with your significant other and/or family. Before you purchase a motor home, do research to decide what you are looking for. When you shop for a motor home, use as many shopping outlets as possible to find the best deal. When it comes time to finalize your purchase, make sure the motor home is in good condition and you can get it for a reasonable price.
Doing Your Homework
Determine what type of travel you will do.If you plan on taking small weekend camping trips, for example, a trailer or other small motor home may fit your needs. However, if your travel will consist of extended trips lasting multiple weeks or even months, you might consider getting a more full-service motor home (e.g., one with a kitchen, bathroom, and the ability to drive itself).
- Understanding your travel habits will dictate the type of motor home you look for and the features you want it to have.
Figure out which type of motor home fits your needs.Motor homes come in many shapes and sizes. The number of options you have is almost limitless. Generally speaking, most motor homes fall within one of three categories.
- Class A motor homes are the large vehicles containing all the amenities you can think of. These vehicles are best for long distance traveling and large families.
- Class B motor homes, known as camper vans, offer many of the same features as class A motor homes within a smaller, more maneuverable package. Most class B motor homes are built on full-size van chassis and drive like large SUVs.
- Class C motor homes are a cross between class As and class Bs. These motor homes are a little easier to drive than class A motor homes but usually have more amenities and space than class B motor homes.
Ask yourself how big your motor home needs to be.Each category of motor home comes in many different sizes. As a rule of thumb, the longer the motor home will stay in one location, the longer it can be. Longer motor homes are harder to maneuver on the road but are nice to have when they are parked.
- Additionally, smaller motor homes can be increased in size by utilizing outdoor space (e.g., bringing awnings, screen rooms, and folding chairs). If you plan on driving your motor home often, consider a smaller one with quality storage space.
Determine what you want in an interior.The interior of your motor home should match the lifestyle you live. If you are driving the motor home on a lot of dirt roads and campgrounds, having carpet throughout might not be a good idea. However, if you plan on staying at resort-like motor home parks, carpet may be a good option.
- Additionally, make sure your motor home has enough seats with seat belts to accommodate everyone that would ever travel with you.
Identify how much sleeping space you need.Finding a motor home that can sleep everyone in your party comfortably will be important. When thinking about sleeping space, consider the following:
- Dinettes and sofas that are advertised as sleeping spaces are usually meant for children. These sleeping spaces are often small. Make sure you know the dimensions of these sleeping spaces.
- Many beds in motor homes are not standard sizes. Even if they are advertised as queens or kings, they may not actually be. Always get the exact dimensions of the beds when looking around.
- A lot of beds will be situated against walls, which means it can be difficult for people to get out of bed while others are sleeping.
- Bedrooms also need to have ample storage space for clothes and other bedroom essentials. Will closets be big enough to hang clothes freely? Is there enough dresser space to store the rest of your clothes?
Assess your need for a kitchen.If you plan on using the kitchen a lot to cook full meals, maybe a stove and oven are necessary. However, for a lot of people, a simple microwave will be sufficient. In addition to appliances, consider how much storage space you will need.
- Think about foregoing a kitchen altogether. A lot of people never use motor home kitchens because they are grilling outside or eating at restaurants. Don't spend money on a kitchen if you don't plan on using it.
Determine your bathroom needs.Most motor home purchasers either want a large bathroom with a number of amenities or a small bathroom with only the essentials. While some people want things like bathtubs, consider how much hot water you will have access to. Most motor homes have hot water heaters that hold only six to 10 gallons of hot water at a time.
- When doing your research and looking at motor homes, get the dimensions of the bathroom and shower to make sure you can stand and move around comfortably.
Review slideout options.Slideouts are the rooms that slide in to the motor home while you are driving and slide out while you are parked. Slideouts can greatly increase the amount of room you have in your motor home, which can be nice when you have a large family. However, slideouts increase the weight, complexity, and cost of your motor home. Additionally, the cost of maintaining and fixing slideouts can be prohibitively high.
Choose how connected you want to be.If you are using your motor home to get away from the real world and relax without being bothered, you may not need wireless internet and/or satellite television. However, a lot of motor home purchasers will live in their unit for extended periods of time. In these instances, it might be nice to be able to connect to the internet and watch television.
- Whatever your needs are, make sure the motor home you are looking at can accommodate your needs.
Obtain the proper license.Due to the size and maneuverability of motor homes, a lot of states restrict who can drive them. Each state will have different requirements so make sure you check with your state department of motor vehicles for the proper licensing procedures. Generally speaking in order to drive a motor home, you will need to do the following:
- Be over the age of 21
- Get a special class of drivers license or endorsement if your motor home weighs over a certain amount (usually around 15,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating)
- Get a special class of drivers license or endorsement if your motor home is over a certain length (usually around 40 feet or longer)
Shopping for a Motor Home
Rent for a week or two.Renting a motor home will give you an opportunity to drive a large vehicle to determine if you like it. Renting will also allow you to sleep in the motor home and use its amenities to determine what you like and don't like, and what you need and don't need.
- Find a dealer or company that rents motor homes and rent something similar to what you would buy.
Get financed.The cost of a motor home will depend on a limitless number of factors. Although motor homes can be considered a type of vehicle, they are actually more akin to a home. Most motor homes will start at around ,000 but can run into the millions pretty easily.
- To pay for your motor home, consider going to to your bank and asking about financing options. By determining how much money you can get before you shop, you will know exactly how much you can spend.
- Your bank will help you determine the type and amount of loan you can get based on your credit score, income, and banking history.
- Most financing will be through personal unsecured loans. Personal loans often have low, fixed interest rates, which act to lower your monthly payment. Additionally, having an unsecured loan means you will not have to put up your motor home as collateral in order to get the money.
Speak to other motor home owners.Before going anywhere, talk to family and friends that have motor homes. Ask them about their buying experience and how they made their important purchases. Talking to current and previous owners will help you determine what route you will want to take when you purchase yours.
- If you do not personally know anyone with a motor home, find internet chatrooms and online forums where you can talk to other owners.Find these internet sources by conducting quick searches through Google or other search engines (try searching for "RV chatrooms" or "motor home online forums").
Look at new and used motor homes.Motor homes are expensive investments, and because of this, it can often be advantageous to look for both new and used models. While buying a new motor home can be attractive, you can usually find good deals on used motor homes if you know where and how to look.
- When buying a new motor home, your main concern will be negotiating a fair price.
- However, when purchasing a used motor home, you must take much more into consideration. For example, in addition to price, you must also research the motor home's history (e.g., who owned it, how many miles are on it, what condition the motor home is in, and if it has ever been in an accident).
Search online.Start your search online to get an idea of prices before you talk to anyone in-person. Online searches will also give you the ability to search for sales across the country in places you cannot readily visit in-person.
- When you shop online, use reputable websites. For example, try RVT.com, RVzen.com, and CampingWorld.com. These websites will allow you to search listings by make, model, price, and other criteria.
- When you shop online, have someone available to look over the motor home in-person. Be prepared to travel a long distance to pick up your purchase. If you cannot travel, you might be able to pay someone to transport the motor home to you.
Visit motor home shows.Motor home shows usually take place in huge convention centers and parking lots during the spring, summer, and fall months. During these shows, motor home manufacturers will bring a number of models and park them for people to look through. These shows offer a great opportunity for you to see all the different styles in one place. Additionally, because the manufacturers will be physically present, you will be able to get all of your questions answered by the most knowledgeable individuals.
Go to motor home dealers.Different dealers will have different manufacturers and models on hand. Like car dealerships, motor home salespeople will usually greet you immediately to try and make a sale. Do not get intimidated or pressured into buying something. Take as much time as you need and visit as many dealerships as you need.
- When buying from dealerships, be firm but respectful. Do your research ahead of time and be prepared to walk away if you do not get a reasonable price. Tell the salesperson what you are willing to spend on a certain model and stick to it.
Shop directly with the manufacturer.Most manufacturers will have websites where you can look through all the models available and customize them to your needs.The websites may even discuss the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), which can help you determine what your motor home might cost.
Finalizing the Purchase
Check to see if the manufacturer is still in business.While some parts of the motor home will be made by third parties, a lot of the doors, siding, trim pieces, and bumpers are made by the manufacturer. If the manufacturer is out of business, you may not be able to get replacement parts should you ever need them.
Test-drive the motor home.When you test-drive the motor home, take it on the type of roads you plan on using it on. For example, if you plan on driving on a lot of dirt roads, test-drive the motor home on dirt roads. If you plan on driving on the highway a lot, test-drive it on the highway.
- Make sure the mirrors are in good working order and make sure your blind spots are manageable. If you do not feel comfortable driving the motor home, you will not likely use it.
Weigh the motor home.The weight of a motor home is extremely important as it will dictate the type of license you need, what roads it can be driven on, where it can be taken, and the likely cost of maintaining it. When you are test-driving the motor home, take it somewhere to have it weighed. Ideally, the motor home should be weighed at all four wheels. At the very least, each axle should be weighed.
- Compare the weight of the motor home to the manufacturer's recommendations.
- Also, consider whether the motor home is empty or full. A loaded motor home can add hundreds of pounds and can greatly affect how the motor home operates and performs.
Inspect the motor home.Ask the shop to look the motor home over to make sure everything is in good condition. In addition to checking the wheels, brakes, lights, engine, and transmission, ask to have the chassis looked at as well. You want to make sure the chassis year matches the motor home year, and you also want to make sure the chassis isn't bent.
Factor in maintenance costs.Like any vehicle, your motor home will have to be serviced on a regular basis to make sure it stays in good condition. Some motor homes will have higher maintenance costs than others. For example, motor homes with a lot of electronics and other bells and whistles will usually cost more to service than other motor homes without those features. In addition, some service stations will not be able to service the motor home you have.
- Therefore, take the motor home to your local service shop and ask whether the motor home can be serviced there and, if so, how much routine maintenance is likely to cost.
Negotiate an acceptable price.Start by gathering important financial information, which will include how much financing you have been offered by your bank and how much cash you have on hand for a down payment. Next, collect information that will help you negotiate with a salesperson. This information will include comparable prices at other dealerships, online prices, and MSRPs. Take this information to the salesperson and make a reasonable offer. Negotiating the price of a motor home is very similar to being able to Negotiate Car Price.
- In all likelihood, the salesperson will try to get the most for the motor home as is possible. Make sure you have a walking away price that you will not go above. If the salesperson is unwilling to part with the motor home for an agreeable price, be willing to walk away.
Finalize the purchase.If a price can be agreed upon, shake hands with the salesperson and make the purchase. You will have to sign a contract executing the purchase, so make sure you understand exactly what you are signing. If you have any concerns, do not finalize the sale until you have talked to someone about your concerns. This might include asking a lawyer for help.
Get insured.Motor home insurance will usually be offered by the same insurance company that offers car insurance. Call the company you have other insurance policies with and ask for a motor home quote.
- Most motor home policies will help cover collisions, fires, hail, animals, vandalism, and low branches and overhangs. Additionally, with some additional coverage, you might be able to protect your attachments, including awnings, satellite dishes, and TV antennas.
Video: Buying A Used Motorhome - Dont Make These Mistakes
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