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Where To Look For Used RVs

"You Can Get Great Deals On A Used RV If You Know Where To Look"

Where To Look For Used RVs

By Alan Wiener 
(RVing Al)

You want to look at used RVs, but you have questions.  In this section of EARV we are going to answer some of the most frequently asked question about purchasing a used RV.

You should have already reviewed the Pros and Cons of buying a used RV.  Now that you understand these Pros and Cons, lets answer some of your questions. 

IMPORTANT:  Regardless of which method you choose to buy a used RV, it is important if at all possible to perform a used RV Inspection.  I feel that it is so important that I have dedicated a whole section of the website to it.  Before you go any further you may want to read Is an RV Inspection needed before Buying a Used RV?

Below we have listed some of the places that you can find used RVs.

RV Dealerships 

Depending on what type of RV you are considering, and where you live, this is a good source to start with. Most RV dealerships have trade in RVs from their customers that are upgrading or moving to a different type of RV.  If you live in a metropolitan area, you will probably have several dealers to choose from.

Some RV dealerships may only carry Motor Homes, others may only carry Trailers.  Some dealerships may not carry previously- owned RVs at all. The larger the dealership, the larger the selection of  RVs.

If you live in a rural area, you may have to travel many miles to find a RV dealership.  Where you live pretty much dictates what you have to choose from. If you do live in one of these rural areas you can use the internet to look up the closest dealerships and see what kind of used RV inventory they have.

Obviously looking at used RVs on the internet is not the same as physically walking through one, but it will give you a basic idea if they have anything that peaks your interest.  Some of the dealerships may include pictures of their used RVs on their web site. 

Looking at pictures on the internet will not answer the question of whether you will actually fit in the bathroom.  When it comes time to buy, you are going to have to take a road trip.

One thing to remember about purchasing new or used RVs from a dealership is that the price is negotiable.  This topic is so important, that we have dedicated a whole section to it.  In fact, we enlisted the help of an "expert negotiator", my wife.  My Wife's Negotiation Tips will help you get the best deal possible.

RV Auctions

There are two types of RV Auctions

Online Auctions:  These auctions take place on the internet on sites such as eBay etc.  The sellers of these RVs can be private individuals who are selling their personal RV as well as dealerships selling both new and used RVs from their inventory. 

Every type of RV you can imagine is available on-line.  If you want to buy used RVs such as a Class A Bus Conversion or a Tent Trailer, they are available.  You can also get some really good deals if you know what you are doing.  If you have to arrange financing for your purchase of new or used RVs you can do that at these auction sites as well. 

These online auction sites require that you register with them before you can bid on items or list items with them.  If you are planning to bid on used RVs online, you need to know a couple of facts about online auctions. 

There are several ways an RV could be listed.  Some used RVs may have a reserve price on them, in other words there will be a minimum price that the seller will accept.  If that price is not met, the RV will not be sold. 

Some RVs will have a buy it now price.  A buy it now price is for those individuals that really want the RV and do not want to go through the bidding process. 

Then there are the pure auctions, simply stated it means the highest bidder wins. There are time limits on all of these auctions, once the time expires bids will no longer be accepted.

You can take a look at the types of deals that you can get on RVs at eBay by clicking on the links below.  All of the links below will open in a new window, so please turn off your Pop-Up Blocker.

Motorhomes for sale on eBay

5th Wheel Trailers for sale on eBay

Travel Trailers for sale on eBay

Tent Trailers for sale on eBay

There is also a downside to these on-line auctions.  The main downside is that you could live in California and be bidding on a RV located in Florida.  Unless you are physically planning on going to Florida before you bid on the RV, you are basically buying it sight unseen (except for the pictures that are available on the site). 

If this is a new RV that is being sold online by a dealership in Florida, you could always go to a California RV Dealer that sells the same make and model and do a walk through there ( just remember you will probably be approached by a salesperson who will want you to buy it from their dealership).  

For used RVs, you are going to have to trust that the individual or dealer selling it is being up-front about it's actual condition.

The other downside, is once you have bought it you are responsible for picking it up from wherever it happens to be.  That means you have to go there yourself or arrange through a separate company to transport it to you. 

Both of these options will incur additional cost in either flying or driving out to where it is or paying a transport company to bring it to you.  You need to keep this additional cost in mind when bidding on these RVs.  It may turn out that this great online deal may cost you more in the long run.

Remember when buying any RV this way it is "Buyer Beware".  This is not meant to scare you off from making a RV purchase online.  After all, most of us purchase items off of the internet all of the time.  You just have to be aware that there could be some problems purchasing used RVs this way.

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On-Site Auctions: These are the more traditional types of auctions that have been around for decades.  You go to the auction site and in most cases you are given the opportunity to view the RVs that are going up for bid that day. 

Soon after viewing a very loud person with a gavel comes out and starts the bidding.  Again, if you know what you are doing, you can get some excellent deals on these RVs.  It all depends on who you are bidding against for the RV you want. 

One of the most important things you should do before you place your first bid is decide the maximum amount you are willing to pay for the RV you are going to bid on.  Once you start bidding DO NOT BID OVER THE MAXIMUM PRICE YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY.  We say this because you may get caught up in the excitement of the bidding war and overbid (simply because you do not want to be defeated by the person that is bidding against you). 

One key thing to remember is that when the bidding is done and you have won, you are required to give them the money usually the same day.

Where do these used RVs being auctioned off come from?  It depends on what type of auction you are at.  Some auctions are for private sellers selling their personal RVs.  Some are bank auctions that are selling repossessed RVs.  Some are government auctions where you could be bidding on an RV that was once owned by a now incarcerated local drug kingpin (lucky you if you happen to acquire one of them). 

They could be RVs that were previously salvaged after an accident or traded in to an RV dealership for another RV, but they were in such bad shape that the dealership did not want to sell them on their used RV lot.  Some auctions can be any combination of the above sources of RVs

The bottom line is that these RVs are all sold AS -IS!   What you got is what you got, there is no warranty, there is no guarantee that they are even mechanically capable of being driven off of the auction lot.

Again, this is not meant to scare you off, it is just to keep you aware of some of the pitfalls you may encounter when purchasing an RV from a On-Site Auction.

RV Shows

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If you are seriously thinking about buying a used RV, these RV shows are the places to do it.  Most of these shows have a wide selection of used RV types as well as a lot of different models and manufacturers. At these shows, the RV dealers are competing against each other to sell you an RV (this is good for you). RV shows give you the opportunity to walk through the used RVs and compare what each manufacturer offers.

Just like RV Dealerships, there are large and small RV shows.  The larger the show, the better chance you have of getting a better deal. 

The largest show in the U.S. is in Hershey, Pennsylvania every September.  Yes, this is the same place that Hershey's Chocolate is made.  In fact, this show is so large that I suggest you eat a lot of Hershey's Chocolate before attending.  You will need a sugar-high and a good pair of walking shoes to make it through all of the RVs on display.  You won't be able to see it all in one day.

Even if you already own an RV, you should attend one of these Recreational Vehicle Shows.  They have tons of exhibitors that are selling RV Accessories at a discount.

Private Sellers

Of the eight RVs that our family has owned over the past 40+ years, six of them were bought from private sellers.  All six of them were purchased at great prices and served us well over the years that we used them. 

The main advantage of buying an RV from a private seller is getting to meet the individuals that own them.  We had the opportunity to find out directly from the owners how they were maintained and more importantly, why they were selling them.

The best way you can locate RVs that are for sale by their owners is either by looking in your local newspapers classified section or by going to on-line classifieds that can be sorted by listing area.  Once you have found some RVs that have peaked your interest, call the owners and make an appointment to see the RVs. 

When you actually meet the owners talk to them and find out if they are the original owners.  Find out how they have maintained the RV over the years.  Ask to look at maintenance records etc. 

The most important question to ask the owner is why they are selling their RV. If they tell you that they are buying a newer RV or going from a Travel Trailer to a 5th Wheel this is a positive sign.  Why? because they have adopted the RVing lifestyle and want to continue RVing.  This statement and the condition and the maintenance on the RV is proof that they care about it. 

Another question to ask is how long have you been RVing.  Long-time RVers understand what it is like to buy and own RVs and again the longer they have been RVing the more positive it is that the RV is in good condition.  A lot of this is gut instinct on how you perceive these people and there statements.

As you can see there are many sources for purchasing a used RV.  You have to pick the sources that work well for you.

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