10 Questions RV Buyers Should Ask Before Making a Decision

WARNING: shopping the internet for a new RV can be hazardous to your wallet!

Most RV dealers have a website. These websites can help RV owners look for their next recreational vehicle and help first-time buyers browse through a seemingly inexhaustible supply of new and used travel trailers, fifth wheels and motorhomes.

If you shop for a new RV on the internet and you make a buying decision based solely on the lowest price you find for the make and model you want... be very careful. You may not be comparing apples to apples.

The late economist Milton Friedman coined the phrase "There is no free lunch." That is a truism that extends to the purchase of an RV.

When a dealer orders a new RV from the factory, he (or she) can choose from several features and options to include or exclude. In order to make a truly educated decision you should compare the features and options included in each of the RVs you are considering.

More often than not detailed information about each model is not available on a dealer's website. So, you must call or email the dealer with your questions.

1. The first thing to ask is for a copy of the unit's "MSRP sheet."
(WARNING: Some RV manufacturers do not provide a MSRP sheet)

The MSRP sheet - Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price - what we might refer to as the "factory window sticker," should include each standard and optional item included in that particular unit. It also shows the MSRP. Obtain these from each dealer you are considering. Now you can compare apples to apples.

In addition to the MSRP sheet ask the following questions.

2. Is the unit's MSRP listed on the website the same as on the MSRP Sheet?

On occasion we've had a customer come in with information from another dealer's website. We find it very strange that this dealer would sell the same make and model RV at a lower price than our cost yet, advertise an MSRP higher than the factory MSRP. What do you think is going on here?

3. How many BTUs is (are) the roof air conditioner(s) rated?

Not too long ago we lost a sale on a new travel trailer to a dealer south of us. That dealer sold the customer the same make and model unit that we stocked, but that dealer sold the unit for about $350 less than we could.

A while later the customer came to us for service complaining that he could not get the air conditioner to cool down the coach. Our Service Manager examined his a/c unit and found it to be only 11,000 BTUs; too small to cool his 25 foot trailer even in north Georgia where he lives. If he would have paid $350 for our trailer, he would have 13,500 or higher BTU air conditioner. It cost that customer far more than $350 to replace his underpowered air conditioner.

4. Are window awnings included in the advertised price?

Window awning help cool an RV in hot, sunny weather. They usually don't come as standard equipment and most dealers probably don't install them unless ordered by the customer. So, if the unit you're considering includes window awnings in the advertised price, that's a consideration.

5. Is a slide awning included in the advertised price?

Slide-outs add many usable square feet of living space to an RV. However, the roof of the slide-out, when extended, collects falling branches, leaves, pine cones, seed pods and whatever else falls from above. If your slides are not equipped with awnings then you have to clean off the slide roof every time you want to close the slide. A slide awning protects the slide from debris and therefore, makes your RVing experience more enjoyable.

Most of our RVs are ordered with slide awnings and yes, the cost is included in our advertised price.

6. Does the advertised travel trailer include a powered front jack?

It costs a dealer less to order a trailer with a manually operated (hand crank) front jack. For easier setup and hookup we order many of our travel trailers with a powered front jack.

7. How many TVs are included in the advertised price?

This may sound silly, but some trailers may be delivered without a TV. There is always a TV in our units. Sometimes two!

8. Do you charge a Dealer Prep Fee or anything similar in addition to the advertised price?

We never charge a Dealer Prep Fee or any fee other than the required tax and tag fees required by the state of Florida.

9. Do you thoroughly check the gas and water systems before delivery?

Our PDI (Pre Delivery Inspection) Technicians check all gas appliances. First, the LP tanks are filled at no additional charge to the customer. Then, the technician checks for any possible leaks in the system. They fire off each appliance and adjust the stove top burners, the water heater burner, the furnace burners and the refrigerator burner as needed.

The PDI technician will connect a water hose to the city water inlet and test the faucets, toilet, shower and ice maker, if so equipped. He will also test the refrigerator on gas and electricity.

But wait, there's more...

The tech will also check all interior and exterior lights. He will then check each wheel to see that the bearings are adjusted properly.

10. Do you check the wheel bearings and Tire pressure before delivery?

At JD Sanders RV Gainesville every new RV goes through an extensive PDI. In addition to the items discussed in the previous question, our technicians check to see that the wheel bearings are adjusted properly and that the tires have to recommended cold air pressure.

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