10 mistakes we made buying our first RV!

#10 – We didn’t go on a short trip immediately upon leaving the dealership

When you first purchase an RV, motorhome, travel trailer, etc., you really need to head out on a very short trip to a local camping spot in the first days. There is a high chance that there are at least some issues with your rig. We noticed several small things right away on our first night in Millie, our rig. We had to go back to Camping World with notes. Most of the issue were resolved right away, but the biggest issue that took some time to resolve was the installation of the wrong breaker box. This lead to so many other smaller problems. Because we caught it fairly quickly, the dealership was happy to fix those issues for free. However, we wish that we hadn’t waited three weeks to go on our first outing. We should have gone that first week. Those delays in ordering parts and sorting out problems nearly eliminated our big summer California trip!

#9 Listening to the endless sales pitches

The dealerships make a ton of money on all the extras they want to sell you after you’ve picked your dream rig. From extended warranties and insurance to special clearcoat protectant and additional gadgets, they will spend hours convincing you that you absolutely must have all of these things. We should have known in advance that all of these sales tactics were going to waste hours of our time. In the end, we did not buy any of these things! And we feel like we made the right decision. Of course, you have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself. When you get to the dealership and decide on a purchase, ask in advance for all the paperwork. Take it all home and research it on your own time without the hard-core sales pitch wasting away your day.

#8 Buying the best sway system

It is something easy to skip over. It’s something you will try to convince yourself that you do not need. You will be wrong. The best investment you can make right away is buying a good sway system. You might be tempted to go with a cheaper system with chains. Don’t do it. Spend the money and get something really good especially if you are planning for long hauls.

#7 Bring “extras” from home instead of buying so much STUFF!

You will need to make lots of notes about the things you need and several trips to the store. Or, like us, sometimes, you have two sets of items at home that you can just move permanently to the rig like extra coffee cups or towels. However, other items you are likely going to purchase for the new home away from home! Think of everything you can at home that might be extras.

We had an extra TV, that wasn’t really being used, and we had some tailgating chairs that we could leave in the rig permanently. We were able to utilize lots of items from home, but it took us a few months to get that sorted out.

PS – Movie night under the stars is the best thing ever!

#6 Budget for additional purchases

Talk to anyone about their first purchase. The amount of random stuff you will need can become overwhelming at first. Don’t worry about it. You will slowly accumulate all of the things you need to make your trips go as planned. Honestly, half the fun is settling in and figuring out how you will use your space. People certainly spend a lot on things that are so random like command strips and comfortable chairs for outside.

#5 Don’t buy harsh chemical laden cleaning supplies!

Your space will be pretty small, especially compared to your house. If you fill it with harsh chemicals, then every time you clean it ruins the air for several hours. You’ll feel like you were living in a bleach bottle. Spend the extra money and get plant-based cleaning materials. Keeping your living space sanitary is of upmost importance in your space, so this is simply not an area to try to save a few cents. We learned the hard way!

We like these:

The geranium scent is seriously amazing. We think it is new as we haven’t seen it in the past. It is freaking amazing. Your RV will smell incredible and feel squeaky clean without the chemical overload burning your eyes and nose!

#4 Take tons of notes during your walk through!

After your purchase, you will be so excited to get on the road that it might be hard to pay attention during your walk-through. Just like when you buy a house, someone will take you through a basic but thorough overview of your new purchase. We really wish we would’ve either videoed the whole thing or taken better notes. While Brian had more experience with the various components, this was all very new to Candace.

#3 Learn about your waste systems BEFORE you go!

At the dealership, they will probably have a store of some kind where you can stock up on some basic items you will definitely need for your first trip. However, the prices will certainly be at a premium. We find good deals everywhere, but Amazon can certainly be a great go to resource for you. Of course, some items are luxuries that you don’t really need. One exception though are items related to your waste system. You must have a long RV septic hose and septic cleaner!

Here is our septic hose:

Here is our favorite septic cleaner:

#2 Thoroughly research your vehicle’s towing capacity!

While Candace’s Ford F-150 King Ranch EcoBoost can technically pull the travel trailer, we think it is at (or close to) a max capacity. Our fear is that this is eventually going to wear out the truck.

We love a big long road trip, so this is really pushing the truck every time we go across the country. If we were just going to stay in our region, then we are confident it would be absolutely fine. An F250 is probably a better option for us. Just be sure you really evaluate your vehicle’s capacity. Remember, the people at the dealership are trying to sell you an RV, so you definitely need to independently verify their advice. 

#1 Read reviews of the dealership, RV brand, and service department

We were on a tight budget, so that really limited our options. We decided to go with a new unit instead of buying something used because we were just not that confident about our ability to evaluate a used RV. We shopped around a bit, but ultimately price made our decision for us. We purchased our Coleman Lantern Bunkhouse at Camping World! We got an amazing deal at just under $20,000. However, the dealership near our house has terrible reviews in the service department. Unfortunately, we did not know this going into our purchase. Ultimately, we might have chosen the same one anyway just because the price was so good. However, we would’ve been more prepared dealing with slow response times and poor evaluation of issues. In the end, they really have taken care of us. But we have to really be on top of the process. Luckily, Brian is very knowledgeable and is able to troubleshoot and resolve most issues on his own.

Published by brawnerology

We are family living in Texas, who LOVE to travel. We have been all over Europe, Asia, and Central America. Now, we are heading throughout the US with our children!

11 thoughts on “10 mistakes we made buying our first RV!

  1. This is a great article. with all the RV shows coming up now and in the next couple months, it will be very helpful to people considering a purchase. I also wrote a recent post about our RV purchase in the initial outlay for all of the extras a year ago. I agree with all your points. The day we brought our trailer home, we can’t at a place 5 minutes from our home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We learned some of the same things the hard way. Since we purchased a used RV, we did purchase the extended warranty, and have used it several times. But lots of great tips here. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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