Purchasing an RV Camper from a dealer, THIS EVENT is your LAST opportunity…

RV Buying Guide – Advice & Insights

I’m talking about the ALL IMPORTANT Walk-Through

You’ve selected the best RV Camper for your and your families needs, you’ve negotiated the deal, received approval on your financing and set a date to “close the deal.” What remains?

The MOST important activity in the entire RV purchase process remains! The all-important Walk-Through

Why is the walk-through of your camper so important? Because EVEN IF you have plunked down a deposit and received approval on financing on your soon-to-be-your camper, you are NOT (in most states) obligated to go through with the deal UNTIL you sign the purchase documents AND drive it off the dealer’s lot.

how to get the most out of your walk-through when buying a rv camper
Your walk-through is your last opportunity to ensure that you’re buying the right camper for your needs AND it’s in the condition you’re expecting it to be in.

Solid RV Buying Advice: Do the walk-through BEFORE signing any of the closing paperwork at the dealership.

Whether you’re buying a new or used RV camper, you are entitled to a walk-through at most dealerships across the nation. This is your LAST opportunity to ensure that everything is “just so” before YOU own it and your ONLY recourse with issues (and there are OFTEN issues) is to schedule time with a service tech.

Important actions to take and insist upon during a walk-through when purchasing a RV Camper…

The dealer will bill the walk-through as an opportunity for you to learn about your new (or new to you) RV Camper – and it is. It’s also an opportunity for the dealer to sell you lots of necessary accessories. Of course, the dealer has a parts store as part of their dealership – and most of those parts are available to you at full retail price! FYI, I’ve compiled a list of accessories I’ve found quite helpful – and try to get you the best price. You can see my list of accessories HERE.

The most important aspects of your walk-through

Video your walk-through. This will help you to remember what learn and is demonstrated to you. Be sure to ask about winterizing, de-winterizing (and have him show you the levers you need to adjust to perform this without destroying your hot water heater!), leveling, hooking up to a truck and unhooking, along with operating all controls/switches/levers. Know how to connect to “shore power” and if your camper is 50A, how to connect to 30A or even 15A electric – AND the limitations that exist when doing so. It’s a lot to take in and the video will allow you to reflect upon it (literally) down the road.

Test EVERYTHING! This is PARTICULARLY true for used campers as it may be your last chance to have the dealer fix something on their dime. A big area people often overlook is having the camper hooked up to water (city water) AND at least partially filling the fresh water tank.

Once connected, run the water from ALL faucets (including the outside shower) AND open all storage bays to check for any leaks or signs of leaks. Turn off the outside water pressure from the hose connected to the camper and run water from the fresh water tank – check to ensure the water pump is working.

how to buy an RV Camper - tips and tricks
Once you’re “on the road” there are MANY great campgrounds to explore and experience.
View of Starvation Reservoir near Duschene, Utah

Additional checks that are often overlooked

I know you’re excited as you’re about to take possession of your camper, but take your time during the walk-through – it will prove to be time well spent. Here are a few additional things I’ve found that people often overlook –

  • Check the roof! Look for loose material (rubber surface) on the roof, cracks and ANY soft spots.
  • Check the floors and walls for ANY signs of water damage (softness, spongy floors, etc.)
  • Test the hot water heater – it has to be on for at least 20 – 30 minutes to insure water is heating up
  • Test the fridge – also must be on for a while – the freezer section gets cold first AND make sure the fridge switches between electric and propane
  • Disconnect the power and make sure the fridge kicks over to propane and the hot water heater works on propane (you’ll hear it light)
  • Check the air conditioner(s)
  • Check all other components to ensure they work – microwave, tv, stereo, generator (if applicable)

Remember, this is YOUR opportunity to give the camper a THOROUGH inspection and KNOW that you’re NOT committed to the purchase until any and all issues are addressed to your satisfaction. Realize if you’re buying a used camper, there may be some give and take as to what the dealer is willing to address at this time – but again – it’s your LAST opportunity to get something fixed on their dime!

best rv accessories
Click the image to see my recommendations for important RV Accessories

Immediately following the walk-through for your camper…

You’ll visit the dealer’s F&I office and sign out. This transfers the camper to your name. It is at this time when you’ll officially own it. Don’t sign anything UNTIL any necessary repairs identified during the walk-through have been addressed to your satisfaction.

Again, when you drive off the lot, the deal (in most states) is irreversible. There is NO “lemon law” (contrary to what many consumers believe), so, YOU need to be sure you’re getting a camper without any OBVIOUS issues.

Want to work with me to ensure you get the RIGHT camper at the BEST possible price – AND – have a guide-by-your-side through the entire purchase process? Check out my Concierge RV Buying Service HERE.

Have I missed anything? If so, please feel free to comment below!

Oh, and once you’re heading for the open road, here’s a report on two discount campground programs I like and personally use.

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10 thoughts on “Purchasing an RV Camper from a dealer, THIS EVENT is your LAST opportunity…”

  1. Yeah, we don’t plan on living in the snow like you do! 🙂 Maybe 1-2 weeks at longest stay around ski resorts in those colder conditions. We are planning to boondocks with solar at lower elevations most of the year and take the truck into the mountains for activities. That’s the reason for the -R, we plan to have enough solar/battery storage to power. Length wise it’s around 38ft, not short, but not over large like the over 40fts. Grand designs solitude/s-class line has good R-value, curious why you don’t consider them good for four seasons?

    Reply
    • Tonya,

      I look at overall construction and quality of build. R values are meaningless as there is no standard in the industry. You can’t count on them! For example, “pink panther fiberglass insulation”, the R value changes completely as to whether its compressed or not. I look at what’s in the walls (I prefer high density insulating foam), how the roof is designed (a heel-truss design is best) and so on. Grand Design simply is not built as well as Arctic Fox and Outdoors RV (both use shock absorbers on each axle – THAT is a big deal) and oversize fresh water tanks (important for dry camping). Vanleigh is now on board with larger water tanks as well. Alliance seems to have a solid product as well. And… if you’re open to used campers, there’s a number of good choices. I have several clients I’ve worked with that now own Jayco, Carriage, Excel and others. I’m here if you wish to confer over the phone – 307 269 2546. Al

      Reply
      • I see, good information to look out for. Yes, I’ve been watching Alliance RV as well. They have limited sizes and floorplans at this time but they do look promising! We aren’t ready to buy quite yet, still doing a lot of research and hoping to get to walk through more RVs this year. Will reach back out to you if we get overwhelmed! Thank you for your input and your videos/posts!

        Reply
        • Tonya,

          Bear in mind, your best buy is a used camper. Any of the new models WILL depreciate 40% in the 1st 2 years… so in MOST cases, I work with folks to help them get a used camper – which while its 3-6 yrs old – are often in “nearly new” condition. There are definite reasons for this which make buying a used camper a very different experience from buying a used car.

          Al

          Reply
  2. Hi, I am new to the RV buying experience and looking to order a 5th wheel to get all the features we want. How do walkthroughs work if you order an RV? Are you suppose to sign paperwork before the order or after the order? And if it’s before, what happens if there are problems when you pick it up from the dealer? Just want to get advice from a non-dealership to make sure I understand the process. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Tonya,

      I need some specifics here – What RV are you considering ordering (year/make/model)? Are you ordering from a local dealer (local to you) or are you ordering from a discounter located in Southern Michigan/Northern Indiana? What options are you looking at that are not typically found on most campers located on a dealers lot? I will address discount after I get some idea of where you’re heading with this. Alan Sills

      Reply
      • Thanks for the quick reply! Looking at a new 2021 Grand Design 3540gk-r. They don’t even have it on their site yet but local dealers are getting listing them already. But looking at other models, a lot of dealers around here don’t seem to stock dual pane windows, king bed setups, or heat pumps. We plan to travel mountains and snow places as we enjoy hiking and winter sports. Eventually full time living down the road. We would be ordering from a local dealer in WA

        Reply
        • Tonya,

          When you do a special order you need to be aware of a few things – the dealer is likely to want a 10% deposit and will do EVERYTHING in their power to make it NON-refundable regardless of what happens when the trailer shows up. Further, they will NOT guarantee a delivery date – especially now as Grand Design’s factory might be shut down due to the virus so who knows when it will show up! Additionally, you can check off exactly what you want, but, there is NO guarantee it will show up “as ordered.” That is, the factory (for many reasons) MAY change options at THEIR discretion (I’ve seen it happen) and you only learn of it shortly before (or when) it arrives.

          As to discounting, the dealer ALWAYS discounts whats on their lot MORE than what they have to order. This is for 2 reasons – 1) the dealer does NOT get a special discount on a special order; in contrast whats on their lot was typically ordered in the previous fall at an “event” (for dealers) where the manufacturer offers the dealer an incentive to order a certain number of campers. 2) the dealer is motivated to sell what’s on their lot because they already own it OR its “floored” (the bank owns it) and the dealer is paying interest while its sitting on their lot.

          Lastly – I see some other issues with this model (the “R”, the size, the fact that its new – and will depreciate 40% in the 1st 2 years) – I’d love to discuss alternatives with you (I do have a Concierge Buying Service detailed here – rvAcrossAmerica.net/buysell) and see if I can help you find something that HAS the thermopane windows, king bed AND is a TRUE 4 Season as I would NOT rate Grand Design as a top manufacturer in that world. As you may have seen, I have been on the road 9 years now and have spent every winter in the Rocky Mountains so I know who the true 4 season manufacturers are. Feel free to call me at 307 269 2546

          Al

          Reply
    • Brad,

      You *could* hire a local tech, however, with some thought, most people CAN manage this on their own. Part of the experience is to educate you on the care and use of your camper; the other part is to see if there’s any obvious issues that need ‘last minute repair.’ If you hired a tech, it will cost you $200+ and much more if you want actions like checking the wheel bearings, brakes, etc. Ideally, the dealer did this during their pre-purchase check (PDI).

      Reply

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