When Is the Best Time to Buy an RV?
Shop during these times of year for the best deals on RVs
You’re finally ready to answer the call of the wild, but you’re still a little nervous about what investing in an RV might do to your bank account. (Namely, deplete it.) For most people, an RV provides the perfect balance between enjoying the great outdoors and having all the creature comforts of home. But buying an RV can be a pricey proposition for most folks. So if you want to save money, you need to be aware of the best time to buy an RV.
Just as there’s a best time to buy a car and an ideal time to invest in tires, there’s a best time to buy just about anything, RVs included. Why trust Reader’s Digest with such a large purchase? We tapped RV experts for insider tips and researched RV buying to help you find great deals that’ll leave more money in your wallet for your big trip—though you’ll probably want to learn how to save money on gas too.
What time of year do RVs go on sale?
The best time to buy an RV is during the off-season, which occurs at the end of the year. That’s when you’re most likely to find deals that’ll save you big bucks.
How much do RVs typically cost?
Before you can get an accurate price estimate, you need to know what type of RV you want to buy. Because there are so many types of RVs—Class A, B and C motor homes, not to mention the tow-behind options—the costs vary wildly. A brand-new, top-of-the-line Class A motor home could set you back more than $200,000, while an entry-level travel trailer may run about $15,000 or so. You can get even better deals buying used, either from a dealer or a private seller.
But that’s not all. You’ll also need to think about any potential additional costs after you drive the RV off the lot. That includes fuel and other costs associated with living in an RV.
When is the best time to buy an RV or travel trailer?
Now that you know ballpark figures on RV prices, when is the best time to buy an RV? Well, that depends. Are you more concerned with having the best selection of vehicles or getting the best price? Dealers typically are at peak inventory during the spring and summer months, when demand is highest.
When the temperatures drop during the fall and winter months, so do the prices. October and November are probably your best bets for being able to strike a good deal with the most choices remaining, says Rachel Heseltine, vice president of consumer growth for RV Trader.
Buying an RV or travel trailer in the days or weeks before a major summer holiday, like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, can be tricky. Some dealers will run sales to bring in customers, while others will raise prices, knowing those are typically very active camping weekends.
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When is the worst time to buy an RV?
If you’re looking to save money, avoid RV shopping during the spring and summer. You may find the widest selection of RVs, but you’ll also notice higher prices.
Three tips for saving when buying an RV
Beyond shopping at the end of the year, there are a few things you can do to save more on your next RV.
- Get connected. Phil Ingrassia, president of the RV Dealers Association, suggests following local RV dealers on social media or subscribing to dealers’ e-newsletters for special sales and offers.
- Shop around. After you decide on the RV make and model you want, search around the country using an internet marketplace, like RV Trader, for the best price. Some buyers have actually saved money by flying several states away, buying their dream RV and then driving it back home.
- Buy during an off-season RV expo. Many major metropolitan areas have large RV trade shows at the local fairgrounds or convention centers to show off the latest and greatest models for the upcoming years. But you can also score great deals on show specials, oftentimes last year’s models that need to be moved before new inventory comes in.
Buying a new vs. used RV
As with car buying, the hunt for an RV begins with one of the biggest choices you’ll make: to purchase used or new.
“With new units, you get the peace of mind that comes with warranties, availability of parts and [presumably] easier repairs,” Heseltine says. “Buying used, however, can save you money up front, gives you greater inventory options [and] more design variety, and can depreciate less, meaning greater resale value.”
Tech-savvy drivers may appreciate the latest and greatest updates that come in new models, while DIY types might be content with fixing up an older RV until it’s exactly as they like it.
Another thing to consider is how much use your RV will get. Will you take it for a spin a few times a year, or do you plan to live in your RV year round? Think, too, of how long you plan to own the RV. “A newer unit could give you more years before major repairs are needed,” she says. “But if you are new to the lifestyle and a little unsure how long you plan on RVing, buying used is probably a better option.”
Tips for buying a new RV
Decided on a new model? Take these steps to ensure you get the product you want at a price you like:
- Research ahead of time. Before you head to the dealer, narrow down your search to two or three models. “Know the details and value behind the RV you are interested in beforehand,” Heseltine says. “Maintain your specific budget, and a big part of that means being willing to walk away.”
- Negotiate. If you can’t get the dealer to budge on price, ask for a no-cost extended warranty, discounts on needed (and often expensive) accessories and upgrades, a lower interest rate and so on.
- Hold out. If you must buy an RV during the high season, wait to shop until the end of the month. There’s no cheapest day of the week to buy an RV, but salespeople have quotas to make, and they might be more willing to cut you a deal if they’re trying to make theirs for the month.
Tips for buying a used RV
If you love the idea of saving even more money on your new vehicle, used is a smart option. But do your due diligence to make sure you don’t end up broken down on the side of the road before you ever get to your destination.
- Ask for the maintenance records. There are two reasons to ask for these: First, they provide evidence that the RV has been well maintained. And second, owners who keep meticulous records of oil changes and major repairs most likely were meticulous about the entire vehicle’s upkeep.
- Always pay for an inspection. Make sure you’re not buying someone else’s headache. You’ll pay around $400 for an inspection, but it can save you money in the long run, either by giving you an opportunity to negotiate the price down or forcing you to walk away from an RV with major issues that’ll end up costing you later.
- Be prepared to get your hands dirty. If you’re mechanically inclined, it might be worth buying an older, cheaper RV that needs minor repair work. It’s a risk—especially if you need to find discontinued parts—but it could save you thousands of dollars. But tinkering without any knowledge of RV maintenance could end up shortening the life of your RV.
Where can you buy an RV or a travel trailer?
You can find RV dealers all over the country. Heck, there are probably a few within 20 minutes of your home. (There’s a directory on the National RV Dealers Association website.) You’ll also find a cornucopia of options from private sellers, either on RV Trader, Facebook Marketplace or another online option.
Keep reading for some key questions about RV buying—and expert-backed answers.
Will RV prices come down in 2022?
Our experts disagreed a bit on this one. Heseltine believes demand will stay strong throughout the year, while Ingrassia’s industry contacts anticipate “pricing pressures to ease.” In other words, don’t determine the best time to buy an RV based on what might happen in the future.
Do you haggle when buying an RV?
You can always try to haggle when buying an RV, but demand remains so high right now that the salesperson will likely have no problem finding someone willing to pay full price for a vehicle. Still, while there are etiquette rules of RV camping, there’s no rule against negotiation when purchasing your vehicle.
How much can you talk down an RV?
It depends on a lot of factors, including the RV model and the time of year. There’s no guarantee you can talk the seller into a lower price, so it’s better to have a budget in mind and stick to it, then look for ways to save in other areas, such as by finding free overnight parking on camping trips.
Saving money on RVs
In the end, though, it may be smarter to focus less on the best time to buy an RV and more on why you want to buy an RV in the first place. It’s great to save a few bucks, but the memories you’ll make will be priceless.
After you finally drive that new (or used) RV off the lot, where will you go first? Check out our list of the best RV parks in every state.
- Rachel Heseltine, vice president of consumer growth for RV Trader
- Phil Ingrassia, president of the RV Dealers Association