10 things to know before buying your rv

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8057 AIRLINE DRIVE ? METAIRIE, LA 70003 ? 504-738-2368 ? FAX 504-738-2601 14412 Highway 90, Boutte, LA 70039 ? 985-758-2368 ? FAX 985-758-2601

10 Things to Know Before Buying your RV

We offer these 10 Items to consider that will help you make better informed RV buying decisions.

1) Type of RV

Know which type of RV is right for you and your family before you buy.

RV's come in numerous types, sizes and price ranges. Know which type of RV is right for you and your family and what price fits your budget. Take the time to research your specific needs, and how you plan to use the RV. If you plan to travel cross-country in the RV a motorized RV might make more sense than a towable RV. If you plan to go camping in the backwoods, off the beaten trail, a pop up or truck camper would probably make more sense. Below is a list of the types of RV's and a description for each.

Pop-Up Trailer

Small in size (although some can sleep six), the pop-up is the smallest, lightest member of the trailer family, and the most economical to own, with prices starting as low as $8,000.

The smallest versions can be towed safely with a minivan and are the easiest to park.

A pop-up trailer doesn't actually pop up. Rather, the hard roof rises on telescoping metal legs and then the bed trays, with canvas sides attached, slide out from the front and back. Amenities can include a small kitchen, shower and toilet.

Pop-ups are a terrific way to get your feet wet in RVing without putting out a lot of money. They're also great for weekend trips and occasional longer trips by determined families.

Travel Trailers

A big advantage of travel trailers is their lightweight but sturdy construction that makes them towable by standard pickup trucks, SUVs and even some minivans.

Travel trailers range in size from mini "teardrop" units of about 12 feet, to 33-foot triple axle giants. The newest generation models offer much, including designer-grade interiors, slide-outs, bunk beds for the troops, built-in generators...even satellite TV.

Most in this class can sleep up to six, and prices range from $10,000 to nearly $70 grand. A big plus for the travel trailer: you can leave it at the campsite and take the tow vehicle out to explore.

One important consideration is to make sure your tow vehicle can safely pull the unit you decide on (including all your gear), because there's nothing sadder than not being able to pull your new rig over the next hill.

Fifth-Wheel Trailer

The fifth-wheel trailer gets its name from the large hitch pin that attaches the trailer to a special mount in the bed of a heavy-duty pickup truck. This arrangement makes the fifth-wheel trailer more stable to pull than a comparably sized travel trailer, since a good portion of the fifth wheeler is above the truck's rear axle as opposed to hanging off a trailer hitch behind the truck. The fifth-wheel trailer is also easier to back up into a campsite than a conventional travel trailer.

Excellent for long distance travel or a run to the local mountains, fifth-wheel trailers can range in size from 25 to 46 feet long. And because of their generous size, it's critical that your truck be able to pull the load safely.

SURV Trailer

The newest member of the trailer family, the Sport Utility RV is often referred to as a "Toy Hauler" because of the garage area built into the rear. This space can be used for hauling motorcycles, quad runners, and personal watercraft, and is separated from the rest of the trailer by a solid wall and an access door.

Once your "toys" have been unloaded at your site using the built-in ramp, the garage can then be used for storage or as additional sleeping space.

Keep in mind the weight of your toys and the towing capacity of your vehicle when considering an SURV for purchase.

Class A Motorhomes

What most people think of when they think of motorhomes. These palatial rolling estates feature just about any amenity you can imagine and are ideal for long distance travel, a sizeable family and living in style.

It's not unusual to find these big rigs outfitted with captain's chairs in the cockpit, a living room with large sofa, dining table and HDTV, complete kitchen with granite countertops, full-size refrigerator, oven, stove, microwave...even a dishwasher.

Further back, there's a complete bathroom with real shower and flushing toilet. And many units also offer a washer and dryer. At the rear is the master bedroom with queen size bed and plenty of closet space.

Many Class A's come equipped with as many as five slide-outs...those extra rooms that electrically extend from the street and curb side walls to give you even more space. Plus, there are cavernous storage compartments below deck (often called the "basement") that provide enough room for anything you might need on a l-o-n-g vacation.

No surprise, Class A motorhomes are the most expensive, with prices generally starting at about $60,000 for a basic model to custom beauties that sport price tags well over $1 million.

Class B Motorhomes

More commonly known as Camper Vans, Class B motorhomes offer many of the features and craftsmanship of Class A's, just in a smaller, more maneuverable package.

Using a full-size van as its foundation, a Class B motorhome can provide you with many of the comforts of home such as a compact bathroom, small kitchen and a TV. Ideal for 2 to 3 travelers and suitable for multiweek trips, the Class B is akin to driving a large SUV.

Class C Motorhomes

A cross between Class A's and Class B's, you see a lot of Class C rigs rolling around the country during the summer as it's a popular unit to rent.

Generally easy to drive, yet with enough sleeping room for the family, the C class can range from a petite 20 feet to an ambitious 40 feet, putting the latter in the same league as the Class A but with a smaller price tag. Plenty of features, including some with slide-outs, make it a good choice for a long weekend or weeks away from home.

2) What Type of Camping or Travel Will I Do?

For many, a camping adventure can be as brief as a weekend, while others will opt for a few weeks at a time. And for the more enthusiastic (and fortunate) "full-timers," a real road trip is nothing less than several months...or forever!

Other considerations to keep in mind are who will be traveling with you and how many "essentials" you'll be taking

3) New Vs. Used?

This is a major consideration to give some thought to before you purchase an RV. To assist you with making this decision consider how you plan to use the RV and what your budget is. If you only plan to take a couple of weekend trips, or use it for one week out of the year, a used RV might be best for you. And, it won't do you any good to own an RV if there isn't enough money left in the budget to enjoy it.

4) Tow Vehicle

If you buy a towable RV make sure you have a tow vehicle that can safely tow it.

You might find your dream RV only to discover your tow vehicle can't tow it. If you already own the vehicle you plan to tow with determine how much it can safely tow. Call the local auto dealership to get the Tow Ratings for your vehicle. Travel Trailer towing capacity is different from 5th wheel towing capacity. Now go shopping for an RV based on that information.

If you plan to buy a tow vehicle select the travel trailer or fifth wheel trailer first, then buy a vehicle that can safely tow it. Your local auto dealership and your RV dealership should have trained personnel to assist you with matching the tow vehicle and trailer.

5) Do your research

Buying an RV is a major investment, similar to an automobile or your home. You need to do your research before you buy. There are lots of RV manufacturers and RV brands to choose from. You want an RV dealer and a manufacturer that will stand behind the product after the sale. You can research manufacturers on the internet, request brochures, take factory tours and attend local RV shows to learn more about all of the options you have.

6) Buy from a reputable RV dealership

A reputable RV dealership will have a professional sales, parts and service staff. This is an important consideration during and after the purchase of your RV. It's important that you select the right type of RV, floorplan and brand for you and your family, and that there are qualified technicians to service the unit after the sale. A reputable RV dealership can make your RV ownership experiences much more pleasurable.

7) What About Financing?

If you're like most RVers, you'll probably be financing at least part of your purchase. Most RV Dealerships have several sources of financing options. They will usually do the bank shopping for you and get you very competitive terms. You can also check with your bank or credit union and see what type of loan you can obtain before you go shopping. Often times the national banks have longer term loans at competitive rates.

TAX TIP: Because virtually every motorhome and many trailers feature beds, kitchens, sinks, and bathrooms, the IRS considers them to be homes. And that means that the interest on your loan may be tax deductible as a home mortgage. Consult your tax account for more details.

And there you have it: everything you should consider when buying an RV that's right for you, so that all of your camping adventures are happy ones.

8) Protecting your investment

When you purchase your RV consider some other factors that will help protect your investment. We recommend looking into some type of extended service contract that goes beyond the manufacturer warranty period.

You will need specialized RV insurance coverage. It's different from your home and auto policy. When you need specialized coverage you'll be glad you have it.

9) Now that you own it, where can you use it?

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, RVIA states that there are approximately 8,500 RV parks and campgrounds located near national parks and forests, popular tourist attractions, along interstates and in cities and small towns. With the Internet you have instant access to most of these public and private campgrounds, RV Parks and RV Resorts. Other good resources are travel guides, magazines, campground directories and state tourism boards to help plan your next RV trip.

10) What Else Do I Need to Consider?

There's more to figuring out when buying an RV. A lot more, such as:

Maintenance: Consult your RV dealer and the RV Manufacturer handbook for the specific of regular maintenance that is needed.

Where to Park: Many homeowner associations don't permit RVs or you have no space at your house. You may need to store your rig at a storage facility for a monthly fee.

Cost for Camping: Although the Bureau of Land Management has places where you can camp for free, these are usually out past the boondocks. So assume that you'll be camping at places that charge a fee. And in some cases, the daily rate varies according to the size of your RV.

Meals: Hungry campers have to eat. Does the RV you're considering offer kitchen options? Will you have to cook over the campfire? Or does your camping crowd like to dine at restaurants outside the campground?

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