Buying From RV Dealers – How To Protect Yourself

Buying From RV Dealers - Protect Yourself

This article is about how you can protect yourself when buying from RV dealers.

This is an important subject in light of a disturbing trend that’s going on in the RV dealer industry. And we’ll talk about that a little bit later.

But first, I’ll say that RV dealers are a very essential part of the RV buying experience for many.

Because they make things so convenient and easy when buying an RV. You can go through several models quickly and choose the one that fits you best.

They may even be very helpful with your financing, your warranty, accessories, etc. So you can usually get it all done quickly and easily. And that’s a good thing.

Watch my video about how to protect yourself when buying from an RV dealer

Table of Contents

Buying From RV Dealers – A Warning

But RV dealers can also come with a bit of a warning too. So there’s some things you need to know about them and we’re going to talk about that in this article.

However, I don’t want to lump all RV dealers in under one big bad umbrella. Because that’s just not right.

There’s some very good RV dealers out there. Dealers that are very concerned about you as a customer. And they want to treat you right. They want you to have a good customer experience.

Unfortunately though, that’s not always the case. And there are quite a few RV dealers that are not customer oriented. And that’s a sad fact.

These dealers are more focused on their own bottom line than they are on
your customer experience.

A Word About RV Manufacturers Too

But if you’re buying a new RV, you’ve got to understand that if you have issues with it, it’s not always just the dealer’s fault.

The sad truth is that in this industry, there’s many manufacturers whose quality control is not what it should be.

And again, this is not all manufacturers. So I don’t want to lump all RV manufacturers in under one bad umbrella either.

There are some manufacturers that are really working hard to do the right thing. But there are not enough enough of those these days to assure that you will usually get a good new RV.

We keep hoping it’ll get better. But there’s just a disturbing downward trend out there. And it does not seem to be improving from year to year right now.

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In fact, it appears that maybe some of these manufacturers have come to a decision. And that appears to be that it’s actually cheaper for them to just send RVs off of the assembly line with issues and then fix them later on.

Instead of imposing good quality control guidelines on the assembly lines before they go out the door. So what happens then?

Well that means we have a lot of RVs going out of the factory with sometimes serious issues. It’s just a well-known truth in the industry.

Buying From RV Dealers – What About A PDI?

So now the RV comes to the dealer. And what does the dealer do with these new RVs from the manufacturer? Well they’re going to tell you that they do a great pre-delivery inspection (PDI) on each RV.

They’re going to tell you that they perform a 400 (or more) point inspection before you get the RV. But the sad truth is that often this does not happen the way they proclaim.

So when you buy your RV from the dealer, it has left the factory with issues. And now the dealer hasn’t really imposed good PDI guidelines before it goes out the door to you.

So the result is that you have this new RV now that has issues. And you own it.

Buying From RV Dealers – Finding Problems

So eventually you’re going to take this RV out on your first camping trip. And no doubt, you are going to be very excited on your first trip in this new RV.

But suddenly you find out that it has all these issues and problems. Issues that you expected were going to be solved before you took delivery.

So you make your list of problems and you go back to the dealer. And you tell them about all the things that need to be fixed.

Now, to most dealers credit, they are going to fix those issues under warranty. I don’t hear a lot of people say that it doesn’t get fixed.

But unfortunately, you’re going to go through a very frustrating process before it does get fixed.

In fact, here’s what often will happen in many cases after you have taken delivery of that RV.

RV Dealers Service Department Delays

At this point, they have no real financial incentive to get you into the service department quickly.

So you go to the back of the line for their service department. Then what happens is it’s often weeks or months before your RV gets all those issues fixed.

How To Avoid Buying An RV Money Pit

Well, now you get it back and you’re excited again! You’re going to go back out camping again, because now you have got a good RV, right?

Unfortunately, many times that’s not the case. There are even more issues that become apparent now. And you’ve got another list to go back to the dealer with.

Why? Because they still haven’t done a really good overall pre-delivery inspection. Or even any kind of inspection at all to find and note all of the problems on the RV.

Instead, they just fix what you find each time you use the RV. So now you bring it back and you go through the same process again.

This means that you go back to the back of the end of the service department’s line again. And finally they work you through for service once more.

So you get it back again and you find even more problems you hadn’t seen before. And unfortunately, this can be repeated many times.

I’ve even heard of people buying new RVs that go through this process for a year or longer. And sure enough, eventually they get things fixed under warranty.

Getting Problems Fixed Under Warranty

So I’m not saying the manufacturers don’t fix these issues. Or that the dealers don’t take care of them.

Of course, some are better than others. But usually it does get taken care of.

However, think of all the frustration, time and energy being wasted. While you have to bring this RV back for service over and over again.

And not having the RV that you really paid for until maybe a year or more down the line.

Now all of this comes back to one simple thing. That a good inspection process is not being done by the RV dealers themselves. And of course, the original problem is the quality control issue at the manufacturer.

And apparently, dealers have caught on that their service department can become a real profit center in these situations.

Because the service department does all the work, they do it under warranty. And they’re getting paid for it.

If it’s a used RV that you bought instead, then they’re probably going to be repairing it. And then you are footing the bill for it.

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So the service department becomes a very valuable profit center there in the dealership.

Buying From RV Dealers Can Be Frustrating

Now clearly who are the ones that are suffering in this scenario? Well it’s not the manufacturers. Because the manufacturers are selling RVs as fast as they can put them out there.

And it’s not really the dealers either. Because the dealers are selling them as quickly as they hit the lot.

No, it’s the consumer. It’s the RVer. It’s you that takes it on the
chin because of lack of customer service in this area.

You are the one being put out. You are the one who doesn’t get the product you pay for until months or even more down the line.

How You Can Protect Yourself

Now here’s an important question. How do you protect yourself from this kind of situation happening to you? From being a victim of this whole process? How do you stop that?

Well I feel strongly that nobody should have to buy an RV that has
hidden issues and problems. I just don’t believe it’s necessary.

Especially if the buying public is educated and knows what to do. Unfortunately though, many RV buyers really don’t know what they should do before buying an RV.

They’re just going through the process blindly in many cases. That’s why I wrote an ebook guide on this subject.

It’s called, “How to avoid buying an RV money pit“. And in the guide I explain how to find the right RV for you. And how to establish which RV is going to fit your camping style and your travel style best.

How To Avoid Buying An RV Money Pit

I also explain how a buyer is able to do a pre-inspection on each RV that they see. And this pre-inspection can be done by almost anybody.

You don’t have to be a previous RVer. And you don’t have to have any special tools or abilities.

Just follow the checklist and guidance that I provide in the ebook. And then you will know what RVs are worthy of your consideration, and which ones you can just weed out.

You don’t have to be wasting a lot of time with RV’s that you really shouldn’t be considering in the first place.

Getting An RV Inspection Is Important

Now the ebook guide is very helpful. And I do recommend it highly. But I do not believe that the guide should supplant an inspection by a certified RV inspector. I really believe that is still necessary.

You see, the guide helps you make sure you don’t call in an inspector until they are needed. Not until it’s an RV that’s really worthy of consideration.

So you don’t have to waste money by inspecting RVs that should never be considered in the first place. That’s the purpose of the ebook guide.

Alright, so now you call in the certified RV inspector. And that inspector goes through the RV you are considering for purchase.

Usually, he will come out with a list of issues that need attention. And the list will be sometimes quite extensive.

Then it will be very clear what needs to be given attention to on that RV. What preoblems it has that needs to be fixed.

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So now you have a list you can go to the RV dealer with. And you can tell them you love this RV and you’d love to have it. But you won’t take delivery until all these items are covered and taken care of.

Getting RV Dealers To Provide Good Customer Service

Well do you know what happens then? Instead of going to the back of the line, you now suddenly go to the front of the line. Because the dealer
wants that RV sold.

So they’re going to put you in the front of the service department line. They’re going to get all those things fixed all at once before you take delivery.

And this is before you go on your first camping trip in the new RV. So now you get the RV that you deserve right off the bat.

You’re not waiting months or years down the line to get it. Instead, you get it right then.

So this is a way that you can put all the odds on your side. You are essentially weeding out the problem RVs first. And then focusing in on those that will be best for you.

RV Inspectors VS RV Dealers

Now remember too, that certified RV inspectors work for you. See, there’s a problem when the dealer tells you to just trust that they do a great RV PDI.

Well that’s kind of like the fox guarding the hen house. They have the incentive not to take the time to do such a great PDI beforehand.

But when you call in an RV inspector, they’re hired by you. So they’re
working for you.

They’re going to be looking for things to protect their customer. And that’s you. So it puts the odds of getting a usable RV on your side instead!

RV Dealers – A Disturbing Trend

Now let’s discuss another disturbing trend. That some RV dealers are trying to deny RV inspections on RVs that are on their lot.

Why would a dealer want to do that? How does that help the customer?

Everybody knows, especially with new RVs, that quality control is not what it should be. So wouldn’t they want their customers to get the very best product possible at the time of sale?

And if it calls for a certified RV inspector to verify that it’s in good shape. Or find the issues and have them fixed, wouldn’t that be the best for the customer?

What If The Dealer Denies An RV Inspection?

So what if a dealer is denying you the opportunity to have an RV inspection? Well, what kind of dealer is this? Is this really someone that you should be doing business with?

I can’t answer that question for you. Because everybody has to make their own decision in these matters.

But I can tell you what I would do. Suppose I was trying to do business with an RV dealer. And that dealer denied me the opportunity to thoroughly inspect an RV that I’m considering.

Well then, that RV dealer will see me going out the door. And I would not be back. That’s how I would handle that situation.

Now why is that a good thing to do? Well you see my friends, too many RVers have not done this.

They’ve given in to the dealer. They’ve let the dealer set the terms on all of the buying process. And as a result, the internet is filled with complaints from RV buyers.

Things that happened to them as a result of the buying process that they weren’t happy about. Obviously, you don’t want that to happen to you.

So I recommend that you consider seriously what I’m talking about in this article to protect yourself.

How To Get RV Dealers To Change

Also consider this. Dealers and manufacturers are never going to change until they have to. Not until the tide is so swiftly against them that it’s too hard to resist.

Suppose more and more people tell the dealer “I’m not buying from you if you don’t allow me to verify that this is a quality product.” Well, if enough people do that, then you’ll see some changes start to happen quickly.

There will definitely be some different processes that would go into effect in the RV industry at that point.

But the more that dealers are allowed to impose their own rules on customers. The more they can restrict the customer’s ability to get a quality RV. Well then, the more it hurts the consumer. You, the RV buyer.


And let me say this, buying an RV is a serious financial commitment. I mean they usually cost more than your car.

They’re probably the second biggest purchase that you’re going to make behind your house. Some of them are are very expensive too. Therefore we’re not talking about just a few dollars here.

So you need to protect yourself when going through the buying process at RV dealers.

And hopefully what I have covered in this article today will be helpful for you. And has given you some ideas on how you can better protect yourself when buying an RV from a dealer.

Well that’s it for now. Have safe and happy travels my friends. Until next time….

2 thoughts on “Buying From RV Dealers – How To Protect Yourself”

  1. All that said here, should I arrange for an inspector before I speak to the dealer? Or should I tell the prospective inspector to wait until I get permission from the dealer?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. That’s a good question. I often have people contact me before they begin the buying process with the dealer just to make sure that I am available and willing to do the inspection. On the other hand, most people contact me after they have found the RV they like and have started the negotiation process with the dealer. Either way works fine as far as I’m concerned. If a dealer refuses to allow an RV inspection before the sale, my recommendation is to find a different dealer who is more customer oriented. I hope that helps.

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