7 Tips for Buying a Pre-Owned RV
Insights into making a used RV purchase.

By: GoLife Staff

Are you thinking of buying a pre-owned motorhome or travel trailer? That’s such an exciting decision that also comes with a long list of questions regarding how to make the best purchase decision possible.

While choosing to buy a used RV is often a budget-related decision, it is also a common choice for DIYers who want to rip apart the inside of an RV and start over, or for families who fall in love with the look of a vintage RV. Whatever your reason for choosing a pre-owned RV, here are some tips to keep in mind before and after your purchase:

1. Test Out the Model or Type of RV

With so many rental options available, taking a short trip to test out your top RV choice can really help you be sure you are making the right purchase decision. Many Winnebago dealerships offer rentals and there are multiple peer-to-peer sites where you can often find the specific model of RV you have in mind, or at the very least the type of RV (Class A, B, or C, travel trailer, etc.).

If you are completely new to RVing, here are some basics to know before you hit the road.

2. Ask the Owner Tons of Questions

Don’t be shy about asking the dealership or private owner of the RV as many questions as you need to in order to feel secure in your purchase. You can also run a check on the RV through CarFax or similar services, just to be certain you are getting as much information as possible.

3. Hire an RV Inspector

Did you know that there are certified RV inspectors available to do a detailed assessment on an RV before you purchase it? While this is not a cheap service, it can be worth the peace of mind when purchasing a pre-owned RV – especially if you aren’t familiar with red flags to look for or you need someone to look at an RV out of state that you are considering.

RV inspectors will assess things the average new RVer may not be comfortable checking on their own, like electrical, plumbing, and the roof. Learn more here.

4. Decide on a Purchase Method

If you are going through a dealership, financing should be an option. However, if purchasing from a private owner you will likely need to be able to pay them in cash or bank transfer. Always make sure that all necessary paperwork has been completed to hand over ownership correctly, so you won’t have any issues registering your new-to-you RV. 

Keep in mind that out-of-state purchases may add a few more steps to the process. Contact your local DMV to find out what is needed to transfer ownership. Here are some tips for preparing for your RV purchase, including financing.

5. Be Prepared to Drive the RV Legally

You can’t drive a vehicle without a license plate, registration, and valid insurance. If buying locally, you should be able to arrange this fairly easily, but if needing to drive the RV back from further away, you may need to get a temporary option from the DMV to legally move it back to your state of residence. Contact your local DMV (and an office in the state you will be purchasing the RV in, if applicable) to go over what you will need to have to legally start driving the RV.

6. Make the RV Yours

Once all of the stressful purchase-related tasks are finished, you get to really dive into the fun! Take some time to decorate, or even renovate, your RV to make it ideal for you and your travel plans. 

Winnebago has all of their motorhome manuals available online, so if you have a question and need to access the manual, simply search for it here.

This article has some simple ways to make your new-to-you RV feel more like an extension of home.

7. Join the RVing Community

If you happened to buy a Winnebago, welcome to the family! There are many Winnebago owner groups available to join that will welcome you and offer insights into the RV life. They often host meetups, are quick to help answer questions, and are a great source of inspiration and friendship. 

Of course, there are many general RV groups as well that are often focused on RV type or how you plan to travel. You can also keep an eye out for RVer events, like shows and rallies, which will offer a great chance to meet other RVers in person while learning about your rolling home!

All the best on your RVing journey! 


Comments on this post are moderated, so they will not appear instantly. All relevant questions and helpful notes are welcome! If you have a service inquiry or question related to your RV, please reach out to the customer care team directly using the phone numbers or contact form on this page .

User commented on January 15, 2023 11:29 AM
I wish I had solicited an RV Inspector before I purchased my brand new 2017 Mini Winnie travel trailer. I’m in the process of repairing the roof (Rotting wood, etc.) following multiple leaks before, during and after dealer repairs. What a disappointing mess…and alot of work!
User commented on January 15, 2023 1:14 PM
Be aware of the age of the vehicle. As in my beloved 2007 Winnebago Sightseer 35j the slide out - rails and drives were made by Kwiki. In addition, the hydraulic jacks were made by Kwiki. The company Power Gear obtained Kwiki and it was absorbed into Lippert. Lippert discontinued the parts for both systems a few years ago. After cleaning, taking wear measurements, I spent countless hours searching for parts and solutions for eventual and expected failures. No suitable parts or replacement parts were available from either Winnebago or Lippert. Being retired, a new coach of the same caliber or quality was not available at a reasonable cost. Therefore my wife and I traded for a new Winnebago Minnie 2529RG and purchased a Ford Expedition MAX. That was not a preferred solution, but a necessary one. The quality of all RVs are less than the quality as compared to those similar products of years past. But the Winnebago Minne seemed to be both modern and robust as compared to other trailers. New RVers need to be aware of these facts when purchasing an RV, as I would have traded the Sightseer 7years ago for a Newmar, Winnebago, or Tiffon; 34ft - 36ft long as I did negotiate for a new coach. I ignored a sixth sense about the age of the vehicle and believed that parts would always be available. I was wrong.
User commented on January 15, 2023 2:31 PM
Thank you.. I now own a 24' view. Looking for a rig with a permanent rear bed. Not a fold in n out
User commented on January 17, 2023 1:18 PM
We bought a used 2019 Minnie Winnie 22R and love it. It has the bed in the back with a full bath right next to it. If you don't mind a Class C.
User commented on January 15, 2023 4:17 PM
Very informative.
User commented on January 15, 2023 7:43 PM
Remember! Buyer beware! Their are reasons why the "rig" is being sold.