Top 6 Questions to Ask Your Dealership When Shopping for an RV

Top 6 Questions to Ask Your Dealership When Shopping for an RV
How to save money and hassle during the sale as well as down the road.
By: Ann & Lin Bishop

Winnebago Class A motorhomes lined up on dealer lot

Whether you are new to the RV lifestyle or hoping to join it down the road, shopping for an RV can be an overwhelming task. What class of RV, what size, which floorplan, new or used? Those are just a few of the pre-purchasing questions that you will need to answer for you and your family.

Luckily, when Lin and I set out on the process of purchasing our own RV, we had already decided that the Winnebago Forza 34T Class A diesel pusher was perfect for us. Articles such as GoLife’s Top Tips for Choosing an RV helped us make a clear decision on just what the right fit for us was.

But what happens AFTER you’ve found the right RV that fits your needs and you’re ready to purchase it from a dealership? Not surprisingly, there are still some very important questions to be asked!

Here are the top six questions for a dealership we wish we had been better armed with when we set out to purchase our RV:

1. What is included in the price?

Besides the obvious question “what is your best price on the RV?”, just as important is what is included in it. 

Ask for the full features list of the unit you are looking to purchase and read it carefully. For example, we were surprised that our new motorhome didn’t come with a steering stabilizer kit. Not a huge deal breaker, but one oversight that we were not expecting and it ended up costing us money to have it installed later on.

Dealerships may also offer incentives in the purchase price, so be sure to ask about them. These can range from extended warranties to free oil changes for a period of time. We’ve even heard of others getting park passes and memberships to RV groups (like WIT Club) included in their RV purchase!

Ann and Lin walking with dealer next to Forza

Oh, and be sure to ask if there are any fees (besides taxes) that may get added in at the last minute – such as dealer prep fees or orientation fees. And if so, negotiate them out!

2. What are your financing options?

While we got pre-approved for a loan before walking into a dealership, we also asked what their financing options were. There is always a chance that you may find their loan options more favorable than what you can get on your own since most RV dealers finance through a variety of lenders. 

Your credit score, your down payment, and other factors will determine your financing terms. Make sure you can afford the monthly payments if you will be financing your RV!

3. Does it come with a warranty and what does it cover?

Just like understanding what is included in the purchase price, understanding what the manufacturer's warranty covers and for how long is equally important. Warranties will cover RV repair costs for components such as the slide outs, leveling systems, refrigerator, and more. And if you are buying a used RV, make sure it comes with a certified pre-owned warranty.

Our Forza came with a three-year warranty, which at the time was a Winnebago incentive. And now all Winnebago motorhomes come standard with a three-year warranty. However, the Freightliner chassis on our Forza only came with a one-year warranty. Be sure to understand warranties for different components of your RV, especially if it’s a motorized unit.

Ann and Lin standing in front of Forza posing for a photo

4. What is the history of the RV? (If buying used)

Buying a used RV can potentially save you thousands of dollars. However, you are also taking a risk on potential hidden issues. From previous water leaks to faulty hot water heater issues, you’ll want to discover these before you purchase the unit.

A few ways to find out about the condition of the unit is to first ask if there are any service records available. This will provide a history of repairs and maintenance. Second, hire an independent RV inspector to thoroughly check out the RV. Much like a home inspector, they can uncover things we cannot see on our own.

These simple steps will help avoid any headaches down the road!

5. Do you offer a full orientation on the RV upon purchase?

Before you drive your new RV off the lot full of excitement, be sure to have your dealership do a thorough walk around of your RV with you. Make sure it is free of charge and provided by a knowledgeable dealership employee. They should cover every switch and feature both inside and outside of the unit, as well as all maintenance and warranty items.

Winnebago Class A motorhomes lines up at dealership

Detailed orientations are especially important if you are buying a new model, such as the 2021 Winnebago Journey Class A diesel pusher. So many new features, such as the Winnebago Connect – where you can operate the controls within your RV from a smartphone, tablet, or in-wall control panel – will be new to you and possibly your dealership. If your dealership isn’t able to provide as much information as you’d like, you can also reach out to Winnebago’s Consumer Information Team. These product experts are trained alongside the corporate sales team and you can reach out to them using this form.

Our orientation on our Forza was over four hours long. Talk about information overload! Thankfully, I hit the record button on my phone and videotaped it. It has come in handy on many occasions!

6. What is the manufacturer and dealership after-sale service reputation?    

The manufacturer and dealership should be there for you after the sale just as much (if not more) as they were before the sale. There will be service needs on your RV whether you purchased a new or used unit. Getting those service needs taken care of quickly and correctly are important to keeping you out on the road enjoying your RV.

When we have an issue with our Forza, the first place we head is the Winnebago website where we can access online resources including parts lists, plumbing, and electrical schematics. We have also taken our RV to Winnebago’s service center in Forest City, IA, for service work and could not have been more pleased with the outstanding level of service. 

Motorhomes parked in the Winnebago Factory Service Center parking lot

And from a dealership perspective, how responsive will they be when you need your RV serviced from them if you can’t make it to the factory? Do they take appointments or is it on a first-come, first-served basis? What are their reviews like online with regard to their after-sale level of service? 

We narrowed our dealerships down to three before we made the final decision to drive over 1,000 miles to purchase our Forza! Yes, they had the best price (even factoring in travel and accommodations to get there), but they also had the best reviews when it came to after-the-sale service.

So, head into the dealership armed with these top six questions and you’ll be on your way to an easier buying experience and on the road to happy travels!