I realize this is a little late getting posted since we have been on the road for a few months now, but we thought we would share our RV buying experience.
The most important decision for us was choosing a RV out of the hundreds and hundreds for sale. We spent many months researching different models, sizes, floor models, cost, styles, etc (and by we, I mean Jason). Based on our research we came up with a few ideas about what kind of RV we wanted.
Size – 25-30ft – big enough for our trip, but not so big that we feel uncomfortable towing it. Also, most state and RV parks can accommodate a rig of that size.
Pull-behind style – the 5th wheels are typically a bit bigger allowing more room, but they can start to get a bit pricey and we had set a budget of $20,000. The budget was originally $15,000 but that went out the window very quickly as we narrowed down our wants.
New – we wanted new versus used. This was simply a personal preference. We were using this as a home for at least a year, so we felt like being the first and only owners was important. There will be a big hit for depreciation on a new one, but we felt it was worth it to be the first owners.
Tanks – we wanted to make sure we had a decent size fresh water tank as we were anticipating boondocking on the trip, especially when we were out West.
But all the research in the world, cannot make up for what we called the “butt factor”. That is putting your butt in the RV and determining comfort level. The models we narrowed it down to were not available at our local RV dealer, so we had to drive a bit to get to a RV dealer with the models we wanted to “butt test”. Thankfully Indiana is the RV capital of the world, but most of the dealers were up north so a day trip was in order! We ended up driving almost 4.5 hours to Wabash, Indiana to “butt test” RVs. We were there forever!! We butt-tested RV after RV until we narrowed it down to two. We preferred one of the two, but it was out of price range, was on the bigger side of what we wanted and had a lower cargo capacity. Even with all that against it, the butt won out and we bought it. We were over budget around $5,000 but were still able to pay cash. Biggest check I have ever written for sure!
After buying a RV, the dealer goes through the systems and RV with you. This is called a PDI: pre-delivery inspection. That takes about an hour depending on how smooth it goes. They show you how to work each system and they verify the systems are in working order. We found out through our research that RVs tend to be made hastily and are not always inspected before heading to the lot. I guess the PDI is a quick and dirty way to make sure the RV works as expected and at the same time show the new buyers how to use it. During our PDI, everything was going smoothly until we hit the water heater switch. That is when we blew a fuse. Phone call to the maintenance person, who had already gone home, 45 minutes and several fuses later the problem was solved. A circuit control board in the back of the RV had been installed on an aluminum backing. This was causing a short. After it was moved, we were back on track. Thankfully, that was the only issue we had during the PDI and we were ready for our first tow.
While we were going through our PDI, they installed the sway system on the RV. Keep reading to find out how that worked out for us! Paperwork was done, PDI was complete and all that was left was getting her home. By this time, it was almost 7:00 at night. We had been at the RV dealer for hours and we still had a 4.5-hour drive home, ugh! Did I mention it started to rain and we had straight-line winds gusting at 30-40 MPH? Yeah, that was the condition we were hauling our new RV in with a Ram 1500 and the first time we have ever towed any type of trailer. Needless to say, it was the longest, white-knuckle trip we have ever experienced. We were swaying and porpoising BIG time! Porpoising is when the truck and RV bounce down the road much like a porpoise rises above and below the water. It was somewhat manageable until we arrived at I-465 in Indianapolis. Holy crap! The makeup of the road and the distance between the road sections made it primetime for porpoising. It was so bad, we could not even speak to each other because our voices would crackle every time the truck bounced. That was a short stretch of the drive, but the rest was not much better. About an hour away from home, I hesitated to speak up, but asked Jason if a bigger truck was in order.
Neither one of us wanted to experience something like that again!! Few weeks later, we were truck shopping for a Ram 2500 (ended up getting a diesel). The 1500 was just too strained and we wanted a bit more piece of mind. We didn’t really want to spend the money for a new truck, but between better gas mileage and easier towing, it seemed like the right choice and we were right. After tweaking the sway system (which we learned was NOT hooked up properly at the dealer), the new truck has resulted in a WAY better tow experience.
Even after that experience, we still decided to RV full-time!