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Is Buying An RV Online The Right Choice For You?

Published on March 4th, 2024 by Chelsea Gonzales
This post was updated on March 11th, 2024

Thanks to huge advancements in technology, many people are turning to the internet to shop for cars, trucks, and even RVs. But is this the way to go? Should you buy your next RV online? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons. 

Pros of Buying an RV Online

There are definitely some pretty awesome benefits to buying an RV online. Will these pros be enough to convince you to start shopping for a trailer, motorhome, or truck camper online? Let’s take a look and find out.

Never Leave Home

Hopping from one RV lot to the next to look at dozens of motorhomes or truck campers, or trailer after trailer, is exhausting. When you shop online, you can avoid this hassle entirely and save your energy for your first trip out in your new rig. 

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Avoid Pushy Salespeople

Nobody likes dealing with pushy salespeople, and for the introverted among us, the idea of fending off the people on the RV lot is almost too much. When you shop online, you get to see all of the rigs available to you without ever talking to a single person. 

Expand Your Selection

Buying an RV online means you aren’t limited to trailers and motorhomes that are super close by. You can buy from the next state over and then go to pick the RV up or even have it delivered to your home. This expands your selection quite a bit, making it a lot easier to find whatever it is you’re looking for. 

Young couple admiring their new rig after buying an RV online.

Save Time and Money

Finally, we have to mention the fact that buying an RV online can save you time and money. You won’t be hopping from dealership to dealership trading to find the right motorhome or trailer, meaning less money spent on fuel and less time wasted at lots that simply don’t have what you want. 

On top of that, you’ll be able to see who has the best price on a given rig right away, and since you can shop in other locations, you might even save thousands over buying locally. 

Cons of Buying an RV Online

Of course, there are plenty of drawbacks to buying online. Many RVers find that these cons are enough to get them to stick to in-person RV shopping. 

Buying Sight Unseen

The biggest con to buying an RV online? You’ll be buying sight unseen—something many experienced RVers recommend against. This is because some types of RV damage can be easily hidden in photos, but costs thousands to repair. 

Besides, it is really hard to tell if you’ll actually love a specific floorplan without walking through it and imagining a day in the RV. Buying without seeing might mean you end up with a floorplan that doesn’t work as well as you’d hoped. 

Pre-Delivery Inspection Fees

I will always recommend getting a third party inspection done on any RV you buy. This is even more important if you are buying online. Yes, the dealership might do a pre-delivery inspection (PDI) of their own, but it will be biased, and damage is often overlooked during these dealership inspections. Pulling in a third party means you will get an unbiased opinion of the rig before you spend your hard-earned money on it. 

Of course, you will have to pay the inspector whether or not you buy the RV. If you have a few different RVs inspected before finding one that meets your criteria, you could be looking at a huge sum of money.

Less Time for Questions

Buying online means less time sparring with salespeople. In many ways, this seems like a good thing. However, it does mean there is less time for questions about the RV and how it works. This might mean you take the RV out on its maiden voyage and have to use YouTube to learn how to use it. This isn’t the end of the world, but certainly could be annoying. 

Laptop computer on a desk, poised to help with buying an RV online
Image source: Unsplash

The Process of Buying an RV Online

How do you buy an RV online? These days, this is actually a pretty easy process, especially if you go through a dealership that has everything set up for online buyers. 

Know What You Want

Before you start shopping for an RV, make sure you know what you want. Have an idea of what type of RV you want, how many sleeping spaces you need, whether you need any special amenities, and what your price range is. This will help you narrow your options, which can be helpful when shopping online with endless options to choose from. 

Do Your Shopping

The next step is, of course, to do your actual shopping. If you’re looking to buy used, RV Trader is a great resource, as is Facebook Marketplace. That said, as mentioned before, buying a used RV sight unseen is risky, and buying from an individual online can be more difficult. 

A better option is to buy through a dealership. There are a huge number of large dealerships out there that will sell to online shoppers, including Camping World, Lazy Days, and Fun Town RV. Campers Inn even has a handy online shopping guide to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. 

Do a Virtual Walkthrough

You may not be able to see the RV in person, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for photos alone. Some dealerships have virtual tours of some RVs available on their websites. However, even if that isn’t an option, you can ask for a virtual tour via a video call. We do not recommend buying an RV without a thorough virtual tour. 

Have the RV Inspected

As we said above, a third party inspection is always a must, especially when buying sight unseen. If you decide after the virtual walkthrough that this is indeed the RV for you, call in an inspector to make sure everything is in good condition. 

Negotiate Price

In some cases, the advertised price of an RV is what it is. However, most individuals and many dealerships are willing to drop prices a bit on both new and used RVs. In fact, the usual tactic employed is listing the rig at an inflated price with full knowledge that it will be haggled down to the “real” price.

Make sure you try to do a bit of negotiating before you dive into the purchase process so you know you’re getting the best price possible. 

Get Approved for a Loan

Most RV dealerships have a process for getting online buyers approved for financing through their websites. If you need financing, be sure to ask the dealer about this, as they likely have a process that makes the whole thing a cinch.

If you decide to take the risks and buy from an individual, you will need to get approved for a loan through your financial institution. This process is the same whether you’ll be buying in person or online. That said, the individual you purchase from might have opinions about how they’d like to receive payment that could make it impossible to buy without meeting the seller at least once. 

Pick Up the RV (or Have It Delivered)

The last step to buying an RV online is actually getting the RV. You’ll want to discuss this part with the person you are buying from before you begin the purchase process. 

If you plan to pick the RV up, that’s easy enough. Just set up a pick-up appointment time and make sure you have a way to get the RV home. (Keep in mind that not all trucks can tow all trailers.)

Want to have the RV delivered? Some dealerships offer nationwide delivery, but others will only deliver within a certain radius. In most cases, a delivery fee will be assessed. Most private sellers will not be willing to deliver without some sort of compensation. 

Conclusion: Is Buying an RV Online A Good Choice?

Buying an RV online can be a great choice if A) there aren’t a lot of RVs available in your area, B) you don’t have lots of time to shop around, or C) you hate dealing with pushy salespeople. That said, buying an RV—especially a used RV—sight unseen can be risky.

Ultimately, how you shop for your RV is up to you. That said, I’m a bit old-fashioned and recommend having a look at any RV you plan to buy in person before you make a commitment if at all possible.

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