What to Look for When Buying a Used Motorhome: A Camper’s Guide

HomeAutoMobilesWhat to Look for When Buying a Used Motorhome: A Camper's Guide

There’s nothing quite like the freedom of the open road and the ability to take your home with you wherever you go. Owning a motorhome opens up a world of camping adventures and cross-country road trips.

However, buying a used motorhome can be a daunting task, fraught with potential pitfalls if you’re not well-informed.

This guide will help you navigate the process and ensure you find the perfect pre-owned rig that fits your needs and budget.

Pre-Purchase Inspection

Before handing over any cash, a thorough inspection is crucial. Here’s what to check:


  • Examine upholstery, cabinets, and floors for wear and tear, water damage or mold
  • Test all appliances, lights, electronics, and slide-outs
  • Inspect plumbing and water systems for leaks


  • Look for dents, rust, sealant issues and delamination
  • Check the tyres, including spare, for age and tread depth
  • Operate slide-out rooms, awnings, levellers, etc.


  • Ask for maintenance records
  • Listen for unusual noises
  • Have a mechanic perform an inspection if possible

Budgeting and Financing

While used motorhomes are cheaper upfront, they still represent a major purchase.

Create a realistic budget that accounts for:

  • Purchase price
  • Insurance
  • Registration and taxes
  • Maintenance and repairs

Explore financing options through dealers, banks or credit unions. Having pre-approved funding can strengthen your negotiating position.

Understanding Motorhome Classes

Motorhomes range from compact Class B vans to larger Class A buses. Determine your needs:

Class A: The largest and most luxurious, but with lower fuel economy and manoeuvrability.

Class C: Built on a truck chassis, easier to drive than Class A, while still offering amenities.

Class B: Smallest and most fuel-efficient, perfect for 1-2 campers. Less living space.

Think about the number of people travelling, distances driven, and camping needs.

Maintenance and Repairs

Used motorhomes require ongoing care. Budget for routine maintenance like oil changes, tire replacements and generator servicing.

Older models may need system upgrades or renovations over time. Having a certified RV technician conduct an annual inspection is wise.

Private Seller vs Dealer

Private Sellers

Private party purchases are often cheaper but riskier. They don’t come with the same warranties or recourse if issues arise after purchase. Dealers are more expensive but provide greater protection and handle the paperwork.

When purchasing from a private seller, you may be able to negotiate a lower price. This is because they aren’t a business trying to make a profit. However, private sellers also have less incentive to be fully transparent about any issues or repair needs.


With a dealer, you’ll pay more, but reputable dealers thoroughly inspect and repair any glaring issues before sale. They also offer limited warranties and return policies and handle all registration and licensing paperwork hassles. There is also legal recourse if the dealer misrepresents the condition of the motorhome.

Another advantage of buying from a dealer vs. a private seller is that new vehicle dealers often offer certified pre-owned options. This specifies that the motorhome has undergone a rigorous multi-point inspection and refurbishing process to meet high standards.

Dealers also have a wider selection at any given time, allowing you to shop multiple makes, models and layouts. With a private seller, you’re limited to whatever they happen to be selling.

However, purchasing through a dealership does mean paying more overall due to overhead costs, financing fees, and built-in profit margins. You may also feel pressured by sales tactics or negotiation games that private sellers don’t employ.

Paperwork and Legal Considerations

Ensure you receive a transferred title, and registration and have the motorhome insured before driving off.

Review service records and existing warranty details. An experienced RV dealer handles these properly.

Is It Time To Buy Or Continue Renting?

Of course, renting before you buy is an option. Auckland motorhome rentals and other rental agencies allow you to try out RV life first, without the commitment of ownership.

This can be wise if you’re uncertain about whether the motorhome lifestyle suits you long-term.

However, buying provides greater flexibility and potential cost savings over years of camping trips. You can also customize your motorhome’s layout and amenities to perfectly fit your needs.


Purchasing a used motorhome requires diligence but can allow you to affordably enter the world of RV camping and traveling.

Thoroughly inspect potential rigs, understand your needs, secure proper financing, and handle paperwork correctly. This way, you can confidently find the perfect pre-owned motorhome.

With some patience and research, you’ll soon be hitting the road and making countless camping memories with your home on wheels.

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