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 > Buying a Used Travel Trailer

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Alexandria, VA

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Joined: 01/11/2018

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Posted: 01/11/18 09:50am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'm seriously considering my first trailer purchase. For practical reasons I need to at least consider buying a used one instead of a new one. I buy used cars and high end photo equipment without a problem, but I admit my knowledge of TT is pretty limited.

Any opinions on buying a used TT from a dealer? From a private owner?

Thanks for any help.



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Posted: 01/11/18 09:59am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The first question becomes, How handy are you with maintenance and repairs? Everything from plumbing to minor carpentry and electrical.
If you feel comfortable in those areas, then I would definitely suggest used for starting out. Look for water intrusion, possible delamination as well as visable signs in cabinets and the "feel" of the floor. The condition of the flooring in the main walkway and at the entrance give an idea of the amount of use it recieved. Check the age of the tires as well as tread, over 4 years old, replace.
There are a lot of video's on you tube that outline these things, watch a few and it will come together.
If you arent comfortable with maintenance and repair, you may want to reconsider, because things do break, and as Mr Murphy said what can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible time.
But for those days it doesnt,,,,,, they make the rest worth it.


No paticular place.

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Posted: 01/11/18 10:09am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

New or used, being handy is helpful. Wouldn't drive the choice for me. Don't count on new being trouble free. Everyone we know who has bought new has lost at least a month of RV time to "warranty" work. You might not get charged for warranty work but you still pay to drive the unit to the dealer and you still lose the use while it's in the shop... and people paying actual full price in cash go in line ahead of you for work.

The biggest thing is make sure there is no water damage. If you don't know what to look for...once you have a unit you think is good (do your best), make an offer contingent upon an inspection, then pay for a mobile RV tech to come out and look it over. Might cost you $100-150 but if it steers you away from a boondoggle, it's money well spent.

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Posted: 01/11/18 10:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have bought all my RVs from private owners. I find that a lightly used "quality" unit represents the best value proposition. They are out there as many buy on impulse and seldom use their trailers. You may want to drag a friend with some knowledge along for your first look. Increasing your knowledge will happen real quick whether you buy new or used.

I've never been burned buying used but I can fix issues myself. Look inward, if you have no mechanical ability, no tools or no place to work on a trailer then maybe a new unit with a warranty is the best way to go. The trailers I bought were not trouble free and if I had to pay $100+ per hour to have them fixed then things would look different.

Good luck and have fun looking. Spent a week in Alexandria last summer and really enjoyed myself.


Northern Nevada

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Posted: 01/11/18 10:23am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I like Durb's post. Most used trailers don't get used that much. Avoid the ones that may have been lived in at construction sites or full time. Notice the amount of wear on the floor and upholstery.

Have the owner demonstrate the major appliances. Refrigerators are one of the expensive things to replace. Nearly everything else can be fixed if the coach is clean and not beat up. Ask about the age of tires, repacking axles, etc. See how much maintenance has been done on the rig.

Buy the best quality you can find. Negoitiate with cash.



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Posted: 01/11/18 11:10am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Private party used is where you can get the best value. Do some homework over a period of time on Craigslist, RV Trader, etc. so you know where whatever you are seeking should be in terms of price. People will frequently set the price at what they owe, which is often more than the trailer is worth. Nothing wrong with buying new and you can get good deals sometimes, but you will take a significant depreciation hit when you pull out of the dealership.

I agree with the comments above about water damage being the biggest thing to look out for.

Edit - budget in replacement mattresses. There are great foam options on Amazon for reasonable prices.

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North Central Indiana

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Posted: 01/11/18 11:35am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We bought a three year old unit because we found the floor plan we like at a price we could afford. It was lightly used.

The most important thing we did was rent a similar sized TT first. 10 day in the Ozarks from IN and we learned a lot about towing, parking, floor plan and RVing in general.

The biggest lesson was, although my F-150 had the cargo capacity for the tongue weight of a loaded 25 ft. TT; the 200 hp. motor which hauled our pop-up all over the country could not cut it. We upgraded to a 356 hp. E-boost F-150.

As mentioned, new or used it is best to be handy with service work. I believe there is more service work on an RV then most beginners realize. This of course assumes a fair amount of use.

Finally, check the cargo capacity of your Tow vehicle. Family, camp gear and toys eat a lot of it up; before you add the tongue weight of a loaded TT. It is often twice the advertised dry tongue weight.

Good luck and remember it is not a race.

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Upland, CA USA

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Posted: 01/11/18 12:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nothing wrong with buying a used trailer, just check it out well. Some are lightly used and can be a great deal. Water intrusion and damage is the biggest killer of trailers so that's the first thing you check for.

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Posted: 01/11/18 12:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I got a great deal on a used trailer... and it was only used for a few trips and basically still new.

Absolutely make sure there are no leaks or soft spots. Everything else (even the expensive fridge) can be easily fixed... a rotten floor, not so much.


Between Anderson, Pendleton, & Lapel, Indiana

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Posted: 01/11/18 12:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Take some time and go to an RV dealership in your area and just walk through as many units as you can reasonably absorb. Take a camera and a note pad and begin narrowing down what you like and don't like.

As in your choice of life-long partner, it's just as important to know what you DON'T like or DON'T want in an individual, as it is to know what you DO want. Same is true with an RV. Knowing what you DON'T want is equally as important. With no prior experience, you should just spend time looking at various campers with an absolute firm commitment of not purchasing anything. Make it a goal that you look at 50 different RV before allowing any salesman or individual begin to pressure you into buying. It will not take long (really) to realize what will work for you and what will not. You'll see some units with good qualities and others that are just ... "OMG what were they thinking!"

If you find one that tickles-your-fancy, notate it, and come back later after you've experienced the committed list of 50. At least that way, you have something to truly compare.

Some campers will speak to you immediately. Others will yell in terror! Once you identify something that speaks those wonderful words ... "Ah Ha!" then go back an look at it REAL close for things like water damage, wear and tear, faulty appliances, failing roof, bad tires, stuff like that.

I suggest a dealership because that is where you'll have the most concentration of RVs in one spot to just window shop with with minimum running around and frustration of bumping into pure junk and wasting your time running from one to the other. That does't mean if find one that suits you to jump at it right away. Playing a bit of cat-and-mouse with the previous owner is a good thing.

The first question you should ask them is, "how long have you had this camper 'for sale' for? If a long time, you know there's no rush on a decision. If they say, "2 hours" ... you might have to move a bit quicker.

Once you get a feel for the good, the bad, and the ugly, you'll have some ammunition to really begin research into that specific model.

Good luck with your search. These are my suggestion on getting started. And yes ... it does take patients and time ... but the end is REALLY worth it!


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