What To Look For When Buying a RV

The second part of our spring road trip was to the Elkhart, Indiana area where the majority of RVs are built in the USA.  After visiting the East Coast HDT Rally, it made sense to take a look at what could be hauled by an HDT but also take time to see other options for RVs.  Details about our trip to the rally are in an earlier blog posting.

We went with the intention of looking at RVs that could be lived in full-time or mostly full-time.  So, we did tours of two 5th wheel, two Class A motorhomes and two Super-C manufacturers.

The manufacturers don’t allow pictures during the tours, so this blog doesn’t have any photos.  Sorry!

With 6 tours planned in 4 days, I was fully expecting to be bored after the first couple.  It turned out that I was wrong and enjoyed all of them.  Each one was different, and the level of knowledge of each of the tour guides was different as well.

For 5th wheels, we visited Grand Design and The RV Factory.  For Class A motorhomes, we toured Newmar and Thor.  The two Super-C factories that we visited were Renegade and DynaMax.

I’m not going to try to sway you to one or another as each category of RV has its advantages and disadvantages.  And each manufacturer has its advantages and disadvantages.  Everyone needs to figure out what works best for their lifestyle.

If you’re looking at buying any sort of  RV, there are some obvious things that you need to consider:

  • Layout
  • Price
  • Licensing
  • Insurance
  • Warranties
  • Service availability

The one thing that is harder to get a handle on is the quality of the build.  By touring the factories, some things that came to light that I really hadn’t considered before are listed here:

  • Size of the tanks for fresh, grey and black water. The Super-C’s have much larger tanks than the other RVs.
  • Roofing material. Some are TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin, a single ply roofing membrane; some are a fibreglass rolled roof.
  • The structural build can vary by the materials used, the process of the build and the thickness of the walls.
  • Various types of insulation were used. Some use closed cell foam (i.e. styrofoam) , some use sound deadening insulation and some use regular house insulation.
  • Some have solid wood cabinets but some have veneer cabinets.
  • Drawers can be stapled or nailed together or built with dovetail corners. The ones with the dovetail corners are much more solid.
  • Trim inside the RV can be wrapped or stained.
  • Flooring materials vary between models and manufacturers.
  • Placement of heating vents can vary. Some are in-floor, but others will have them mounted in walls and cabinets, so you don’t step on them.

I wish it were as easy as to say that you get what you pay for, but even some of the higher end models had some areas where we felt corners were cut.

I highly recommend that if you’re going to make a substantial investment in an RV that you take the time to visit the manufacturer that you’re interested in but also a few others for comparison.  I would not make my first choice my first stop as the more tours you do, the more you learn, and you get better at spotting the things that you should be looking for.  The manufacturers we visited all had tour information on their websites or we just contacted them by email to set up a date and time

It will likely be a couple years before we finally make our purchase and I know we will be back doing a few more factory tours before we make our final decision.  Right now, we are leaning heavily toward the HDT and a 5th wheel.

Before I close this post, I’d like to throw out a couple kudos:

  • The tour at Newmar was the most professionally run tour. Each guest was given a headset to use so they could always hear the comments of our tour guide Nathalie.  She was well versed in the operations of the plant and was able to either answer the questions we asked or get us the answers from someone on the plant floor.
  • Daryle at Renegade and Deb at The RV Factory both gave us great private tours. They answered loads of questions and never made us feel rushed even though they know we are a couple years away from buying.

Hopefully, one day in the next couple years we will put this newfound knowledge buy our new home for the road.

Happy travels!


2 thoughts on “What To Look For When Buying a RV

  1. You are doing your research, Elkhart is a great place to take tours and hopefully your can decide on the perfect rv for you. Glad that we found ours over 12 years ago, it has been the perfect house for us ever since.

    1. Thanks for taking a read of my blog, George! We’re enjoying the research but are sure that we’ll enjoy going full-time more. I’ve taken a quick look at your blog and will take a closer look soon. Glad you’re enjoying your time on the road. Vanessa

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