Just as with cars, there are incredible bargains to be had in the used RV market. The right used RV can save you a tremendous amount of money, but it's also crucial to avoid buying someone else's problem. Many people use mileage to help separate the wheat from the chaff, but does the number on the odometer really matter?
The answer isn't always straightforward, so this guide will help you understand how you can use mileage to inform your RV purchase.
Research the Mechanical Parts
Motorized RVs are one part car and one part house. When it comes to the mechanical side of things, most of these vehicles use tried and true heavy-duty truck engines. These powerplants tend to be reliable and long-lasting. More importantly, however, most manufacturers use these engines in a variety of different vehicle platforms.
You should always research other vehicles that use the same engine and transmission whenever considering an RV model. This information provides you with a broader pool of data on the long-term reliability of these mechanical components. Motors that last for hundreds of thousands of miles in harsh working conditions should have no trouble going the distance for RV owners.
Pay Attention to Maintenance
Ultimately, mileage is just a number. The number of miles driven is less crucial than how well the previous owner or owners cared for the vehicle—if possible, looking for RVs that come with complete maintenance histories. These documents not only prove that the previous owner cared for the vehicle, but they can also help to alert you to any impending maintenance needs.
In practice, most RV mechanicals should be fine well beyond the 100,000-mile mark, and modern engines can typically last for 200,000 miles or more with proper care. While it's best to avoid poorly maintained vehicles or that lack service history, you shouldn't condemn the mechanical side of an RV on mileage alone.
Carefully Inspect the Interior
Mileage can't tell you much about interior usage, or the "house" part of an RV. A low-mileage RV may have seen year-round occupancy, while the owners of a high-mileage RV may have used it only for short vacations. You should always carefully inspect the interior of an RV that you want to buy, no matter the number on the odometer.
Road miles do place some amount of wear and tear on interior components. Bouncing over rough roads can loosen interior panels, cause rattles, and otherwise wear things down. A thorough inspection and road test should reveal these issues, but always keep them in mind when looking at higher mileage examples.
Buying an RV is a big purchase, whether you're buying new or used. Mileage alone should not dictate your options, however. With careful research and close inspection, high mileage RVs can offer just as much value as their lower mileage counterparts.
If you're looking for a used RV for sale, reach out to a local RV dealership for more information.