Now don’t take the title incorrectly. I’m not suggesting you don’t buy that new or “new to you” RV. What I am suggesting is that you take a moment to be sure the RV you are considering or are looking at is the RV you really want.

RVIA showFor many the purchase of an RV is the second largest purchase they will make, right after the purchase of their home. We want to be sure the RV you end up with meets both your “Wants” and your “Needs”. I suggest the best way to accomplish this task is to take a breath and be sure you are not overwhelmed by the large selection or RVs out there and that you are not pushed into a purchase by an overly enthusiastic seller.

When my wife and I decided to make our purchase, before we even looked at our first RV we sat down and made a long list of what we considered our “Must Have”, our “Wants” and most importantly our “Don’t wants”. I am sure most folks make a short list of what they want but probably few make a list of “Don’t Want”.

I believe that while items on your want list may be negotiable (depending on price and availability of the exact feature), you may find that the little “do not want” may become like that small pebble in your shoe which in time can start to feel more like a boulder.

When you make your lists it will help if you are realistic. You should not expect a 40′ Class-A RV to deliver 25 mpg. Also the cute little 20 foot trailer may not have room for you, your wife and two 6’4″ teenagers.

If you pick up an RV magazine or browse through RV web sites you will get some information, but in my experience most of those sources are long on nice sounding words like “well equipped”, “spacious”, “comfortable” or “eye pleasing” which you would expect to see in what amounts to Press Releases issued by RV manufacturers. In general there are very few items with hard dimensions given.

What is missing are hard numbers. They might give the Gross weight rating but when they say the carry capacity is 1,090 Lbs for food, supplies and passengers do you really know if you can get you, your wife, kids and dog plus all the “stuff” you want to carry in the RV and not exceed the RV rating?

Here are just some suggestions for items that belong in one of your three categories:

Consideration Which List?
Load capacity in pounds
Gas or diesel if a motorhome
5th wheel or pull along if trailer
Shower or tub or both
One, two or three burner stove
Spare tire or at least space large enough for one
If motorized, does the brand i.e. Ford or Chevy or Mercedes etc make a difference?
Minimum length of warranty on the coach and chassis
Air conditioner (or two)
Permanent bed or only fold outs
Stabilizer jacks
Entertainment features such as TV, DVD etc.
One or more roof vents
Power vent fans
Privacy curtains or doors between areas of the RV
12 volt outlet in coach area
Tire Pressure Monitoring system
Extended warranty that covers a few or all parts of the RV
Back-up camera
Electric step extender
Lights in the ceiling

Stay tuned for Part 2 of 2 next week.

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