A First-Time Buyer’s Guide to Buying an RV

Purchasing an RV for the first time is incredibly exciting, and if you plan to have an RV on the road this summer, there’s no better time to buy than right now. Most businesses are struggling to keep up with demand, so if you plan to have an RV for summer adventures, you need to make a purchase sooner rather than later to manage the long lead times.


Perhaps you’ve envisioned yourself driving down the highway with your new RV in tow, off to find adventure almost anywhere your heart desires. You may have already begun to look at your options and have felt more than a little overwhelmed. There are a lot of options out there, and if you’re new to this, it can be hard to identify what is and isn’t right for you. That’s okay; we’ve done this… a lot, and we have put together a guide to help you navigate your first-time buying experience.


These are the seven most important things you should know before buying your first RV.

Know your vehicle


First things first, you should know your vehicle’s towing capacity. If you aren’t sure where to find this, check the sticker inside the driver’s side door frame. 


After you find your vehicle’s towing capacity, you will need to add the RV’s dry weight (its normal weight without any additional things packed inside), passenger’s weight, cargo, and liquids. This will determine your total weight, which must not exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity. 


It’s helpful to have a few RVs in mind during this process in order to make these calculations.

Find a local dealer


You should always shop locally when you are purchasing an RV. There is almost always a reputable dealer nearby to provide you with immediate and long-term benefits.


While price might be your top priority, there are other factors to consider when picking an RV dealer. These factors, such as service before, during, and after the sale, will provide you greater value during the lifetime of your RV. You want someone helpful and honest, who can help you through finding the right RV and financing without taking advantage of first-time buyers. You also want to be sure that they will provide you with professional assistance when you need it, whether that is on the day that you buy your first RV or when it needs to be serviced.


If you aren’t sure how to find a good RV dealer near you, you can enter your city or zip code into our convenient RV dealer search tool.

Make sure it’s inspected


Whether you are buying new or used, always make sure that the RV you are considering has been inspected and/or serviced. There’s no worse time to discover something is wrong with your RV than your first time taking it on a trip.


When you are looking at an RV, ask if it has been fully inspected (and if it is used, ask for the service history, as well). This will inform you whether the RV in question is ready for the road.


All Grand Design RVs undergo a 250-point inspection before they are shipped to a dealer, and they go through the same inspection again after delivery. This is precisely the kind of quality control you want in your future home away from home.

Have somewhere to put it


This seems obvious, but you need to be sure that you have the space to store your new RV. Don’t just approximate the size of the RV and your storage space. Take measurements and compare the two. You don’t want to take your RV home only to discover that you don’t actually have enough space for it. You’ll be frustrated and annoyed when you have to return your new toy until you can find a place to put it.


Measuring the space you have to store it will give you an idea of how large your RV can be. It’s possible that the RV you have in mind is larger than the space you have for it. Taking measurements can help eliminate costly miscalculations.

Choose the right floor plan


So, you know your vehicle’s towing capacity and you’ve measured your storage space; you should now have a good idea of the RV size category you should be considering. But as you’ve probably already discovered, there are a lot of floor plans out there. How do you know which one is right for you?


Looking at floor plans online, while somewhat helpful, should not determine which RV you buy. Rather, you should visit a local dealership and spend time in your RV options. Ask yourself if the layout is working for you, or if you would prefer to have rooms and features elsewhere. Maybe the RV you are looking at has a rear living room, but you feel like you would prefer this room in the front. 


Be picky! This is a big investment, so you shouldn’t settle for less than perfect.

Make a list of necessary accessories


Buying an RV is just one piece of the road-tripping puzzle. There is a very good chance that you will need to invest in some accessories to get the most out of your new RV. Things like a sewer hose, drinking water safe hose, and a water pressure regulator may all be necessary.


Then there are the optional (but much more fun) accessories like an upgraded shower head, awning sunshade, shatterproof barware, or maybe even an outdoor projector.


There are many accessories out there. Make a list of the ones that are most important to you and your lifestyle, and leave room in your budget to purchase them before you set out on your first excursion.

Don’t skimp on quality


Our final piece of advice is to pay attention to the quality of the product. Not only should the materials that make up your new RV be of the highest quality to increase the longevity of your purchase, it should also have been through a series of quality inspection gates during the manufacturing process.


Regrettably, most RV owners will tell you that they have to repair numerous major items missed by most manufacturers. This is why we have a 250-point inspection on every single one of our RVs. We didn’t just raise the bar for quality and excellence, we set it


Visit your local Grand Design RV dealership and ask them about purchasing your first RV today!