This article, adapted from HGTV, focuses on RVs but is a really good guide for buying any recreational vehicle.
• Rent before buying. Try renting first. Rule No. 1 for owning an RV is you have to use it. It can be difficult to determine if it’s right for you and your family if you have never done it. Plan a trip and kick the tires before you make a decision.
• Which type of RV is right for you? Research your needs, and factor in how you’d like to use the vehicle. If you plan to travel cross-country, a motorized RV might make more sense. If you plan to camp off the beaten path, a pop-up or truck camper would probably make more sense.
• New or used? A major consideration. Again, think about how you plan to use the RV. If you plan a couple of weekend trips or use it once out of the year, a used RV might be best. Remember, it won’t do any good having an RV if there isn’t money left to enjoy it.
• Test drive it. If you plan to purchase a motorized RV, be sure to drive it before you buy it. You want a motor home that you feel comfortable driving, because you will spend a lot of time behind the wheel. Check out all of the controls and make sure it performs the way you expect it to.
• Do your research. You need to do your research before you buy. There are lots of brands. You want an RV dealer and a manufacturer that will stand behind the product after the sale.
• Buy from a reputable dealership. Does it have certified technicians and facilities to do maintenance and warranty work? How long has it been in business? A reputable RV dealership can make your ownership much more pleasurable.
• Protect your investment. I recommend extended service contracts that go beyond the manufacturer warranty period. There are numerous plans available, so shop around. Make sure to get RV insurance coverage. It’s different from your home and auto policy.
• Back to rule No. 1. Remember, if you own an RV, use it. Otherwise it’s just a lawn ornament. So pack up the RV, head out to explore the country and build lasting memories with family and friends.
Information from Mark J. Polk, www.hgtv.com, provided by Cari Wilson, Cornerstone Community Credit Union, 414 61st St., Des Moines, 274-1460.