When it comes to buying an RV, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to purchase from a private seller or a dealer. Both options have their pros and cons, and it’s important to weigh them carefully before making a decision. In this article, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of buying from a private seller versus a dealer, as well as provide some tips for conducting a thorough RV inspection.

Furthermore, we’ll delve into the specifics of what to look for in an RV, how to negotiate prices, and what to expect in terms of maintenance and upkeep. Whether you’re a seasoned RV owner or a first-time buyer, this guide will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.

Private Sale: Pros and Cons


One of the biggest advantages of buying an RV from a private seller is the potential for cost savings. Private sellers often list their RVs at lower prices compared to dealerships, as they don’t have the overhead costs associated with running a business. This can be especially beneficial if you’re on a tight budget or looking for a specific model that may be harder to find at a dealership.

Another advantage of buying from a private seller is the opportunity for a more personalized buying experience. Private sellers are typically more willing to negotiate on price and may be more flexible with payment options. Additionally, they may be more knowledgeable about the specific RV they’re selling, as they have likely used it themselves and can provide firsthand information about its condition and history.

Moreover, buying from a private seller can often lead to a quicker and more straightforward transaction. Without the need for dealership paperwork and processes, you may be able to drive away with your new RV sooner than you would when buying from a dealer.


While there are certainly advantages to buying from a private seller, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. One of the main concerns is the lack of warranty or guarantee that typically comes with purchasing from a dealer. When buying from a private seller, you assume all responsibility for the condition of the RV, and any repairs or issues that arise after the sale will be your responsibility.

Another potential disadvantage is the limited selection of RVs available from private sellers. Dealerships often have a wide range of models and brands to choose from, whereas private sellers may only have one or two options available. This can make it more difficult to find the exact RV you’re looking for, especially if you have specific requirements or preferences.

Furthermore, private sellers may not offer the same level of customer service or after-sales support as a dealership. If you encounter any issues or have questions after the sale, you may not have a dedicated point of contact to turn to for assistance.

Dealer: Pros and Cons


One of the biggest advantages of buying from a dealer is the peace of mind that comes with a warranty or guarantee. Dealerships typically offer some form of warranty on their RVs, which can provide added protection and reassurance. This can be especially important if you’re buying a used RV, as it can help cover any unexpected repairs or issues that may arise shortly after the purchase.

Another advantage of buying from a dealer is the wider selection of RVs available. Dealerships often have a large inventory of new and used RVs from various manufacturers, making it easier to find the perfect RV for your needs. Additionally, dealerships may offer financing options and trade-in opportunities, which can make the buying process more convenient and affordable.

Moreover, dealerships often provide a range of additional services, such as maintenance and repair, parts and accessories, and even RV storage. This can be a major advantage if you’re new to RV ownership and need support in maintaining and caring for your new vehicle.


While buying from a dealer has its advantages, there are also some potential downsides to consider. One of the main concerns is the higher price tag associated with purchasing from a dealership. Dealerships have higher overhead costs, which are often reflected in the price of their RVs. If you’re on a tight budget, buying from a dealer may not be the most cost-effective option.

Another potential disadvantage is the potential for a less personalized buying experience. Dealerships are often busier and more focused on making sales, which can make it more difficult to negotiate on price or ask detailed questions about the RV. Additionally, dealerships may not have the same level of firsthand knowledge about the RVs they’re selling, as they often acquire them through trade-ins or auctions.

Furthermore, while dealerships may offer a wider selection of RVs, they may not have the specific model or brand you’re looking for. If you have very specific requirements or preferences, you may need to wait for the dealership to acquire the right RV, or you may need to compromise on your preferences.

Conducting an RV Inspection

Regardless of whether you choose to buy from a private seller or a dealer, it’s important to conduct a thorough inspection of the RV before making a purchase. Here are some key areas to focus on during the inspection:

  • Exterior: Check for any signs of damage, such as dents, scratches, or rust. Inspect the roof for leaks or damage, and ensure all doors and windows open and close properly. Also, check the tires for wear and ensure the RV is level when parked.
  • Interior: Inspect the walls, floors, and ceilings for any signs of water damage or mold. Test all appliances, including the stove, refrigerator, and air conditioning unit, to ensure they’re in working order. Also, check the condition of the furniture and storage areas.
  • Mechanical Systems: Check the engine, transmission, and other mechanical components for any signs of wear or damage. Test the brakes, suspension, and steering to ensure they’re functioning properly. Also, check the condition of the exhaust system and look for any signs of leaks.
  • Electrical Systems: Test all lights, switches, and outlets to ensure they’re working correctly. Check the battery and generator to ensure they’re in good condition. Also, check the condition of the wiring and look for any signs of damage or wear.
  • Plumbing Systems: Inspect the water pump, faucets, and toilets for any leaks or damage. Test the water heater and ensure all drains are functioning properly. Also, check the condition of the tanks and look for any signs of leaks or damage.
  • Documentation: Ask for any maintenance records, service history, or previous inspection reports. This can provide valuable insight into the RV’s condition and any potential issues to be aware of. Also, check the title and registration to ensure they’re in order and there are no outstanding liens on the RV.

By thoroughly inspecting the RV, you can identify any potential problems or issues before making a purchase. This can help you make an informed decision and avoid any costly surprises down the road. Additionally, it can provide you with valuable information for negotiating the price and terms of the sale.


When it comes to buying an RV, the decision between a private seller and a dealer ultimately depends on your individual needs and preferences. Private sellers offer potential cost savings and a more personalized buying experience, while dealerships provide warranties and a wider selection of RVs. Regardless of which option you choose, conducting a thorough RV inspection is essential to ensure you’re making a wise investment. By weighing the pros and cons and taking the time to inspect the RV, you can make an informed decision and find the perfect RV for your adventures.

In the end, the most important thing is to choose an RV that fits your lifestyle and budget. Whether you’re planning a cross-country road trip, a weekend camping getaway, or a full-time RV lifestyle, the right RV can provide you with the freedom and flexibility to explore the open road on your own terms. Happy RV hunting!