What To *Really* Expect When You Purchase An RV {Hidden Expenses and All!}

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“I had no idea how expensive an RV this size would really be!” I said to Lazy Dad just a few days ago.  And it’s true.  I had NO idea.  As the gal at the DMV said to us when we were paying the tax on it and getting it titled, “You just bought yourself an expensive toy!”  Boy did we!

If you have ever, or will ever, consider purchasing a new Class A unit yourself, here’s an almost complete list of the types of expenses you can expect during the process of purchasing and afterwards.  Including “hidden” and completely unexpected expenses I had no idea we’d be paying for!  Keep in mind the costs I’m listing below may be different in your case, so consider these “ball park” numbers.

You ready?

Here we go!

When you purchase a new Class A RV…

  • Expect to put down a deposit.  This tells the dealership you are serious about buying it and holds it until financing is approved. Cost: $500 – this deposit was returned to us, but we used some of it to purchase recommended RV items from the dealership’s parts store (more on that below).
  • Expect to pay a down payment. Expect to put 10-20% down on a new motor home.  Cost: Varies – The percentage is decided by the bank that is financing your loan.  We just so happened to score NO MONEY DOWN! Woohoo!
  • Expect document preparation fees.  On our loan papers, there was a fee for preparing all the paperwork.  Cost: $200 – this was worked into our monthly payments.
  • Expect an RV prep fee.  This prep fee is what you pay for the dealership to get your RV ready for you (top off the gas, propane, clean the inside, etc.).  Ours was presented to us as several thousands of dollars worth of prep for a discounted lower rate.  Meant to look like you got a “deal”, in my opinion.  I’m not sure it was.  Cost: $895 – this was worked into our monthly payments.
  • Expect upselling of warranty coverages. I had no idea how much they would try to sell us.  Be prepared to be presented with lots of things you will suddenly “need” to “protect your investment.”  We didn’t go for all of it, but we did purchase  the following: vehicle coverage, tire coverage, roadside assistance coverage and GAP insurance coverage – (if you are in an accident this covers the gap between what you owe and the actual cash value of your RV) – Cost: $3,913 – this was worked into our monthly payments, which added roughly $20/mo to our payment.
  • Expect upselling of other services.  For instance, as soon as we were approved for our financing and we were told the RV was ours, the next words out of their mouths was, “Did you know you have to wax your RV and your roof twice a year in order to not void your manufacturer warranty?” Uh… NO. We were then presented with our first upsell: ResistAll® – A protective coat for the outside (protects the paint) and inside (protects the fabric) of the RV. Allows for no waxing of outside for five years.  Cost: $60 per foot, for us: $1,800 – this was worked into our monthly payments.
  • Expect to purchase insurance. Before you can drive off the lot you’ll have to purchase insurance for your new RV.  We were given several different options to choose from.  We had to make a first payment/deposit of sorts.  Cost: $100.80, and then $74.42/mo
  • Expect plates and title expenses. We were given a temporary plate for so many days until we could get our RV titled and get new plates for it in Ohio (we purchased the RV in Michigan).  Cost: Title – $17.00, Plates – $90.00
  • Expect for taxes to be high! We paid $4,142.18 in taxes alone the day we signed the paperwork! Of course this was worked into our monthly payment. BUT because we purchased the RV in Michigan, we had to then pay the difference in taxes for Ohio IN CASH the day we titled it. OUCH!!! Cost: $1,295.97
  • Expect a storage fee. After your purchase your new RV, you have to store it somewhere!  In our case, we pay a monthly storage fee to store our RV at a storage unit that has space for such large items.  Cost: $34.24/mo
  • Expect to purchase items that are not included with your RV.  This I was pretty surprised by.  I thought for sure our RV would come with the necessary items you need to put water in it and dump from it, but it wasn’t included.  These are items that you will need almost immediately if they aren’t included: a sewer kit (for dumping) Cost: $42.95 – a fresh water hose (for filling) Cost: $27.95.
  • Expect to purchase items they highly recommend you purchase for your RV (but maybe not immediately necessary).  For us, we purchased the following: slide out rubber seal spray $13.95 – clearview adapter for sewer hose $13.95 – water pressure regulator (for water hose when filling) $16.95 – outside screens for furnace and fridge vents (prevent bugs from entering and building nests, as they are attracted to the heat they put off) $20.95 for two – air vents (protects your RV’s interior from rain damage while allowing your roof vent to remain open) we purchased Maxx Air Vents for $39.95 for one (we needed two) + the labor cost of installing them (around $100).  Items we did NOT purchase, but were still recommended that we should: an RV cover (if storing outside) around $400-600+ depending on what you buy – a surge protector (protects from surges, brown-outs, faulty wiring at hookups) $289.95 (we actually just purchased this item with a protective lock during a 4th of July sale for a pretty good deal: $237.44) – holding tank chemicals (we are still using the little one that comes with the manual) – anywhere from $10-30 depending on what you want.
  • Expect to pay for a front tire alignment after you have your RV fully loaded. The technician that showed us how to operate everything on our RV recommended loading the RV the way we will have it when traveling (supplies, food, clothes, everything!) and then take the loaded RV to a tire alignment shop to get the front tires aligned.  This will cause your tires to not wear the wrong way. Cost: $75.00
  • Expect gas to fill up your RV to be a pretty penny!  Oh man!  With an 80 gallon tank it costs a lot to fill ‘er up!  Cost: About $300 a pop.
  • Expect to purchase many new items for your RV.  Now that you’ve purchased an RV, you have to fill it!  It’s almost like outfitting a whole new house.  Many things we already owned from a previous camper we had and some things we pulled out of our house, but there were many other items we did purchase from thrift stores, dollar stores and big box stores.  View our Master RV Pack List that is a complete list of what you need inside your RV.  Items in blue we already owned, items in purple we purchased.  Cost: for us, $187.92
  • Expect to spend several hours at the dealership on the day you pick up your new RV. A technician will go over every inch of the unit with you.  They show you how everything works inside and out, answer questions, give you general tips, and recommend additional products you will need immediately, or are highly recommended in the near future (see above).

The above list of expenses when you are purchasing a new RV is pretty comprehensive.  So, here’s the short and skinny of it…. Even though we got an incredible purchase price, after taxes, upsells, a lot of the above, etc., we financed A LOT more than the agreed upon price!  In fact, if you are looking to purchase a Class A RV, I would tell you to add roughly about $10,000-$12,000 to the agreed upon price to see what you will REALLY be financing after all the paperwork is signed!  And I didn’t even touch on the expenses of towing a vehicle behind your Class A!  (We aren’t doing that as of yet.)

But now that we’ve talked about what to expect expense wise, here are a few perks to possibly expect when you purchase your new RV (varies from dealership to dealership, obviously)…

  • Complimentary bottled water – hey don’t snort!  I took full advantage of anything the dealership was willing to give me for free!  They offered us bottled water?  I took it.  A lot.
  • Being considered a VIP costumer.  Our dealership makes anyone who purchases a new unit from them a VIP customer. This puts you at the front of the line in front of regular customers for any time you need something serviced on your unit.
  • 10% discount on parts (and possibly labor).  This was another perk from purchasing from this dealership.  10% off their parts (and I think maybe their labor, I can’t remember).
  •  A complimentary small bottle of holding tank chemicals that comes with your toilet manual.  I know, I know… another perk to snort over, but still.  Free is free.  We’re still using ours.
  • Free camping and membership clubs included with purchase.  Another perk to buying new was a free camping certificate for about 14 days of free camping in Michigan.  We also received a complimentary 1 year membership in an RV club.
  • A 1 year warranty from the manufacturer.  Now, we bought an extended warranty, but if you don’t, you at least have a 1 year warranty!

So that’s it!  Everything you can expect when you purchase a new RV!  If you have any questions about what we purchased above or to add to our list, please leave a comment below!

And be sure and follow our big RV trip out west from July 18th – August 20th!  We’ll be using the hashtag #LazyRVAdventure on all our social media!  You can find links to follow us on those channels below.

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