RV depreciation is not something we RVers like to talk about. It’s a well known fact that RVs depreciate quickly, and although they are certainly worth owning for the fun and freedom they offer, financially speaking…they really aren’t a good investment.
The good news? There are ways to reduce RV depreciation a bit so that the hit you take isn’t quite so painful. The tips and tricks below will help you buy wisely and sell for as much as possible once the time comes to change to a new rig.
Avoiding RV Depreciation: Buying Wisely
First, let’s talk about some things you should know about RV depreciation before you buy. Although RV depreciation should never be the only factor that comes into play when picking your home-on-wheels, these facts could help sway your decision one way or another, saving you thousands in the end.
Buy Used: New RVs Depreciate Quickly
Most people are well aware that a brand new car loses a lot of its value the second you drive it off the lot. The same is true of an RV. If you buy a brand new RV, as soon as you leave the dealership, the RV will no longer be worth what you paid.
For this reason, we suggest buying a lightly used RV instead. Something that is a year or two old will suffer less from depreciation immediately after you buy it—and as a bonus, the new RV kinks should be worked out as well.
Class C Motorhomes Hold Value Best
While the difference isn’t huge, of all the RV types, class C motorhomes hold their value the best. Class A and class B motorhomes are right behind class Cs, with travel trailers right beside them.
The worst type of rig when it comes to RV depreciation? Fifth wheels. This is unfortunate news for many families on the road, but it is the truth and should be considered when making your choice.
Older Travel Trailers Depreciate Slowly
Travel trailers experience RV depreciation at about the same rate as class A and class B motorhomes in the first 10 years. That said, when the trailer is well taken care of, the rate of depreciation tends to level off quite a bit after the ten-year mark.
This means trailers that are more than a decade old actually hold their value quite nicely, making an older travel trailer a viable option for those who want to avoid the effects of RV depreciation as much as possible.
Age Before Mileage
In the case of cars, mileage is everything. A newer car with more miles will often be worth less than an older car with fewer miles. When it comes to RVs, this isn’t always the case.
You see, a motorhome that has been left sitting for years is bound to have issues. Therefore, an older motorhome with very few miles may not be a good purchase and thus may not be worth more than an older motorhome with more miles. Likewise, newer motorhomes that are in good condition with moderately high mileage might sell for a decent price.
RV Depreciation Tips: Protecting Your Asset
Once you have the keys to your RV, it’s up to you to maintain it in such a way that RV depreciation doesn’t bite you in the butt too terribly hard. This is easier said than done, and it can be very easy to let these things go when life gets busy, so find a way to make yourself stay on top of them.
Use Your RV Regularly
As mentioned above, an RV that isn’t used tends to have problems, and this decreases the value. Avoid excessive RV depreciation by using your RV regularly. Obviously, if you’re living in the rig this won’t be an issue, but if you plan to use it only for vacations and getaways, it is something you’ll need to plan around.
Stay on Top of Maintenance
RV maintenance is so, so important. A tiny leak that isn’t taken care of right away can quickly turn into a huge mess of water damage that takes thousands of dollars to repair. Clearly, a rig with water damage is worth much less than a solid RV, so keeping up with resealing everything is a must.
Other maintenance tasks that should be kept up with in order to keep your RV’s value as high as possible include oil changes, generator maintenance, and tire and wheel maintenance.
Repair Damages Quickly
In RVs, things break. This is inevitable. When this happens, be sure to make the repair as quickly as possible. In some cases, a small amount of damage can lead to bigger damages down the line if not taken care of right away, something that will absolutely reduce the overall value of your rig.
Find Covered Storage
Covered storage can help you avoid some amount of RV depreciation as well. This is because having a roof over your RV will prevent damage from wind and hail. It can also help prevent water damage in case of an undetected leak. Lastly, a cover over your RV will protect the sides and roof of your trailer or motorhome from the sun, reducing fading and preventing unsightly peeling decals.
Recouping Money Lost to RV Depreciation
You will never be able to prevent RV depreciation entirely. That said, by following the steps above, you can definitely help maintain your RV’s value. Additionally, you can do your best to recoup some of the money lost to RV depreciation by using the tips below.
Renting Your RV
If you aren’t living in your RV and it doesn’t get used every weekend, you could choose to rent it out. This would ensure the RV is getting regular use and will remind you to say on top of maintenance tasks. Those rental fees will also help you recoup some of the costs of RV ownership.
Of course, you do have to take into account both the potential for damages and the increased maintenance costs involved in renting your rig before deciding if this is a worthwhile endeavor.
Knowing When to Sell
Lastly, when it comes to selling your RV for as much as possible, it helps a lot to know when to sell. Selling in the springtime is ideal, as this is when people are looking to start their camping season. It is also a good idea to keep an eye on the fluctuations of RV prices and sell when prices seem to be on the higher side, especially if you don’t plan to turn around and buy another RV right away.
There you have it, our top tips for reducing the impact of RV depreciation. Put these tips to good use while buying, owning, and selling an RV and you should be able to keep thousands of dollars that may have been lost to depreciation otherwise.