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What should I look for in buying a new RV Trailer?. My advice: TAKE YOUR TIME! When I first began my journey into the world of RVing, I decided to take a year before I bought one. I was as green as it comes to buying an RV trailer when I first started. Needing to sit back and take a breath, I knew I needed to learn as much as I possibly could about RV’s and to wrap my head around the whole concept of ownership and what I needed to make my journey safe. I don’t claim to be an expert but hopefully will bring things to your attention you may have overlooked.
Buying a new RV trailer is not only exciting but can also be brain-numbing. What type of RV, how do they work, etc. Just looking at various models can get your head spinning!
What do you need to know when buying an RV Trailer?
Know what type of RV you are in the market for, I prefer the Travel Trailer. Which trailer you choose will depend on your tow weight vehicle rating.
Know what the RV trailer is worth. I generally look at RV dealers throughout the USA. I have seen as much as a nine thousand dollar difference in price for the same year and model. You do not want to pay more than you have to. Check places like RV Trader and NADA RV Value. I would never buy an RV for less than 30 percent off MSRP. Just keep in mind that you will likely not get this type of discount during the peak season. Fall and Winter is the best time for some great deals!
How is an RV Trailer made?
First, let’s look at the types of travel trailers and how they are constructed. We will also look at the pros and cons of each type. I will cover the two main types that you come across, Stick & Tin and Aluminum Frame with Aluminum side walls ( My favorite so far).
Wood-framed with aluminum siding (similar to what you see on many houses)
This type of construction will be the cheapest of the RV’s trailers made. Steel Frame, wood floors, wood studs, sprayed or sheet insulation, luan wood decor backing on the inside with aluminum panels on the outside. Usually, these models will not have a sealed enclosed underbelly. However, you can find models that do.
- These travel trailers cost less to build for the manufacturer.
- It will be easier to repair over a fiberglass body and a lot cheaper!
- More trailer per dollar.
- UV Damage minimized; this can be controlled by washing and waxing yearly.
- tends to be heavier
- Prone to termites
Going through this type of RV travel trailer, I found a lot of shady work, especially the Jayco brand, which I thought was supposed to be the better brand. Here are some of the things I found. Bathroom showers did not have enough support under the floor. Holes for pipes were more significant than they needed to be, and all had irregular cuts. Molding, in some cases, did not go all the way to the ceiling. With that said, I just felt these companies could have better quality control and have compassion in the work they do.
Aluminum frame and fiberglass
Walls are up of 1 to 1 ½ inch thick foam insulation, luan wood backing glued to a fiberglass skin. This method is my less favorite only because if water gets in the walls, you are going to deal with delamination and repairs that will be costly, possibly. Some manufactures are now using Azdel®, which is mold, rot, and water-resistant. Adzel® is twice as strong as wood and 50% lighter, three times more insulating than wood, and creates an excellent sound barrier, and temperature and humidity change tolerant.
To be honest, I am looking at purchasing a Lance travel trailer for this reason. They do not use luan wood backing in their RV’s. Their method of construction consists of layers of fiberglass, Azdel backing, foam, and Azdel decor backing, making for a robust sidewall and flooring. I believe this method can keep delamination from happening.
- Less wind resistance due to the smooth front caps.
- Easier to maintain looks and cleans better the aluminum RVs.
- Impenetrable to termites.
- Aluminum does not rust.
- It will last longer than wood construction.
- Lighter weight, so you should have improved gas mileage.
- Better resale value.
- UV damage over time ( If not cleaned and waxed yearly)
- De-Lamination which would be costly to repair any damage.
- Roof Construction
There are many reasons why the enclosed underbelly is a must-have, in my opinion. First, the underbelly will protect the floor structure from road debris such as flying rocks, etc. Second, by keeping moisture away from the floor structure, it is protected while hauling the trailer. Third, if you plan on using the travel trailer year-round, it will help keep the pipes from freezing, and lastly, the energy savings when heating or cooling.
Single Axle vs. Dual Axle
I am not a big fan of a single axle travel trailer. The thought of driving down the highway at 60 mph and having a tire blow seems scary to me at least with a dual axle I still have three tires to drive on. A double-axle will give you better stability and control driving down the road. Also, with a single axle, you will not be able to carry as much in the RV trailer. Sway will also be an issue. Overall a dual axle will be easier to pull and more comfortable to maneuver.
Double-paned windows or not is totally up to you. I like the idea of the double-paned windows. I can see the advantage of keeping the RV trailer cooler in the summer months and warmer in the colder months will significantly depend on if you are using the RV Travel trailer year-round.
It might be something you would want to consider depending on how you plan on using the RV. If you plan on boondocking, the volume will matter. A larger tank could mean staying out for a week or two versus a few days. Remember, you will need to consider how close you are to getting fresh water and dumping your grey and black tanks. For people new to RVs, the Grey tank is holding water from the shower and sinks. Your Black tank will keep the sewage from the commode.
Warranties in the RV industry do not mean a whole lot to me. From what I am seeing, most manufacturers do not stand behind their products. Any warranty work you need performing could take months. If the problem occurs in the spring or early summer, it may be a significant problem. You will simply be out of luck when it comes to using your camper. Another problem is that all the fixtures and electronics like your refrigerator, stove, air conditioner, stereo, etc.., will fall under the different manufacturers who made that device. I would like to see a day when all warranty work fell under the brand of RV you purchased.
Types of RV Roofs
I am not going to get technical. I’ll point out the basics.
1) EPDM is a membrane-type rubber made from recycled materials. The advantage is roofing material comes in long sheets, so the travel trailer is usually one sheet roof. These roofs have a longevity of 25 years. The cost of replacing this roof is much cheaper to replace. The disadvantage is that EPDM absorbs heat fast
2) TPO, which is short for Thermoplastic Polyolefin, comes in the form of a rubber membrane. Most TPO roofs are white and cost-effective. The advantages are as follows: it’s exceptional at reflecting UV rays; this helps with lowing your heating and cooling cost. It is resistant to tears or punctures, and it will resist mold, dirt, algae, and other types of debris. The disadvantage is that the roof will last 10 – 20 years.
3) Fiberglass roof is a mix of synthetic materials and glass fibers. The advantage of a fiberglass roof is that it is lightweight and durable. You will never have to worry about rot or mold. The disadvantage is that roof damage can be expensive. another point is that the roof is not heat resistant.
4) Aluminum roof (Airstreams) – the only real disadvantage here would be the seams coming loose and the RV not being able to reflect any heat.
No matter which roof you decide on, keeping it clean needs to be a top priority. Washing the roof 3-4 times a year is recommended.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when buying your first RV. My hope from this article is that it gets you thinking. Just take your time, and in the end, you will be much happier with your purchase.