I own a small RV rental company and we recently sold our pop-up tent camper and replaced it with a new one. The unit we sold was ten years old and had seen some hard use. However, it was in perfect mechanical condition and aside from some cosmetic blemishes it showed like a new camper. The purchaser bought it for almost a thousand dollars under the blue book price.
That camper will give its new owners many years of carefree camping. I needed to sell it because the maintenance costs were getting to be too high for my business. The new owner will most likely use the camper from two to three weeks during the next year. I would have had it rented for more than twenty weeks during the season here in Wisconsin.
The ten-year-old camper would have really started to show its age with another season of constant day in and day out camping in the rental market. But with its new owner it will spend the majority of its new life sitting unused on the driveway.
I sold the camper two weeks after its last rental. I would not have rented it if it had not been in first class condition. Those of us in the RV rental business simply cannot afford to have a breakdown. The towing costs are sky high for RVs and usually they are a long distance away from their home base. Most importantly, we want the renter to have a trouble free vacation.
As a rule an RV which has been in the rental market has had better maintenance than one owned privately. At the very least it has had more attentive maintenance. Let me explain.
An RV is a combination of two mechanical systems. First it’s a vehicle. This is true whether it is towed or it is a self-contained motor home. There is specific vehicle type maintenance on all RVs. The second system is the accommodation. By this I mean the kitchen, air-conditioning, plumbing, furnace, and electrical. These systems are unique to the RV and require special maintenance. What causes most failures in these systems is that the RV moves. Things simply loosen up over time.
A rental RV is given a thorough inspection twice with every rental. Once when the renter picks up the unit and once when the renter returns the unit. I can inspect a unit up to six times a week. If anything is found to be wrong, it is repaired immediately before it becomes a major problem. A privately owned RV is lucky to get such a thorough inspection once in its lifetime.
Camping is done outdoors in the dirt and campers get dirty. A rental camper is usually cleaned twice with each rental, once by the renter and then again by the rental company. If we scrub the entire canvass, under the mattresses, the ceiling, and into the corners each time we rent the RV it will always be clean for years to come. I don’t expect the renters to clean as thoroughly as we do but the unit is always returned clean. The private RV may only get a good scrubbing twice a year.
Today’s RV tires don’t wear out. They rot out. A tire can look like it has plenty of tread but the sidewalls will simply give out. The RV rental industry knows this and once more cannot afford breakdowns. You most likely will get good serviceable tires on a used RV from a rental company. We change ours every year on the pop-up since the small wheels spin so fast at highway speeds and the tires get very hot.
Even though the RV you buy from the rental market will probably of had better maintenance and be cleaner than a comparable unit from a private owner you will pay less from the rental dealer. The market simply states that an RV coming out of rental will be sold for less money than one being sold by a private individual. You the consumer reap the benefit.
Do not be afraid of the heavy use the rental RV has had. The mechanics are built to be used and not stored and with proper service they will last many years. And remember that now you will be using the RV much less than it was being used. As with any major purchase it is wise to have the RV checked out by a certified RV technician. If you are purchasing a motor home have the vehicle drive train checked out by a trusted mechanic. Good luck with your purchase and happy camping.