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Personal and Business Banking

Recreational Vehicle Guide

StreetWise Consumer Education Program

Recreational Vehicle
  • Summary
  • Article



  1. What you need to know about buying an RV
  2. And how StreetWise can help


A home on wheels! Who needs hotels? Who needs restaurants? An RV – whether it's a luxury six-wheeled motorhome powered by a diesel engine or a two-wheeled tow-along attached to the back of your VW Bug – can be a magic carpet for you and your family. What's to worry about?

Well, actually, you have lots to worry about if you haven't done your homework before you become the owner of a recreational vehicle, particularly if you're buying a self-powered model or any used model, self-powered or not. And there are some key questions you should answer before you buy even a glorified tent for two.

Whether you are shopping for new or used, big or little, the key to owner satisfaction is getting the most for your money in the areas of safety, quality and reliability. Because there are relatively few safety and construction guidelines in place for RVs, doing your homework is crucially important.

  • Well, you ask, can't the sellers tell me what I need to know?

    The sellers can tell you the basics, and can rattle off their sales spiels effortlessly. But in the real world, sellers of RVs are usually no more forthright than sellers of automobiles. For instance, few if any RV sellers are going to tell you if their models have problems with design, safety or maintenance. In fact, in the free marketplace, that's not their job – making money is. So helping you find out the information you need to make wise decisions is the StreetWise RV Guide's goal.

  • Why is buying an RV smart harder than buying a car smart?

    RVs can eat money. This can be true even if you're buying a used, small tow-behind pop-up trailer for $2,000. Why? Repairs on any RV can be substantial. Replacing the axle on that tiny trailer could cost you more than a thousand.

    In addition to purchase price, consider these other costs:

    • What about "use" costs?

      If you're buying a motorhome, gas and oil expenses alone can wreck a budget, even if it's a small motorhome.

    • What about insurance?

      The insurance cost climbs dramatically as the size grows, and generally will cost you more than a comparably priced car.

    • Maintenance?

      RVs generally require much more maintenance than cars, and larger motor homes can require very specialized mechanics who generally cost more than car mechanics.

    • Storage?

      Some neighborhoods won't let you store your RV in your backyard--and paid storage can be expensive.

    • Towing?

      If you are buying a travel trailer, fifth-wheel trailer, or even a pop-up camper, can your current vehicle do the job? Or will you need a new vehicle adequate to the job?

So many ways to get in trouble financially – and all you wanted to do was have some fun with the family!

That's why you wisely are doing your homework. And that's why you're reading the StreetWise RV Guide! Our guide will help you answer key questions as it saves you thousands and thousands of dollars. We then give you links to trustworthy resources to teach you even more. Use these tools wisely, and exploring the byways of the world will be the great escape you've always dreamed it would be.

So, let's make some decisions!