Tips, Tricks & Trends

The 2 Best Times a Year To Buy and RV and Save Thousands

When I was younger, I was tight on money and looking for a higher paying job, of which there were not many where I was living at the time. To help me catch up on bills, I took a job working on gas well drilling pads for a company that was working along the Pennsylvania and New York border. It was a job that required me to be onsite 24 hours a day. To that end, I bought a 24-foot RV camper trailer, got it insured, placed it onsite. 

Me and my RV

A black and white RV sits on a shore line with the awning deployed on a sunny day.
The Fuse RV | Winnebago

After getting the RV situated onsite, and living at the well-head for two weeks in my camper trailer, I found that I was having health problems, the kind that could be lethal. It was not related to the trailer. So, I gave my goodby to the employer and got myself and my trailer back home pronto. But, with no income, selling the trailer was the only option I had to pay bills. Thankfully, I bought it at the right time. So, when I sold it, I made all my money back. That usually does not happen.

Biggest discounts on RVs these two times

Let me explain. In my opinion, there are two times that are ideal for buying an RV. The first opportune time to purchase an RV is the point in time when they sell the least, such as late fall and through winter. The second ideal time to buy one is at an RV show. 

The Airstream Basecamp travel trailer is pulled behind a red Toyota pickup.
The Airstream Basecamp travel trailer | Airstream

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Historically, between October and January, the sales of RVs trail off a bit. So, dealerships start offering more impressive specials to move inventory. This happens across the board, from teardrop trailers, all the way up to the bus-sized motorhomes. It is also a time that dealers want to get rid of any remaining models from the previous model year. So, they are really motivated to sell.

Huge discounts are typical for the slow season

I bought my RV trailer in October in New York. Snowstorms had already been visiting throughout the mountainous region for weeks. The salesperson told me that sales had already started to trail off. In order to make the RVs more attractive to the fewer people entering the showroom, bigger discounts were being offered. He said this was the typical year-to-year activity for RV dealers entering the slow season. 

A white, double axle, pull behind trailer
The Clipper Ultra-Lite pull-behind camper from Coachmen | Coachmen

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Since I received such a good deal on the purchase of the RV camper trailer, I did not take such a big hit in depreciation. So, when I went to sell it, I was able to recoup the entire cost back. That does not normally happen. In my case, what made that possible was purchasing it originally at such a deep discount, during the slow season. 

RV shows will open your eyes

It turns out that as good as my savings were on the purchase, they did not prepare me for what I saw when I went to an RV show in Williamsburg, Virginia last year. RV shows are a great place to see every kind of RV. It will really open your eyes. This show was no exception. Easily over 1,000 motorhomes, fifth-wheels, and teardrop trailers filled an indoor convention space and the surrounding parking lots. This particular show was the last major RV show scheduled on the east coast last year. 

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Buying a display vehicle has its advantages

The remarkable thing was the discounts being offered on the display vehicles. I spoke with another salesperson who told me that they usually already have discounts on RVs, but, when a show comes up in the area, the manufacturer tells the dealers they can offer even deeper discounts. These can be in the tens of thousands. So, buying an RV at a show can have its advantages.

I did not review every single RV, but from what I personally saw, there were discounts from $5,000 on the smaller teardrop trailers, to as deep as $80,000 on some class B motorhomes. I suspect that if I looked a little more, I could have probably found even further discounts on the larger multi-million dollar rigs. 

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RV buyer beware

There is a concern here, though. Buyer beware. An RV being offered at a show does not mean that it is automatically a good deal. If the discounts is over 20-percent, then it would seem to be good. However, if you find the RV you like at a show, whip out your cell phone and do a quick search online to see if other dealers in the area are offering similar or better deals. It is always good to research before you buy. Having said that, an RV show is a great place to view so many different types of vehicles to help you decide.

After having spoken with a couple of salespeople and experiencing RV life myself, I have found that RV shows are a great time to save major dollars. So, is purchasing at the end of the year, as I did, especially once the poor weather conditions start to slow things down at dealerships. Overall, the savings can be substantial, which can make you feel better about your purchase. Best wishes on your search!