Whether you own a teardrop camper trailer or a diesel-powered motorhome, RVing provides you the freedom to roam where and when you want before planting your stakes at a rustic campground or scenic resort—not some seedy inn or cookie-cutter hotel located miles from the action of the outdoors.
Every year, thousands of RVers trade up to a new recreational vehicle with more room and newer, more advanced amenities. There comes a time when every RV owner, whether they’ve had their coach for two years or 20, decides it’s time to upgrade.
Thanks to recent innovations, RVs have become much more user-friendly and advanced than they used to be. Residential-quality kitchen appliances, assisted steering, LED TVs, ultra-maneuverable chassis, and automatic generators all represent available technology that might be missing from your current motorhome, trailer, or fifth wheel. These innovations have dramatically improved engine efficiency, energy usage, in-dashboard navigation, and storage capacity. When you see these advances, you may feel enticed to trade in your RV for an upgraded model, or maybe switch to a different class.
Should you find yourself on the cusp of becoming a “full-timer,” you may discover that your weekender RV isn’t up to the task of acting as your primary residence. Features and comforts you never thought about become necessary to living comfortably on a full-time basis. If this sounds like your situation, a larger, more residential arrangement is the answer.
For you, that time may be now. It can be tough to know where to begin—and how to go about—the RV trade-in process.
Whatever your reason for trading up, this guide can assist you in navigating the most important aspects of trading in your current unit. You can save yourself some cash when you apply a generous trade value credit to your new, upgraded purchase. We’ve outlined five things to keep in mind as you prepare your RV for trade-in to ensure you receive the maximum value credit.
A bucket of household cleaning supplies and a little elbow grease can transform your RV’s appearance from “worn down” to “like-new” in less than a day’s time. A coach that sparkles and shines both inside and out can have a significant positive impact on its trade-in or resale value.
Start by washing your RV’s exterior and addressing any cosmetic damage the best you can. If your paint appears dull, consider waxing it or paying someone to detail it for you. I prefer Meguiar’s product line.
Check the roof for signs of damage, rust, or mold, especially around vents and in and around any awnings or cloth-like materials. The same goes for windows which can collect moisture, mold, and rust from precipitation. Be sure to clean the windows inside and out.
Check the tires, fill them to their recommended pressure and, if necessary, rotate them. Examine them for excessive wear and replace them if necessary. In most cases, RV tires age out before they wear out.
Other items often overlooked? Windshield wipers, side mirrors, and doorsteps are all apt to show signs of wear and tear, mold, or rust.
Some simple repairs may be in order for the interior of your RV. You’ll want to check to see if any of the cabinet or door hinges are loose and make sure all of the power outlets are functioning. If you’ve experienced issues with any of your appliances, consider having an electrician check the wiring. In some cases, reupholstering can also increase the trade-in value.
All appliances should be clean and in proper operating condition. Gather any owner’s guides or instruction manuals.
Engine, Batteries & Maintenance
Making sure your travel vehicle is in good working order and sound mechanical condition are the two most important aspects when it comes to receiving maximum value for your trade or sale.
Take the RV in for maintenance and scheduled service and be sure to get an idea of the condition of your engine and battery. Ask the technicians working on your RV to keep an eye out for ways to increase the value of the RV.
General Style and Cleanliness
Ensure your RV interior makes a first great impression: vacuum, wipe down surfaces, dust, clean out cabinets, and shampoo upholstery or carpets if necessary. Consider what future buyers’ impression of the cabin will be. Does it have an odd or stale odor or dated or out-of-place styling?
Gather All Paperwork
Ensure all important documents and paperwork is available, including the deed, transferable warranty, mileage and year, service and maintenance records, purchase receipts (tires, wiper blades, batteries, aftermarket items, etc.), documented changes that you’ve made to the RV over time, and any other documents you’ve accrued during the ownership of the RV.
Other key documents include your RV owner’s manual; paperwork or instruction booklets associated with appliances, electronics, and aftermarket items; and current registration.
Far too late to understand many of the missed goals in life:
Joy, beauty of nature, health, travel, and culture,
Therefore, man is, time-wise!
High time is it! Travel, travel!
—Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908)