BECU: Who is your typical RV buyer?
WR: It's really a wide range; the demographics are kind of widespread from small families to retired people.
BECU: Not just retirees, then?
WR: The retired people myth is truly not the case; it's more of a mix.
BECU: Are RVs expensive – how do they afford them?
WR: We sell vehicles from $10,000 to $400,000. It depends on what you want – RV dealers often have starter trailers and little 16' travel trailers; those buyers are typically first-time buyers, young families or even the single guy who wants a hunting trailer.
BECU: Can an average car pull the small trailers?
WR: Oh, sure. We have vehicles weighing 1500 lbs. that you can pull with a smaller car, like a Subaru. Some of the retro looking vehicles, a tear-drop, can even be pulled with a normal SUV.
BECU: What size trailer do most people buy?
WR: It really varies. If someone already has a vehicle to tow it with, they usually match something that fits their towing capabilities. Just ask the dealer to help you pick based on your vehicle.
BECU: How about the RVs: Are they difficult to drive?
WR: There are typically three different classes: The Class B is like driving a car. The Class C is a bigger unit, but it's still fairly easy to drive. Some may feel intimated to drive a big Class A, but people get used to it.
Sometimes our guys will have the buyers get acclimated to driving – take them to an open parking lot, that sort of thing. Don't be afraid to ask the dealer to take a test drive.
BECU: Do you need a special license?
WR: Nope; anyone can drive one.
BECU: How bad is the gas mileage?
WR: It can be bad! But you might be surprised – some of them can be in the 18 miles-per-gallon range. Of course, some of the big ones, sure, are 7 – 8 miles a gallon. Don't let that stop you right away, though: It's not like a car where you're driving 15,000 miles a year – you might be going 5,000 miles a year. Be sure to consider your actual annual mileage.
There's also the diesel option. For example, if you want to pull a car behind your RV, you would get a little bit more power in a diesel. There's usually – especially along the freeway – many gas stations with diesel available.
BECU: What about parking: Is it tough to find?
WR: It can be. The smaller ones are easy to pull into any spot. If you're in a 40' Class A model, you kind of need to plan your route ahead of time; you can't just pop into a parking space. A little research goes a long way. A lot of places, such as Wal-Mart, will accommodate RVers.
BECU: New or used?
WR: Just like buying a car, there are advantages to both. When you buy new, then it's just that – brand new. The difference between RVs and cars is that people spend time in these things – kitchen, bathroom, beds – so if you want something where no one has stayed before, there's that advantage. Plus you can get a warranty; all the things that are helpful when buying new.
Of course, you can also get a nice price on a late-model used. Plus, people usually don't put a lot of miles on them as they're not driven very much. You can get a warranty on a used one as well – check with the dealer.
BECU: Is a warranty recommended?
WR: You can get an extended service contract just like a car. The nice thing about an RV warranty is you can cover everything from your stove and refrigerator to the air conditioner.
BECU: No. 1 advice for an RV shopper?
WR: First of all, make sure you understand your budget. There are so many different kinds of RVs and trailers that you really need to know what you desire: How many people you want to sleep; do you want to pull it or drive it; what is your ideal floor plan, etc. With each model type there's such a huge selection and variety.
BECU: What about renting vs. buying?
WR: There are some companies that rent RVs. The RVs tend to be pretty basic – things can break as they're used pretty often. But it's not a bad idea if you want to see your comfort level driving it.
I would recommend going to an RV dealer's website and look at all the different models, price ranges and how they're appointed.