10 Tips on Buying a Motorhome

Photography by: IMAGES: TRAILLITE/SMARTRV/SUPPLIED


Ready to buy your first motorhome? Here are some tips to help get you started

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Purchasing a motorhome is a big investment and a significant commitment, which means there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right one for you, especially since getting it wrong can be costly. Our friends at TrailLite have helped put together a few tips to simplify your motorhome purchase journey.

Step 1
Do your research

The average time motorhome purchasers spend researching is around nine months. This means taking your time to really understand your intentions behind your purchase and what kind of lifestyle you have in mind. For example, are you looking to travel at the weekends only or do you want to hit the road for weeks at a time? During your research you should be asking yourself a few key questions.

  • What is your lifestyle dream? 
  • Will you mainly travel as an individual, couple, or family?
  • Do you have a specific hobby you need to accommodate while you’re travelling? 
  • How important is it to you to have a sought-after brand and model, should you choose to sell it or upgrade?
  • Where do you see yourself exploring, and at what time of the year? 
  • Will you stay in campsites or do you want to freedom camp?

Once you have answered your main questions and have more of an understanding of what you are looking for, it’s time to get trusted advice.


Step 2
Talk with other motorhomers

Network with other motorhomers, but be sure to back up what you’re told with facts. If you don’t personally know anyone with a motorhome you could join a motorhoming Facebook group and get first-hand advice from someone who has just gone through the process.

Many motorhomers in New Zealand have their own blogs and YouTube videos, so do a bit of searching online and find a few you’d enjoy following.

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RV shows are a great place to do your research

Step 3
Visit shows

A great way to see lots of motorhomes, talk with a range of experts, and meet other owners is to visit motorhome shows. The next big show in New Zealand is the NZMCA Motorhome, Caravan & Leisure Show at Mystery Creek, Hamilton on 18- 20 September.

Step 4
Speak to the experts

Have a consultation with the experts. Visit several trusted motorhome dealers in your area and talk through your questions and concerns with a sales member. They will most likely have answers to questions you hadn’t even considered.

Step 5
Ask about warranties

A motorhome warranty is an important part of your purchasing decision. Most dealers in New Zealand offer some form of a motorhome warranty. Generally, a motorhome warranty can be broken into four main areas:
• The vehicle
• The appliances inside the motorhome
• The build of the motorhome body itself
• After-sales care and parts

Always ask the following questions:
• How long is the warranty – these can range from one to five years – and what does it cover?
• Research the dealership – will they be there when you need them?
• Does the dealership have an after-sales programme?

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A test drive is a good idea
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The perfect parking spot!

Step 6
Do a test drive

Booking a test drive will give you an idea of how it feels to drive a vehicle which is most likely a lot larger than you are used to. You may find it is far easier than you think! This process will also help with deciding on which base vehicle you prefer.

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How you choose to camp will be a deciding factor as to the type of RV that is best for you

Step 7
Decide on your base vehicle 

Deciding on your base vehicle will be largely dependent on your budget, along with whether you want a front- or rear-wheel drive. In a motorhome, most weight is over the back of the vehicle. A front-wheel drive with insufficient weight on the wheels can face challenges when driving on slippery surfaces such as gravel or grass. However, lots of people don’t mind this as they’ll be mainly on the road or in a campground. Most rear-wheel drive vehicles will have the added benefit of dual wheels at the back, giving you better traction if you do get stuck. Two main categories of base vehicles are available, European and Japanese, with both offering outstanding quality. So in many cases choice comes down to personal preference. Some other considerations for base vehicles include:

  • Transmission – do you prefer manual, automatic, AMT? 
  • Which make do you prefer, e.g. Fiat, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Iveco, etc? 

Step 8
Plan a trip

The best way to get a good feel for what you need in a motorhome is to take one away for a few nights. Some dealers will offer this service. But even taking away a rental motorhome will help fill in the gaps in knowing what is important to you and why.

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There are many different layouts to choose from

Step 9
Choose your favourite layout

There are hundreds of different floorplans/ layouts available. Usually the decisions you have already made such as budget, base vehicle (front- or rear-wheel drive), fit and finish, will narrow these down. These, along with your own personal preferences, will help you decide which floorplan will work best to suit your needs.

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There’s so much to love about travelling by RV

Step 10
Make your purchase

After you have answered all your questions, found a motorhome that covers all your needs and agreed with your travelling partner (if you have one), you will be ready to make your decision. It’s a good idea to plan an overnight stay near the dealer you purchase from on the day you pick up your motorhome. Give your motorhome a good test out – use all the appliances, take a shower, use the stove and fridge, test all the cupboards and drawers, etc. This way, if you have any problems, the dealer is close by to help out and you can get these sorted before taking a trip further from home. Most dealers will help you arrange this and will know of somewhere nearby that is suitable.

Finally, get out there and enjoy your new motorhome. It’s an exciting time and the start of a wonderful new way of life.

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