The Essential Guide to Buying a Campervan: Key Considerations for Smart Shoppers

Rover XL
Last updated
May 13, 2024

So you’re thinking about buying a campervan? Well, there are some important things to consider…

So you’re thinking about buying a campervan? Well, there are some important things to consider before making your purchase. With nearly a decade of experience in this industry, we feel qualified to share our perspective in hopes that it will help you more effectively navigate the buyer’s journey.

New vs. Used: Why New Reigns Supreme

When it comes to purchasing a campervan, the age-old debate between new and used often arises. While used campervans may initially seem like a budget-friendly option, opting for a new model does offer advantages.

First and foremost, buying new gives you access to tools that ensure peace of mind like a warranty and customer service support, and it eliminates the possibility of hidden gremlins from previous use and abuse. 

Many modern campervans come with robust electrical systems that enable fully off-grid camping. Battery capacity deteriorates over time, so if you’re buying a 2-3 year old unit the batteries have likely lost a material amount of charge capacity and may need to be replaced within the first couple years of ownership. 

Additionally, new vehicles boast the latest features, technology, and safety advancements. 

Remember, campervans have a lot of moving parts, so it’s important to have a direct line of contact with the builder for ongoing questions and support as they arise.

RVIA Certification: A Seal of Quality

Would you ever buy a home built by someone who was not a licensed contractor? If the answer is no, why would you buy an RV built by someone without the proper licensing? 

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RVIA certification is a crucial factor to consider when purchasing a campervan. This certification shows that the manufacturer has met rigorous standards for safety, construction, and quality control set forth by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Campervans with RVIA certification undergo thorough inspections and testing to ensure they meet or exceed industry benchmarks for structural integrity, electrical systems, plumbing, and more. By choosing an RVIA-certified campervan, you can trust that your vehicle has been built to the highest standards of craftsmanship and safety, providing added confidence and reliability on your travels.

Titling/Resale: The RVIA Certification Advantage

The titling process for your campervan will be a large factor in resale value, properly insuring your vehicle, and your ability to gain access to proper financing tools.

It’s crucial that your campervan is titled as a motor home with the second stage manufacturer’s information presented on the title alongside the original manufacturer. 

Think about this. You buy a Mercedes Sprinter campervan for $120,000, but the seller is not a certified manufacturer, so the vehicle title only displays the vehicle as a Mercedes Sprinter Cargo Van. On paper, you’ve just spent $120,000 for a vehicle that is worth $60,000. Let’s say you go to insure or resell the vehicle in a year. The insurance companies and lenders can only go off the information documented on paper (the title). Now you have to pursue expensive, custom insurance and lending solutions to insure and/or sell your campervan. No bueno. 

We’ve heard countless horror stories over the years about titling oversight becoming a costly mistake. Don’t fall victim to these same mistakes, make sure your campervan is actually a campervan on paper.

Manufacturer vs. Garage Builders: The Superior Choice

When it comes to costly mistakes we’ve encountered over the years, there is no larger mistake than purchasing a campervan from a “garage builder”. A garage builder is someone who converts their own van or builds a small handful of campervans every year as a hobby or side hustle.

Campervans have a TON of moving parts. A VanCraft campervan, for example, requires 500 unique SKUs and thousands of individual components to manufacture. Every single one of those components has gone through extensive testing before making it onto our production line. Product changes typically undergo between 2-10 iterations to ensure certain safety and quality standards are met. This is a huge advantage of buying from an established manufacturer versus a garage builder with no systems.

What happens when you experience issues with your campervan? Everyone wants a quick and professional resolution to their problem. Garage builders are entering and exiting the industry at an alarming rate and there is no guarantee that you will receive the ongoing support you need to feel confident in your purchase. We always recommend buying from an established company that offers dedicated customer service support.

Being the first to own a new model of car comes with its risks (i.e. the recent Cyber Truck recall disaster). “I’m going to wait a year and let the manufacturer work out the kinks,” is the typical sentiment among savvy consumers. We believe this is why so many custom van companies struggle with quality and durability. They are building a complex product for the first time, every time. 

Aside from not being licensed to properly build or title campervans, custom garage builders just can’t match established manufacturers when it comes to quality, durability, and customer support. For those who decide to purchase from a less established garage builder, we encourage you to do your due diligence beforehand. 

Next Steps

Our team is passionate about this industry and we would be more than happy to help answer any questions you may have about the buying process. Whether you’re buying from us or have questions about another van you’re considering buying, we are always happy to provide feedback and give you our two cents. We wish you all the best in your future adventures, cheers!