Skip to content

7 Tips for Buying a Used Travel Trailer


tips for buying a used travel trailer

Buying a brand new travel trailer is expensive, so it makes sense as to why people chose to go for a second-hand travel trailer.

Unlike a brand new travel trailer (otherwise known as a bumper-pull or caravan), you have to be extra careful when getting a second-hand travel trailer. Here are a few tips for buying a used travel trailer, which should be considered before you pay for it and consider it a done deal.

There have existed several cases where travel trailer lovers found themselves on the wrong side of the law for buying the wrong second-hand travel trailer. Whether it is because they found themselves in possession of a stolen travel trailer or illegal re-birthed travel trailer, you wouldn’t want all the hassle and stress, not to mention the cost and time to make it right.

We take a look at some of the critical tips for buying a used travel trailer that you should consider. Some of this also applies to RVs, toy haulers, motorhomes and camper trailers as well.


The model and make of the travel trailer

Buying a travel trailer


The make is crucial to note since it gives you a rough idea of what you expect to be inside the travel trailer. Modern travel trailers have air conditioning systems and feel more modern and luxurious than previous models. Simultaneously, you get a glimpse of how much it will cost you to get the travel trailer.

While a lot of people know or heard of the Winnebago and Jayco brands, there are lots of companies worth looking at. So it is worth having an open mind and doing some homework about the different brands and models.

Here are just some travel trailer, RV, camper trailer and toy hauler brands to name a few that can be found in the States:

Bigfoot Industries
Braxton Creek
Casita Travel Trailers
Chinook RV
CrossRoads RV
Cruiser RV
Dutchmen RV
East to West RV
Forest River RV
Genesis Supreme RV
Grand Design RV
Gulf Stream Coach
Keystone RV Company
Lance Camper
Oliver Travel Trailers
Outdoors RV Manufacturing
Pacific Coachworks
Palomino RV
Riverside RV
Safari Condo
Shasta RV
Sunset Park RV
Travel Lite RV
Venture RV


How much is a used travel trailer?

Models that came before the 2000s will cost you anything around $5k-$15k, while those that came sooner cost you more than $15k. At around $20,000, you will get a van with features like an air conditioning system, shower/toilet, a 12V system, etc.

The condition, brand, model and year of the travel trailer can vary widely in price. From $20,000 to $50,000 you can get some decent models.

The higher the price, the better the feature and the newer the model. Some of the used, but newer models can set you back from $30,000 grand to over $125,000 with all the bells and whistles. Gee, some of the off road models can get pricey, but they look great!

Avoid buyer’s remorse, by looking around properly and doing the figures. Sticking to the budget with some flexibility for a long term purchase, then you should a happy camper.

Remember to factor in the travel trailer insurance as well for additional cost.


The travel trailer’s history

To make sure you are not surprised by anything in the future, you should be capable of finding out about the travel trailer’s history.

This will include asking questions like who the previous owner of the travel trailer about its history. Looks can be deceiving, and so it is the same case with travel trailers and camper trailer. These questions may end up altering your decision to buy the travel trailer.

Don’t be shy to ask more about the history.


Condition of the travel trailer

If you are going to spend money on the travel trailer, then it better be worth your bucks. Take time to assess and evaluate the condition of the travel trailer from its exterior to its interior. The process is the same as when you are buying a new car.

The things you could look at outside the travel trailer include:

  • Scratches and dents on the body of the travel trailer.
    • If the doors and windows are opening correctly.
    • Condition of the suspension and how the travel trailer looks underneath.
    • Any damages the roof may have.
    • The condition of the tires.
  • From the interior, you should take a look at them:
  • Whether the electric, gas, and water systems are functioning as they should.
    • Look for the condition of the beds and cabinets.
    • Check for leakages and ventilation.
    • Smell or dampness in the travel trailer.

My wife has a nose like a blood hound. She can smell me having beef chili & garlic jerky a mile away, so perhaps an extra person to look at the travel trailer with you is a good idea. (Or to smell it.)


Documentation of the travel trailer

Different states have different requirements if the travel trailer has to be registered. Some travel trailers have a trailer plate, chassis number or ID number on them.

These are all documents that may be needed with the relevant authorities when you purchase a travel trailer. Plus, other than the certificates being an essential part of owning a travel trailer, they are a source of any added information you may need regarding the travel trailer. That will include the manufacturer’s name and a bit of the history of it.

Check if any gas and electric services have been checked in the travel trailer or camper trailer. There might be some paperwork on the service or repair work.


What is the tow weight of the travel trailer?

The documentation may provide this, but it is vital to know the weight of the travel trailer. The weight of the travel trailer should match the strength of the pick up truck or car you will be taking with you.

The more power your vehicle has, the more it can tow a heavy travel trailer.

This definitely something to think about when buying a travel trailer. You might get a great deal on a travel trailer for sale, but then realize you have to fork out some more money for a big pick up truck to tow it with.


The seller?

This is another important tip for buying a used travel trailer. Getting one from a RV or motorhome dealer will sometimes be much better than getting from an individual. Be careful with some RV trading and dealing websites, since they can take a photo of a travel trailer from anywhere and sell it at a discounted price.

A legitimate RV or travel trailer dealer will give you peace of mind because they would have gone through most of the troubles to make sure the van meets a basic requirement for resale. They repair any problems the van may have before putting it on the lot. Some go the extra mile and give you a warranty.


What size travel trailer?

Taking a look at what you need your travel trailer for, will help you make the right choice. Like how many people do you want to take on the travel trailer?

This will allow you to choose whether to go for a travel trailer with a single or double bed.

A few other factors you could consider include how much you plan on taking it out, will it be weekly or just once in a while.

A big trip around the States for a year, or just a trip to the local beach and camping ground might dictate what size to go for.


Be ready to compromise

You should be ready to compromise for a few things about the travel trailer.

Given that it is a second-hand vehicle, not everything will come working at perfection. So how do you go around that? Look at the cost of what you are compromising, and if it costs you much more, later on, you shouldn’t compromise for it.

Like it is expected that you find a few places of the travel trailer that are faded or scratched. That you can compromise unless it makes the travel trailer not safe, that should be non-negotiable. Also, it would help if you did not compromise for rusts and dampness since fixing such, will cost you more than you will expect.

I have seen a few rusty buckets in my time and it doesn’t end well for the travel trailer or owner.


Are you satisfied with your purchase?

It was not meant to be easy, but if you have followed the few tips for buying a used travel trailer, you probably should be in a good place, happy with what you got.

Price is a significant factor to consider, but other than your budget, the above-listed tips help you bargain for the price of the travel trailer. Now you can go home with your almost perfect caravan ready for an adventure and good memories.


Additional resources –  Tips For Buying A Used RV