Buying an RV is not a decision to be rushed into. Especially when you are planning on purchasing an RV second-hand. There is much to be considered including the space you will need inside, the overall condition of the vehicle, what fuel it uses, and how many miles it already has on the clock.
Why is it so important to take your time buying an RV? For starters, buying the right RV means years of wonderful holidays and adventure and not endless, expensive, repairs. It means sleeping comfortably and not packing in the family top to toe. The right RV will be the center of many happy memories but the wrong one could be a source of constant regret.
Despite the numerous factors that need to be considered, RV buyers mostly worry about what is considered high mileage for an RV, just as they would a regular motor vehicle.
What is considered high mileage for an RV?
Roughly speaking, anywhere between 100,000 and 200,000 miles could be considered high mileage. An RV in the higher mileage range may or may not need some patching up. As you would expect with any vehicle, the more it has been cared for, the less worn parts it is likely to have.
What counts as high RV mileage largely comes down to you, the person buying a used RV. If you know your way around an engine then the wear and tear caused by extra mileage aren’t going to phase you. Whereas if you rely on your local expert RV mechanic there could be added costs on top of your initial investment.
Fuel choice and the RV class type also play a role in the decision of if an RVs mileage is too high.
What is considered high mileage for a Class A RV?
The biggest type of RV, Class As, can come as big as 45 feet long and guzzle up to 35 liters of fuel for every 100 miles you travel. These massive vehicles are popular with long-distance travelers who want the extra space inside to ensure a comfortable trip.
A Class A RV that is well cared for should last up to 20 years or 200,000 miles of driving. Whichever it reaches first. When you are buying a Class A RV second-hand, look at how it’s been used alongside the mileage on the odometer. If an RV is less than 10 years old and has a mileage below 40,000 – 50,000 miles it is not always a good sign. This could indicate that it has stood idle which isn’t something RVs like doing.
What is considered high mileage for a Class B RV?
Class Bs are the smallest kind of RVs and can look like glorified vans. Hence the nickname camper van. At an average of 20ft long, Class Bs are considerably smaller and lighter than Class As.
When it comes to checking a Class B RV for high mileage, you would be well advised to take its age and owner into account. RVers travel an average of 4,000 to 5,000 miles per year in their RV. Work out the mileage your potential RV has traveled versus its age. If it has done more than average per year, then look at how it has been cared for.
Talk to the owner if possible about the RVs maintenance history. If the RV has done considerably less or more than the average yearly mileage, one telltale clue about a Class B RVs real condition is the pop-top. Checking the pop-top seal and overall condition will give you an honest indication of if the vehicle really has been cared for or not. It’s possible to valet an RV so it looks great inside and out but if the seal is disintegrating or the hinges are sticking, your RV has possibly been neglected and a closer look at the rest of it would be a good idea.
What is considered high mileage for a Class C RV?
Class Cs are easily recognized by the overhang positioned over the cab of the van. Thisi overhang contains a bed by the way. Class Cs are sized between the massive Class A and smaller, camper van like Class Bs, and usually contain more luxury touches.
A Class C RV will easily give you 200,000 miles or more of driving luxury. In return, it needs regular love and attention. With the right kind of maintenance and use, a Class C can last more, giving you up to 300,000 miles of touring pleasure.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many miles can you put on an RV?
With the right care and attention, you can put an average of up to 200,000 miles on an RV. When buying an RV second hand, work out how many miles it has left to get to the 200k mark, and then divide that by 5000 (average yearly miles). This will give you an indication of how many years the RV realistically has left.
How many miles will a diesel RV last?
Diesel RVs have a reputation for lasting longer than gas ones. This is partly because diesel acts as a lubricant for the engine which gas does not. This keeps the engine in better condition and means that the RV will need fewer maintenance checkups than a gas engine RV. You can expect to get 50,000 to 80,000 more miles from a diesel RV depending o how you treat it.
Do diesel or gas RVs last longer?
The rule of thumb is that a diesel RV will last longer. That said, engine and RV design have both come a long way in recent years so don’t dismiss a newer model gas RV. Diesel engines are still that bit more robust than a gas engine though.
The main differentiator in between these RV fuel choices is a little thing called torque. Diesel engines burn more efficiently than gas and therefore deliver more power. More power means more torque (e.g. the ability to pull a heavier load better).
Should I Buy An Older RV?
Buying an older RV can be a really good idea, if you understand what you’re looking for. The general concept is that it can be better to buy an older, high quality RV rather than buying a newer low quality RV. You’ll save a lot of money and won’t have some of the headaches that come with an old bad quality camper.
Here’s a good Q&A with Marc & Julie of RV Love about this very topic.
How can I extend the life of an RV?
Care is the simple answer. RVs need regular and consistent care if they are to have any kind of longevity. RVs are not designed to stand idle. Though it may seem logical that an unused or lesser used RV would last longer, this is simply not the case.
To extend the life of an RV, keep it up to date with professional maintenance checks. A good RV mechanic will know just what is needed to keep your RV healthy and will ensure the brakes, tires, oil, water, engine and all other mechanical aspects are all in top working order.
Before, during, and after trips in your RV, give the inside and outside a thorough clean. The exterior of an RV ideally needs to be waxed more than once a year if the RV is regularly used. Waxing helps protect from general wear as well as keeping your rig looking good.
RVs have a lot going on inside and each part needs care. Keep your kitchen and bathroom mold and leak-free with regular cleaning and check-ups. Anything that moves, slides out, or swings down will need its hinges oiling. Keep a can of WD40 and rag handy for staving off rust and stiffness.
RV accessories need checking a couple of times a year too. Any bike racks, grills, grill arms, and awnings should have their own maintenance check. Double-check where these parts are attached to the RV and the area they are stored to stay on top of damage and leaks.
Definitely take the mileage of an RV into consideration when shopping around. However, measure that mileage and against the condition of the engine, the age of the vehicle, and the care it has been shown. If possible, take a trusted RV owner (or better still a mechanic) with you for an educated opinion. Having a second, unbiased, opinion when you are blinded by your excitement about your future RVing life can help prevent rash decisions.