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Is It Cheaper to Buy an RV From the Manufacturer?

Investing in a new RV is a big deal. For most people, dropping some of their hard-earned cash on a recreational vehicle is not a quick, spur of the moment decision. Most often, new RV owners have spent a lot of time weighing the pros and cons of buying a camper and take the buying process very seriously.

Understandably, most buyers focus a lot of energy on one thing in particular: finding the best deal.

I mean, who wouldn’t, right? Everyone likes a good deal, and even cheap RVs are a considerable financial investment.

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This bargain hunting leads more than a few RVers to wonder if they can save money by buying directly from an RV manufacturer. This is a classic way to get a deal on an item; cut out the middleman, go straight to the source.

But is it cheaper to buy an RV from the manufacturer? And if so, what is that process like? Let’s get into it.

Is Buying Directly From the Manufacturer Cheaper?

Yes, buying an RV from a manufacturer is cheaper than buying an RV from an RV dealership.But the answer to this question isn’t exactly cut and dry. Let me explain.

A vast majority of the leading RV manufacturers do not sell directly to consumers. They have long-standing relationships with RV dealerships and supply those dealerships with vehicles to sell to customers at a markup. It’s a business model that has been around for a long time, has made a lot of people quite wealthy, and isn’t going away any time soon.

When I say that buying an RV from a manufacturer is cheaper, this is in regard to the value you are getting per dollar. RV manufacturers that do sell directly to customers are typically custom RV builders that are selling a custom-built camper experience. These companies offer superb customer service, top-tier craftsmanship, and unparalleled factory warranties.

So, while you will almost certainly be paying more moneyfor your RV by buying factory-direct, you’ll be getting more bang for your buck. Every dollar spent buys the customer a premium experience not typically offered by RV dealerships.

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3 Reasons to Buy an RV Factory-Direct

If you’ve got the dough to spend on a premium RV experience, buying directly from the manufacturer certainly has its advantages.

Warranty

The warranties offered by factory-direct, custom RV builders are usually phenomenal. Whereas run-of-the-mill RV dealerships might offer a one or two year limited warranty, custom RV manufacturers typically offer warranties with three or four year durations that are fully comprehensive.

This is great for buyers.

While warranties on certain types of consumer products may seem like a scam and a waste of money, this is not at all the case with RVs. RVs have many moving parts that can fail and need servicing. When these types of failures happen, a good warranty is invaluable.

Craftsmanship

When you buy an RV directly from a custom RV manufacturer, you can trust that the people who built it are passionate about premium craftsmanship and put extreme emphasis on precision and attention to detail.

True craftsmen value high quality materials and only use superior building practices to get the job done. Cutting corners just isn’t an option. They will go above and beyond to make sure a job is done right, ensuring that every part of an RV build is as functional as it is beautiful.

You can trust me when I say that leading RV manufacturers do not value craftsmanship. During my time working as an RV technician, I inspected and worked on my fair share of mass-produced RVs. While most of these campers were perfectly functional, their interiors did not reflect the level of professionalism and attention to detail that I had grown used to after a decade of working as a finish carpenter.

RV technician

Large RV manufacturers do not have the margins that allow them to invest in top-tier craftsmanship. The campers they produce need to be made fast and cheap. To do this, manufacturers compromise the quality of materials and the precision of the building. They just can’t afford to redo any work, even if it was done poorly the first time.

The result is RVs that are practical and functional, and maybe even beautiful at first glance. But upon closer inspection, the flaws begin to appear; cabinet doors hung slightly askew, screws run in at sloppy angles, trim with wide, uneven gaps.

When a customer purchases a custom RV factory-direct, they can rest assured that they are investing in a camper made of the highest quality materials by professionals dedicated to the craft.

Customizability

The ability to personalize your own rig has got to be the ultimate perk to buying an RV factory-direct.

Customers are given the power to decide what type of fabric is used for upholstery, layout of cabinetry, countertop material, and so much more. They have final say in all things design, which leads to customers who are extremely satisfied with the final product.

Who wouldn’t want a camper that is designed and built to their specific tastes, lifestyle, and needs?

Disadvantages of Buying Factory Direct

Purchasing an RV factory-direct isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are a couple of disadvantages to the process.

Price

As I said earlier, buying an RV directly from a manufacturer offers the best value for your money, but it’s not the cheapest way to purchase an RV.

Cheap used campers range from $5,000 to 15,000 in price. During my time in the industry, I saw custom-built RVs being sold for a minimum of $45,000, with some costing as much as $300,000. Not exactly budget friendly, right?

Buying an RV from a dealership, especially a used-RV dealer, is less expensive than ordering a custom-built RV. If you are on a tight budget and are needing to pick up an RV for the absolute minimum price possible, you’ll have to buy either from a dealership or from a private seller.

Time

meeting with designers

The design process for a custom RV can be time consuming. A customer has to be ready to attend several meetings with designers and builders to go over and verify every aspect of their build. It can be an involved process that might be a bit much for some folks.

A quicker, more hands-off experience can be found at RV dealerships that pretty much just require the customer to point at an RV, sign the dotted line, and hand over a wad of cash.


Frequently Asked Questions

Check out what our readers want to know about buying an RV.

What state is the cheapest for buying an RV?

Montana, with its lack of sales tax, is frequently cited as the cheapest state for buying an RV. If you have the time and resources to drive across the country, buying your RV in a different state could save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Is it worth going to an RV show?

Yes, absolutely! RV shows offer consumers a unique opportunity to tour and compare multiple RVs in one day from a plethora of manufacturers.

Should I buy a brand-new RV?

In my humble opinion, buying a new RV is not worth the money. The rate of depreciation of new vehicles is absurd and should be avoided if possible.


Good luck on your RV purchasing journey! Regardless of where you buy it from, an RV is always an exciting investment. When you buy an RV, you buy a ticket to the outdoors, a home away from home, a sanctuary within which you can escape the hustle and bustle of modern life. Good things are coming your way.

Happy camping!

About Author
About Author

Schuyler has been working and playing outdoors his entire adult life. As a ski-bum in his early 20’s, he began building campers in the beds of pickup trucks to pursue a life of freedom and adventure. After a decade of experience as an artist and carpenter in Washington State, he moved to Colorado to work as an RV technician, converting vans into luxury campers. Now he is traveling the world, using writing as a way to continue his passion for creativity and artistry.

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