Here's What to Consider When Buying a Fifth Wheel Camper
Here's What to Consider When Buying a Fifth Wheel Camper
Posted on November 10, 2020
For many people, escaping to the great outdoors every year is not optional. A trek across the Saskatchewan grasslands, Mountains of Banff, Albert or sand dunes of the American Southwest brings relief to a year of hustle and bustle.
An RV, or recreational vehicle, is used by many travelers looking to bring the comforts of home on long road trips. The RV camper makes it possible to stay on the road longer, which is why it's a popular choice for retirees & young families alike!
Here are a few tips to help you avoid costly mistakes when buying your 5th Wheel Camper.
What is a Fifth Wheel Camper?
A Fifth-Wheel RV is larger than most other trailers on the market. The raised forward section creates a bi-level floor plan that provides more features and living area. Trucks can easily pull the larger floorplans because a portion of the weight hangs over and is carried in the box of the truck.
The phrase "fifth wheel" refers to the type of hitch needed to connect the trailer to the back of a large vehicle.
Often, people who find Class A motor-homes a challenge to maneuver opt for a fifth wheel instead. This camper provides a more safe, stable ride. We find that owners report less swaying easier maneuverability of the trailer.
Why Are You Buying a Fifth Wheel Camper?
This question is essential in helping you determine the best floorplan for your needs. The price, features, style and wear and tear on your vehicle may be second to the fulfillment you are seeking from the use of your camper.
Your idea of a good buy comes with what you imagine your camping lifestyle should be.
This part of the process is an open brainstorming session. Read user stories to get ideas of how campers can benefit your current lifestyle.
Here's an overview of how fifth-wheel campers compare to other RVs:
- Class A is the largest RV you see on the road. Often they tow personal vehicles behind them. This is the priciest option when purchasing an RV.
- Class B includes oversized vans, some with slide outs.
- Class C is about as long and wide as a pickup truck. The price is comparable to a luxury car.
- Fifth-Wheels are large trailers that hang over a pickup truck bed. They can be as long and luxurious as a Class A motorhome, but detachable.
- Travel Trailers are typically shorter in height than fifth wheels and offer a single level floorplan.
How Will We Use Our Fifth Wheel RV?
Now is the time to make a firm decision on your camper's job description. Fantasies aside, it is time to get ready for the spend.
How will you be using your camper on trips? Will it be out in the middle of forests with no access to water or electricity? Will you be parking it at a season site all summer long? Your camper's job description is your buying guide.
What Size Truck Do You Need?
Unless you are planning to purchase two new vehicles, make sure your truck has the power to pull the RV trailer you want. The best way to determine this is by the weight of the fifth-wheel camper.
Large pickup trucks with a long bed are usually the best option for towing. Diesel options are a good choice because the engine power is greater than standard pickups.
Research whether your pickup truck will need a slider hitch as this can add an additional expense. The slider hitch also affects how your truck maneuvers with the trailer attached.
Not having the right size truck can cost you a good deal. If you find the RV of your dreams and decide to move forward anyway, there are for-hire services that can transport the trailer for you. You may also consider renting the vehicle you need for shorter trips.
Safe towing happens when you know how much weight your truck can tow without strain. Learn the different weights and acronyms associated with both your truck and the trailer.
The actual weight comes from the factory and can sometimes be an estimate. The weight rating is the limit placed on the truck. Never exceed your weight rating.
Fifth wheels have what's known as a GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. Learning the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) helps you calculate this number.
The GVWR measures the max weight for the GVW or GTW. Manufacturers also call GVWR a Maximum Loaded Trailer Weight.
A final number to consider is the Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC ). Use the following formula to calculate the CCC:
CCC = GVWR - unloaded vehicle weight - full fresh tank water weight - full LP gas weight.
The CCC number is critical because it tells you much weight you can add to the RV. Think of it as carry-on baggage limitations. When traveling for long periods, you may want to bring everything you own but skip any items that can send you over the CCC rating.
There is a sticker inside your camper that reveals these numbers.
Should I Buy a Used Camper?
Used vehicles cost thousands of dollars less than new ones. Buying a used camper is a great idea if it helps you get to your goals faster.
Before you hop on that great deal you just found, you need to learn the art of inspecting a used fifth-wheel camper. Here are a few questions to ask to see if your deal is too good to be true:
- Is there a lot of rust on the camper? A little rust is ok. A lot might be a sign of other issues.
- Is the seller the legal owner of the vehicle? Check the legal documents that come with the camper to make sure everything checks out.
- Does the owner have all the legal documents? Missing information can mean you cannot legally transfer the camper into your name.
- Do the appliances work? For some, replacing appliances is a headache that means walking away from a deal.
- Does the oil smell burnt? Overheating engines can cause oil to reach extreme temperatures resulting in a burning smell.
There are many parts to a used vehicle you just can't see using a standard walkthrough. It is best to hire an RV inspector or mechanic to check the mechanical and electrical areas of the vehicle. You can get upfront pricing on needed repairs.
Always check the seller's maintenance records on a used camper. If the seller does not have any records, be wary of the deal. It may be a sign the owner has not maintained the vehicle or is withholding information.
Your mechanic or RV inspector can help you estimate the cost of repairing any known issues listed in the records. Expensive repairs do not have to mean the RV is not reliable but it gives you more to consider when making an offer to buy.
Water damage is something to look out for with used RVs. An RV with bowed ceilings or brown stains is one to avoid.
You will have to repair both the source of the leak and the ceiling when repairing. When you begin ripping apart an RV, you are opening the door to possibly damaging other vehicle mechanics. In many cases, the cost of repair is not worth the effort.
Stomp on the floors near the bathroom and kitchen where water runs the most. If the floor doesn't feel firm, it may be a sign of rotting.
Mold and Structural Damage
Used RVs run the risk of having mold and structural damage in hidden places. Take your time during the walkthrough opening panels, checking deep into corners and along the caulking in bathrooms.
Take a flashlight with you to examine closets or cabinets feeling for humidity or visible mold. You may not see mold but you can often smell it. An unusually warm temperature in closets and cabinets is also a sign of mold.
Buy an RV with tires that still have a long life left in them. Check the tire pressure to make sure they are inflated to the right PSI. The PSI is normally listed on the tire.
Purchase a full-sized spare tire for your fifth wheel camper. Just like with a car, when a tire goes out on an RV, it's much safer to rely on a normal tire than a donut.
Negotiating with a Dealer
The expense of an RV is much larger than a car but smaller than a house. You want to apply the same prudence you use when shopping for real estate when buying a new fifth-wheel camper.
An RV dealership can feel like a magical place with models for budgets of all sizes. This is where your brainstorming session and features checklist saves the day.
Avoid getting too distracted by the latest RV models.
You already know your needs and are clear about how they will help you reach your travel goals. If you open the door for the salesman to add things to your wants list, the process will be endless-and expensive.
The salesman has a financial responsibility to earn his dealership the most money possible. That said, you have a responsibility to get the best value possible. Sticker prices are just starting prices for negotiation.
Read reviews of the dealership to determine whether they are known for integrity and good products. Not many salesmen expect repeat business on RV purchases.
To decide the value you are getting for the asking price, consider these factors:
- Does the RV come already set up?
- Is a hitch included? What about sway bars?
- Can they walk you through how to use all of the components on the RV?
- Is financing available?
- Will this be considered a second home by the IRS? Second homes have a bed, bathroom, and kitchen and serve as your residence for at least a week.
Now let's look at the interior of your new RV. Here's how to do a walkthrough:
- Test the level of comfort on sofas and chairs.
- Make a note of where the TVs can be mounted or placed. You want to sit at a comfortable distance from the screen.
- Determine whether space is used efficiently. Can these same features fit comfortably in a smaller trailer for less money?
A smart purchase means leaving the walkthrough feeling like you are getting more than you expected.
Storing an RV can be a challenge if you have limited space around your home. Renting out your fifth wheel trailer is a good way to help pay down the note and avoid storage headaches.
Leaving the RV for months at a time wears on the tires causing them to need replacement sooner.
Before Going Camping
Hewing tanks have capacities that affect your ability to camp in remote locations. Dry camping sites have no immediate water access so your fifth wheel camper has to do all the work.
For example, if you are planning to park your RV for three days without hookups, you will need a freshwater tank that holds at least 30 gallons of water. You must drain the tank and find fresh water to fill it up every few days.
A larger hewing tank means having clean water longer with less effort.
Used and new fifth wheel campers both have their advantages. Choose the camper that offers the best long term benefit if you are using the RV as a retirement home.
Families looking a camping tent alternative might get away with a used camper without many features. Check warranties before buying as an active warranty can be a cost saver in the long run.
Check out our website to find the 5th wheel camper that best suits your goals.
Sherwood RV Saskatoon we are all about customer satisfaction, are a full service RV dealership serving clients across Saksatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
We can arrange a delivery for your Fifth Wheel Trailer and have technology to get all the paperwork done via phone, and online means.
Do check out our reviews prior to making your Fifth Wheel Trailer purchase decision.