New vs. Used for a Newbie!

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by violinwebb, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. violinwebb

    violinwebb New Member

    Nov 26, 2017

    New here and looking to purchase our first PUP. We are a family with young children living in a concrete jungle of a city! We plan to use our PUP to get outdoors as much as possible.

    We don't want to add undue maintenance and hassle to our lives which is why we have been leaning towards new with warranties and all. I've read the helpful threads on purchasing used just not sure if we trust ourselves enough to know what to look for. I've also read in several threads that new PUPs are poorly made.

    So! Is it better to get an older, well maintained used one or new? If used, what years? Thanks!!
  2. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member

    Jul 5, 2011
    Macomb County Michigan
    imho, buying used is always better than buying new. If you buy new, yes - you'll have a warranty, but getting warranty work can be a nightmare in itself. if you buy used, someone else will take both the burden of the warranty work and the initial depreciation.

    As far as what years, I don't believe that new pop ups are any more poorly made than older ones. They have always been built out of light weight materials for easy towing. The model year is much less important than the care the trailer has received in its lifetime. For example, a garage-kept, well maintained 15 year old camper would probably give better service than a 5 year old trailer that's kept outside and received little to no maintenance. I bought a 94 StarCraft in 2002, and I still have it in use today, with just standard maintenance every year.

    Stand by for additional opinions and advice.
    Fbird, chambo and violinwebb like this.
  3. dlaudens

    dlaudens Member

    Dec 21, 2015
    My 2 cents:
    1 - Buy'll be surprised what you thought you would use but didn't (and vice versa). No need to spend the extra $$ for new only to find out you didn't need half the stuff you thought you would. For example, I made sure the pup I bought had a cassette toilet (for dw/dd's)...which has been used zero times. Get a year of camping under your belt, and if you still want to buy new you'll know exactly what you need/want.
    2 - In my uneducated and totally baseless opinion, it seems like nothing breaks while it's under warranty but as soon as it runs out.....
    3 - I bought a 2004 (three years ago) and have had absolutely zero problems with it. Previous owner kept it well maintained. I looked at several that were in excellent shape. I too was clueless when I began my search, but a few hours on this forum and you'll know what questions to ask and what to look for.
    4 - I looked at several on the RV lots and they were all junk. Craigslist was my best source.
    5 - Old or new....they're all cheaply made. Same maintenance and care is needed either way.
    kcsa75 and violinwebb like this.
  4. Sneezer

    Sneezer Active Member

    Aug 8, 2015
    DFW, TX
    I would look at used. Before you buy you need to invest some significant time researching. Peruse these forums, google everything, and look at older brochures to help nail down floor plans and trailer size. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and be aware that it may take 6 months or more to find the right camper. Look at your tow vehicle, nail down your options for what you can safely tow. Look at what else you may need to get in order to camp comfortably. Will you need bedding or sleeping bags, camp chairs, cooking gear, etc. You will also need a lot of supplies that typically don't come with a trailer, although sometimes you can find a used one with all the gear. Things like leveling blocks or a BAL leveler, drinking water safe hoses, filters, various tools and lights, grey water disposal/transport system and associated hoses if needed, towing mirrors for your TV, bins for storage, new propane tanks if the old ones are out of date, new camper battery (if needed), etc.

    As you browse the forums you will see many of the mods that most of us have done, and some may catch your eye. Budget for those mods, but try out the camper first. What works for me may not work for you, and you may find an even better way of doing something.

    Depending on the camper you may have brakes to deal with, plus axle lubrication and maintenance, possibly old tires and/or spare that needs to be replaced, and most campers do not come with a jack. You will need to get a suitable jack, and a 4-way lug wrench. I have seen too many campers that used different sized lug nuts on the wheels vs. the spare tire carrier. The 4-way is also easier to use IMO.

    I bought mine used, mainly because there was no way I could have afforded a new one. Even had I bought new, many of the mods I did to mine I would also do to a new one, thus further increasing the cost. I am also realistic that I will be moving to a used TT at some point in the next couple years. Had I bought new I would likely still be paying on it when it came time to sell.

    After you look at a couple used ones it will be pretty obvious to weed out the bad ones on initial inspection. Take your time, bolster your knowledge and see what you can find. Camper ownership, no matter how much you spend for the unit, is not a cheap thing to own. In the end you have a 2nd house on wheels, just not made as well. They are all made from lightweight materials, and most tend to be pretty similar to each other construction wise. Big things to look out for are the roof, the canvas, and the lifting mechanism.
    Alan likes this.
  5. BelchFire

    BelchFire I speak fluent vise-grip

    Mar 29, 2012
    SE Georgia
    This may be the absolute best, most concise recommendation you could get. New campers nearly all have problems. Granted, they're fixed under warranty, but a good, well-maintained used camper has already had those problems fixed. I bought a camper 7 years old that was garage kept since new. I have kept it that way and I see no reason it won't last me until I'm ready to move on to something bigger (if EVER).

    Look for a ready-to-use camper that doesn't need work. Be prepared to pay NADA so you don't have to work on it and so you don't miss the purchase to another buyer who recognizes it for what it is.

    Just a word about Craigslist and/or ebay; be ready to move quickly. If you plan to pay cash, I would get it ahead of time because a good used camper on Craigslist won't last long at all. The ones you see week after week, aren't going to be what you're looking for or else someone would have already bought them.
  6. Sneezer

    Sneezer Active Member

    Aug 8, 2015
    DFW, TX
    Not always, but still a good rule to follow. When I bought mine, the ad had been up for a couple weeks. In my case it was in College Station, about 2 1/2 hours from anywhere with lots of people. There were tons of campers for sale closer to Dallas, Houston, Austin, etc. I looked at some, missed out on others that sold the day they were listed, and had others sell as I was en route to look at them. In my case the seller had taken cell phone pictures that were not the best, and there were some typos in the description so it didn't show up in every search on craigslist. Still, there were other people interested in it, even as I was inspecting it. He had someone else lined up to look at it later that day if I didn't buy it. Worked out well for me, so sometimes it is helpful to look. Always use your best judgment. Also depends on what part of the country you are in as well.
  7. SteveP

    SteveP Active Member

    May 21, 2015
    IMO, getting what you want is the biggest part of it. If you can find what you want in a used camper go for it. In our case, after half heartedly looking at both popups and tts for well over a year we bought new to get the floorplan and amenities that we wanted. We have had no issues for several years other than normal maintenance.

    Unless you're in the same town as the dealer the warranty probably will only be used if you have a MAJOR PROBLEM. In most cases it's easier to fix it yourself than to haul the pup a couple of hours and deal with the service dept. But it's nice to have if that MAJOR PROBLEM comes up.

    The depreciation myth only matters if you plan to sell or trade the camper within a couple of years.

    So whether you buy new or used, get what you want and you'll be happier.
    kcsa75 and chambo like this.
  8. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    I'm also say buy used especially for your first camper. Can't tell you how many people I seen trying to sell their almost new popup for the price they owe because "it wasn't what they wanted". They couldn't trade it in because they would take a huge depreciation hit the second they drove off the lot. You would need to do your homework either way because many dealers fudge the truth to make a sale. My parents had a dealer that sold them a camper that was over 1000 pounds more then what their tow vehicle was capable. They could bearly drive off the lot. They returned it the same day but took a huge depreciation hit doing so.
    violinwebb and XKPin like this.
  9. violinwebb

    violinwebb New Member

    Nov 26, 2017
    Wow! All this is super helpful and food for thought. Thanks for taking time with such thorough answers. Our original leaning was used and we've been looking on Craigslist. And I totally agree that the same ones seem to appear week after week and the better looking ones go fast. All the ones we'd like to look at are about 3 hours away which is challenging for us with the kids. In the meantime we'll keep researching!
  10. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2007
    Here's my take ..

    1) Are you or your wife campers? have you camped before? This is the first question I would ask here, since camping isn't for everyone (hard to believe), in this situation I would look at used pups (heard of may folks buying a trailer and within a year decide they are the hotel/resort type rather then campers or glampers).
    2) How big of a budget do you have? This will dictate new or used and how old if used..
    3) Doesn't really apply to new or used, but what are you going to use to tow the pup? Car, Van, SUV, Pickup ?? Does the vehicle have a factory, dealer or completely after market setup?

    After answering those, it may help sway the choice more in favor of new or used or used over new..
    Buying used you have a few things to consider, age, weight (the GVWR of some older pups is much lighter then newer ones, largely having to with options and extras) and cost.

    New will certainly set up back further money wise, but generally will offer trouble free enjoyment for a few years with just routine maintenance being done.

    For me.. We bought a 3 year old used pup from a dealer (yes paid much more then I would have privately but dealer did have to give it a once over and ensure things like the fridge, stove,WH all worked, had to check the bearings and brakes along with both power systems.. When we upgraded (IMHO, it was an upgrade) to the TT, we again bought used for the same reasons.. Since I knew the PO of the TT, I knew what he got for trade value and I knew what he would have sold it for privately.. I paid $2500 more to the dealer but got 4 new tires, full inspection a 2 year warranty (same dealer now only offers 1 yr warranty on used 10 years or newer units).. I did follow our old pup when it went for resale, it was sold for $1500 over the value we traded it for.

    Not sure this helps much..
  11. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Active Member

    Jun 14, 2014
    Gently used and maintained is the way to go as noted. Make sure that you understand what your general needs / wants are and what you can tow, that way you will be looking at the right units. If you have a friend or associate that has a popup and has camped before and has experience, it would be great to tap into them as a resource.

    We bought our popup used back in 2005 ( a 2001). We had gone to the camper show and so on and when I was in at work, I mentioned that we went and we were looking for a camper. My coworker mentions that he was looking to sell his, it all worked out perfectly and there were a lot of extras I got with the used camper (mods he had done, camping supplies...). We also got it for less than 1/2 the price of the unit new. That was when my oldest was 7 years old. Lots of camping and youngest is now 14 and 7 kids total and we still have the same camper and it continues to work great. Will for sure outlast the kids tenure in the house. We have 10s of thousands of miles on that camper and all but a handful of states camped in with it. Lots of fantastic memories built with it! You and your kids will likely love the experience.
    Redbird934 likes this.
  12. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    Santa Clarita, California
    I would not buy an used popup that was not properly maintained by previous owner. I sold my 1st popup at high price because it was properly maintained. Bought 2nd popup that was not fully maintained. I fixed it up and maintained it and sold it at the same price I bought it. Bought 3rd popup from an OCD freak which is a blessing for me. The 2002 Niagara is like zestfully clean but has less than normal wear and tear.

    all popups require regular maintenance for:
    correct lube for all moving parts
    keep roof clean and waxed
    cover the roof if not used much.
    my popup is always covered with breathable cover.
    Winterize it if you are in freezing zone
    (where will you store the popup?
  13. penny

    penny Active Member

    Nov 9, 2017
    We recently purchased a 2010 rockwood that appeared to be like new. I didn't look closely enough, and missed a rotten side panel in the top and some delimitation in the top. We've fixed it now, and it seems like it will be just fine for us. But, even though we bought some big problems with ours, I still would not buy new. We have owned too many good used pop ups over the years, and the price for new just isn't justifiable in my opinion. the one we bought has some very nice features and ease of set up that we enjoy. I wouldn't agree that newer are not as well made. But if you buy used, you can often afford something that is more top of the line.
    Good advice to make sure you really like camping! maybe rent or borrow a pop up to make sure the space isn't too confining, and get an idea of the features you really want. Pop ups are great in many ways, but are not for everyone's camping expectations. They look great, but once you start packing in everything you need for your family, they begin to seem a lot smaller. We camped with 3 kids in ours, and many of our upgrades were to get a bigger pop up! Now we are back to littlest, because weight is an important factor.
  14. HotelRoyale

    HotelRoyale Member

    Sep 23, 2016
    We bought our first camper off eBay ... for $1,200 ... it was '82 Coleman. This was in 2004, so the camper was no spring chicken. The sellers were a young couple with a growing family that needed a bigger camper, they'd taken good care of it, posted tons of pictures on eBay and we even spoke on the phone during the listing. It was over 500 miles from us so we couldn't inspect it before buying it ... we had to rely on the honesty of strangers, the pictures they posted ... and our faith that if the whole thing was a turd on wheels we were only out a small amount of money. We'd been tent campers for years and desperately wanted to get off the ground and generally be happier during stormy weather. Yes, we were naive ... and a little bit lucky ... when we drove from Missouri to Wisconsin to pick it up, we were pleased to find the pup was even better than described. I'm not saying all eBay deals are good, but it is possible to find honest folks, you just have to do your homework ... and take the leap! Good luck on your search ... trust your gut but do your due diligence before handing over your money.
    Byrd_Huntr likes this.
  15. violinwebb

    violinwebb New Member

    Nov 26, 2017
    So we've continued our search (both new and used) and plan to travel to look at a used one this weekend. I found the list of things to look for/ask about on the before you buy forum, but how do we ensure the brakes are good? (If I should ask on another thread let me know). We will travel 3 hours one way to look at this one.
  16. penny

    penny Active Member

    Nov 9, 2017
    I don't know much about brakes, but good luck on shopping for your camper this weekend.
  17. Byrd_Huntr

    Byrd_Huntr Well-Known Member

    Jan 27, 2013
  18. Byrd_Huntr

    Byrd_Huntr Well-Known Member

    Jan 27, 2013
    You could always ask for a demonstration. Brakes are easily repaired, the walls, roof, and floor not so much.
    violinwebb and HotelRoyale like this.
  19. kgesiako

    kgesiako New Member

    Mar 26, 2016
    Chicagoland area
    Just like a car you should be able to go for a test ride( or pull!). When going used I would suggest having the owner keep it folded until you get there then set it up and take down again. Make take awhile but you don’t want to find any surprises when you least expect it. Look for soft spots on floor and overall fading of exterior and that will give you some kind of idea of how it was taken care of. We have two pups, an 88 Viking and a 17 rockwood we bought from the rv show. At times we think the Viking is better and more spacious than the new one, so new is not always better unless you plan on keeping it for a loooooooooooong time which usually doesn’t happen on your first pup go around! Either way take your time and enjoy the search because sometimes that’s just as fun( if you let it be!). Great advice from above threads also.
    violinwebb likes this.
  20. Alan

    Alan Active Member

    Mar 18, 2017
    Reno, NV
    If you're going to look at PUPs, you find on Craigs List, (or any other type of ad) take cash and be ready to pounce if it's what you're looking for. I went to look at one where three others came to see it. I was the first to call so the guy gave me first chance. I looked it over and told him I'd pay what he was asking. In the meantime another guy came along to look at the PUP and a watercraft he had listed on CraigsList as well. He offered cash for both the PUP and the watercraft...I had my check book, but he didn't want a check, so guess who got it? It was probably just as well...we ended up getting a Taj Mahal compared to that one.

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