What Tow Vehicle Will You Be Using for Your Pop-Up Camper?
The most important thing about buying any towable camper is knowing what your tow vehicle can safely tow. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will have the manufacturer’s towing recommendations. At times, this information isn’t clear, so you may have to visit the manufacturer website or even call one of your auto maker’s dealers.
RV dealers are usually a good resource to learn this from, too, as they deal with these questions on a daily basis. Many people will exceed their vehicle’s tow capacity, as many vehicles can technically tow more than the recommendations, but you’re putting safety at risk. A good RV dealer will let you know what a safe towing weight is for your specific vehicle. Safety first!
Set Aside Some of Your Camper Buying Budget for Potential Repairs or Improvements
Just like with buying a home, you want to set aside at least ten to twenty percent of your budget to make minor repairs or improvements to your used camper. While used campers sold at a dealer typically are free of major damage, there may be minor wear and tear that you want to deal with before setting out on the road. You may also want to redecorate and add your own finishing touches to the camper to make it your own. It’s also just a good idea in case you run into necessary repairs down the line.
Know What Pop Up Camper Floor Plan Works for You
When shopping for pop up campers, you’ll want to research the various floor plans available from different makes and models. While pop up campers tend to be small, they can fit a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping areas quite well into a small space. You want to get the most practical space for the money. While some pop up campers are really fancy, they may not be practical for your purposes.
The best way to get a feel for a floor plan is to visit an RV dealer or RV show and actually visit different pop up camper models in person. When buying used, though, you may have to compromise when it comes to trying to get your dream floor plan. Still, knowing what models will serve your needs greatly narrows down your choices of a camper that you’ll be happy with.
Check the Condition of the Camper Before Buying
The number one issue with used pop up campers is potential moisture and water damage, Because so much of the camper’s structure is made from canvas, it doesn’t take much damage for water to intrude. Left unrepaired and untreated, these little holes can lead to moisture or water severely damaging the camper structure.
Examine any used pop up camper you’re considering to buy very carefully. Closely check the screens and canvas for any holes or rips, no matter how small. Also, watch for any mold. If you see any signs that water has intruded previously, be very cautious, as this type of damage is extremely costly and difficult to repair. Unless you have absolute proof that the water intrusion problem was properly fixed, It may be in your best interests to pass on that particular camper.
Make Sure the Pop Up Camper Mechanical Systems Function Properly
After ensuring that your pop-up camper won’t let any water inside, ask to see the lift system working in action. This is extremely important as it’s the entire reason you want a pop-up camper in the first place. Then, if the lift functions properly, see the heating & cooling, water, and electrical systems in action.
Once these things are in order, watch how well the pop-up camper closes. Make sure that the roof seals tightly once it’s fully lowered. If it doesn’t, that means water could get in and accumulate. Even if the water doesn’t get inside the camper itself, excess water could damage the mechanical systems, and your pop up camper could become a pop less camper.
The canvas and mechanical systems are next on the list. Check that the lift system works properly and that the roof seals tightly when lowered. Run all the systems in the pop up, such as heating, cooling, water and electrical. On the outside check that the lights function properly and that the tires are in good condition.
When Buying Used Pop Up Campers, Buyer Beware!
Of course, if you discover any major problems with a used pop-up camper, you likely want to walk away. The potential repairs now or down the road may not be worth the investment over simply buying a brand new or better condition used camper.
Then again, if you encounter only minor issues but really like the camper overall, you may be able to bargain a better offer in light of the inspection. If you’re willing to take the risk and can get a very good deal, you may consider still buying the pop up camper anyway at a discounted price. That’s, of course, if your budget allows you to make necessary repairs.
When buying a used camper, if you make a fair offer and the seller won’t budge on price, you may want to walk away. Know what your budget allows and don’t get talked into making a deal if it’s not worth the risk of future expenses for you. Whatever you do, as when you buy anything, get a good deal and stay within your budget.
Pop-up campers are a great way to enjoy camping and are easily towable by a wide range of vehicles. But when buying them used, just know the risks and potential hazards in buying a previously used pop-up, since so many things can go wrong with just one tiny hole or rip in the canvas.
Make well-informed decisions, be safe, and have fun in your hunt for your perfect used pop up camper!