Shopping For A 5th Wheel

Do You Buy a Truck or 5th Wheel First?

Everyone we talked to and followed on YouTube recommended purchasing the fifth wheel before you buy the truck, so you know how much truck you need. We disagreed due to our financial situation. Being younger, and not owning a home, we knew there was no point in buying a 5th wheel if we couldn’t secure a truck to pull it with. The truck was not the easiest to find.

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No matter what- you have to look at your situation and what you are wanting. If you need to buy the truck and 5th wheel in the same month and the budget is very tight, you might prefer our method. Did money is no object in your situation then it doesn’t matter which way you want to do it.

It took us two months to find Ahn-J (our new truck!). He was listed on a website for Cable Dahmer Chevrolet in Independence, MO. We called them at 6:30 the night we saw the add (they closed at 8pm), and asked if they still had this truck. They did, and we said we would drive out that night if they were staying open until 8pm. Here is the thing with finding a used dually in good shape in the midwest- they sell like hot cakes! Each time we found one and made the call, and got ready to fly to another state or drive if close enough, it was sold right away. We even offered deposits if they would hold the truck for one day for us.

The night we found our truck, the staff actually stayed late that night helping us close the deal. Ahn-J is a 2014 Silverado 3500HD LTZ Diesel Dually, and fully ready to tow anything we can afford. We named him Ahn-J because it was the last four letters of his temporary license tag, and John could not stop calling him “Ahn-J the Giant.” The previous owner took great care of it, and towed with it as well.

Finding The Right 5th Wheel

Our first viewing of 5th wheels occurred at Olathe Ford RV near Kansas City. It left us with an awful feeling about RV shopping. We felt like the staff either assumed we knew nothing about 5th wheels (which at that time we didn’t), or had dealt with so many RVs that they just weren’t keeping them all straight. They didn’t listen to anything we were asking them, and showed us several that we had no interest in.

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They actually tried to convince us that fixing the entire undercarriage of a 5th wheel, which was falling through to the ground, would be cheap and easy. They expected us to pay $44,000 for the 2013 Cedar Creek 36RE with exterior damage, and cheap furniture that clearly wasn’t stock. It was seeming like the lifestyle we wanted was slipping from our reach. If you really want to have fun at a dealership- show up with a dually that already has a hitch installed. Showing up in our Ford Escape was likely not impressive to them and certainly didn’t make them get out of their seats. However, when we show up in the dually, suddenly they open the doors and not just one salesman, often several. We preferred to look at this dealerships selection over the local Camping World- but we couldn’t get them to pay attention to us. If you are shopping and don’t have the truck yet- borrow one. It will change everything about the situation.

One of the biggest things that we noticed, was that they could smell how green we were at all of this. They were showing us all kinds of 5th wheels sitting on the lot, used (like we asked) that needed major repairs. They were not going to do the repairs unless it sold. That told us they didn’t have confidence they would get their money back, and considered these units as last ditch sales. If a 5th wheel you are being shown is sitting on the lot with major flaws, WALK AWAY.

After Olathe we went to an RV show at the Overland Park Convention Center. We were able to view a few fifth wheels there. Four of them were way out of our budget (but nice to dream about), one was very close and super comfortable. It was a Blue Ridge 3025RL, 35 foot 5th wheel! The layout was absolutely perfect. We might have purchased it then if we had had all of our ducks in a row. RV Shows are a great way to get excellent prices. We have not seen the flaws and damages we often see at RV Dealerships (this was very odd to us).

Slightly overwhelmed, we took our friends with us to check out Camping World of Kansas City. We made a fun day of it. We thought we knew a lot at this point having been to a show and anotherRV dealership. This was another surreal experience in itself. We told them what we were looking for and they also showed us many part time or vacationing rigs that were essentially not checking enough of our boxes.

We decided to listen to the way they make loans for these units which was enticing to say the least. They offered structures similar to home loans, that meant we could stretch the payments out. If we could go back in time we would have told ourselves to drive to another city with more RV Dealerships and not.

Hindsight is 20/20 and What Not:

If we could go back in time with what we know today, here are the things we would have done:

  1. Buying the truck first worked out well for us. We researched a lot and got a truck that could handle anything we could afford at that point.
  2. Do not limit your options by settling for the two RV Dealerships in your town. Spend the time to go to shows, dealerships in several areas, and really narrow down what you want.
  3. Have whatever you intend to buy, fully inspected by the NRVIA. To find a local inspector, on the top of their web page, select find an inspector. It will cost a decent chunk of money, but it is a great way to cover your investment. It gives you an initial punch list of things the dealership needs to repair. If you are buying the unit “Used As Is” they likely will not fix it, but it will give you a good idea of how much this rig will need to make it sound and wether it is worth the time and finances to repair it.
  4. Become as handy as you can- home repair, vehicle repair, this will prepare you for life on the road, save you a ton of money, and likely your repair will work better than before.
  5. Have an attorney read over your loan paperwork.

If you want to see how our process ended up and why we recommend these lessons – Check out this playlist. Bare with us, we were new to the  youtube life at this point. As far as regrets go, we made it past what happened and were doing much better traveling fulltime now.

Let us know any tips you have by leaving comments below, and as always, Safe and Happy Travels!

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