How Much Do Campers Depreciate?

Touring the country in a motorhome can be a fantastic experience. However, making the initial purchase can be burdensome and fraught with unexpected financial consequences. The most obvious of these consequences is depreciation. Unfortunately, RVs lose their value quickly, and this depreciation can become problematic for anyone trying to sell a used RV.

There are many factors which influence a camper’s depreciation. Understanding these factors can help you maintain your RV’s value. You’ll also fare far better in a dealer’s lot, as you’ll be fully aware of where your hard-earned dollars are going.

Depreciation Factors to Consider

Several factors play into depreciation. The hardest to combat is time. While mileage does not play a significant role in the value of your recreational vehicle, time certainly does. When buying a new RV, it is estimated that you lose 20% of your RV’s value only by driving off the lot. 

However, there are a plethora of other factors that have a significant effect on the value of your RV. These include the class your vehicle belongs to, proper maintenance scheduling, and various types of damage that may occur during ownership.

Class Type

Nearly all motorhomes fall under one of three distinct classes. Class A motorhomes are the most extensive and most expensive of these classes. Class B vehicles tend to be the smallest and least expensive, followed closely by non-motorized RVs such as travel trailers.

Depreciation rates vary among classes. On average, fifth-wheels have the most rapid depreciation, followed closely by Class A and Class B vehicles.

External Damages

Sometimes, appearances do matter. When it comes to the value of your RV, this is undoubtedly the case. Any external damages, such as dents, dings, or scratches, can cause drastic depreciation. Though these forms of damage may be purely cosmetic, they are not to be ignored.

Often, these flaws are repaired quickly and inexpensively. Ensuring that your RV looks fantastic on the outside is one of the primary ways you can maintain, or even increase its value.

Maintenance and Upkeep Records

Routine scheduled maintenance not only prolongs the life of your recreational vehicle, it ensures that your car remains in good enough condition to resell it. Buyers that are considering purchasing a used RV will be adamant about service receipts and records.

Keeping track of your oil changes, parts replacements, repairs, and tune-up may mean seem tedious. But without this paperwork, the value of your RV plummets.

Water Damage

Motorhomes with toilets, showers, or sinks also contain at least one water tank. You can often find the water tank beneath the body of the RV, though smaller rigs occasionally feature interior tanks. These tanks can leak, causing water to pool on the inside of the vehicle. If not immediately repaired and treated, water tank leakage can cause rot, rust, and mold.

Even RVs without plumbing are not immune to water damage. Travel trailers and camping trailers may develop loose seals and caulking as a result of consistent inclement weather conditions, like high winds and heavy rains.

The exterior seals and seam caulking also naturally degrades and warps over time as a result of travel. Keeping your RV maintained and regularly checking for leaks can help prevent substantial depreciation as a result of water damage.

Brand Power

Nearly everyone has a preferred brand, whether it be for toilet paper or perfume. We tend to associate influential brand names with high quality products. Whenever possible, we choose those branded products over generic equivalents.

Brand power is exceptionally influential in the RV market. Chances are, you've heard of Winnebago, Airstream, and Coachmen campers and travel trailers. Imagine that you are allowed to choose an RV for yourself. Your options came down to one of the larger brands versus an unknown brand. Statisically, you are far more likely to go with the larger brand.

This natural choice is the result of equating big brand names with superior quality, and it affects far more than your sense of taste. An RV made by a trusted brand will depreciate less quickly than an RV made by a lesser-known brand.

Broken or Old Appliances

Technology is evolving exponentially. Many of the electronic devices that we use daily did not exist twenty years ago, at least not in their current form. Modern motorhomes are often built with microwaves, ovens, television sets, USB chargers, and more.

Imagine stepping up and into a beautiful RV and finding a full analog television, a VHS tape player and a busted microwave oven. Not only are you likely to be put off by the outdated technology, but broken appliances don't bode well for the state of the rest of the vehicle.

While your RV may be in remarkable condition beneath the hood, its value will depreciate immensely if the appliances within are broken or old. Regularly maintaining, replacing, and updating the devices in your camper is a great way to offset depreciation.

Outdoor Storage

One of the worst things you could do to your RV is to keep it stored outdoors, uncovered. Both weather and time cause corrosion to many crucial parts of your motorhome. A single year of outdoor storage and disuse can lead to thousands of dollars in repairs. Extreme cold or heat also encourages the arrival of pests, which will find the shelter of your RV quite comfy.

Avoiding pests and repairs is easy. When not in use, your RV is best stored in a garage, though a covered carport will also work. If you do not have the space on your property to store your RV correctly, try exploring your local storage lots and garages. There are often several competing companies in any given area, allowing you to choose the service that best your needs, and for the best price.

Never, ever cover your RV with a tarp and hope that it will be enough to protect it from the elements. Thick plastic tarp tends to trap heat and moisture, making your motorhome a motor-swamp.

Buying New Vs. Used

A brand-new motorhome is a lot like a new pair of designer shoes. Both look phenomenal, cost you a pretty penny, and lose a significant portion of their value as soon as you use them. Also, both can take quite a lot of time to break-in.

New RVs tend to require quite a lot of love, care, and attention. You could have a camper that was built by the brightest engineer and expert, and you may still find that you encounter troubles from time to time. These issues vary in seriousness, and most warranties will cover the necessary repairs. But it can be extremely frustrating to continuously swing by the dealership, especially when you realize that the breaking-in period for an RV can last several years.

Besides, they lose a tremendous amount of value within the first year. Though the specific rate of depreciation varies from class to class, the best way to lose money quickly is to buy a brand-new RV, especially a large one.

On the other hand, a properly maintained and used RV can cost several thousand dollars less and be far more reliable. These vehicles have been through the worst and survived it. Most motorhomes can travel 200,000 miles before requiring engine work, and a well-built RV can last for up to 20 years. So, age should not be a crucial factor when choosing a used RV.

When purchasing a new motorhome, your options are generally limited to the dealership’s inventory. In contrast, there are thousands of used RVs for sale online. You can find nearly any class or type of recreational vehicle. And if you decide to sell your camper, they can also assist you with that!

The final decision is yours to make. Both new and used RVs have significant pros and cons. But for those of you who have your hearts set on a new camper, watch out! You may be persuaded into paying a much higher price than you should.

Understanding MSRP

MSRP, or Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price, is an inflated price. It is most often used in automobile sales. Strictly speaking, it is the recommended price for a specific vehicle. The amount that a dealership pays to purchase a car is called invoice price. Car dealerships turn a profit by attempting to sell their vehicles as close to MSRP as possible.

While it is the car salesman's job to convince to part with as much money as possible, it is your responsibility to bargain for a reasonable price. No dealership sells its vehicles at MSRP. Each one has its sales and gimmicks to entice buyers. Check the invoice price for the RV that catches your fancy. It may grant you the financial clarity you've been seeking.

Depreciation Rates by RV Type

Not all RVs are created equal. Some are very large and difficult to drive. Others are small and engineless. Because there is such disparity among the sizes and types of RVs, there is a similar disparity among the depreciation rates for each class and model. However, there is a general rule: The larger the camper, the more quickly it depreciates.

Today, let’s examine how depreciation works for some common types of campers.

Class A

Any RV belonging to Class A is large. Campers that fall under this category can be up to 45 feet in length and cost between $100,000 and $200,000. These RVs depreciate quickly. After three years of ownership, your RV is likely to be worth approximately 30% less than when you purchased it.

After ten years of ownership, your Class A RV will depreciate to less than half of what you paid for it.

Class C

Of all the motorized campers, the Class C vehicles depreciate the slowest. With a length of 33 feet, a Class C RV is the sweet spot between a camper van and tour bus. After five years of life with a Class C vehicle, you can expect a rate of about 38% depreciation. After another five years, that rate barely trips 50%.

Travel Trailer

Travel trailers, also known as camping trailers, have an astounding size range. They can compact enough to be towed by an SUV, and large enough to dwarf a sizeable fifth-wheel. Though their size varies greatly, the general rate of depreciation for these camping trailers does not.

After five years of owning a travel trailer, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s still worth approximately 60% of what you paid for it.


These RVs are large, towable apartments. They can be equipped with all the comforts of home, making them an excellent choice for a family of backseat drivers! Unfortunately, this life of luxury does come a sizeable depreciation cost.

After only five years of touring the land with your fifth-wheel, it has decreased in value by 45%. After a total of ten years, this percentage jumps to 71%.

Finding the Value of Your Current RV

Because there are so many factors that go into determining how much a camper depreciates, it can be challenging to calculate an accurate value for your RV.

However, there are a staggering amount of resources online that can help you research, compare, and calculate the value of your RV. Keeping the mitigating factors in mind, you can use these search tools to figure an amount for your camper or travel trailer.

If you have a pencil and some paper, you can also do the necessary calculation yourself, with the help of a general table of depreciation percentages. Write down the amount you've paid for the RV, calculate how many years you've owned it, and find the correlating interest. Subtract that percentage from the total paid, and you'll have the depreciated value.

Final Thoughts on RV Depreciation

There are many ways in which an RV can depreciate. As soon as one is purchased, it has lost nearly 25% of its value! Understanding the litany of factors that influence depreciation is imperative to fighting back against it.

Should you ever hope to sell your RV, or rent it out for business purposes, you must keep it well-maintained and in working order.

Maintenance and upkeep alone may not prevent your RV from losing more than half its value throughout ownership. But it will ensure that it sells quickly and for the highest price possible.