How Depreciation Affects Travel Trailer Value

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Updated April 12, 2024

People ask us all the time which RV they should buy, and our answer is always to buy a used RV over a new RV to get the best price. This is because RVs depreciate in value.

Just like all vehicles, a fifth wheel, motorhome, or travel trailer will experience depreciation. Travel trailers and fifth wheels seem to hold their value a little bit longer because they don’t have the motor and mechanics that motorhomes have.

Higher-quality and more popular designs might hold their value much longer than more cheaply made RVs. If you are trying to decide which travel trailer to buy, we suggest doing some research to find well-built travel trailers.

Read on to learn what year RV you should buy to save the most money and which towable travel trailers have the best resale value. After rating, reviewing and touring RVs for over 5 years, we have a pretty good handle on travel trailer values and depreciation.

What’s The Depreciation On a New Travel Trailer After Purchase?

The depreciation on a new travel trailer after purchase is extensive and dependent on the class of the RV. For the most part, we’re talking Class As, Bs (campervans), Cs, travel trailers, and fifth wheels. On average, expect to lose about 20% of the RV’s value the moment you secure the hitch and haul it off or crank up the engine. 

Of the types of motorhomes, including Class B+ and Super Cs, the Class C depreciates the least and has the best resale value of the motorhomes, three years down the road. Travel trailers and fifth wheels depreciate at roughly the same rate.

  • Class A Motorhome: 25% to 30% in three years
  • Class B Motorhome: 30% in three years
  • Class C Motorhome: 26% to 27% in three years
  • Fifth Wheel: 25% in three years
  • Travel Trailer: 25% in three years

Considering the price of a brand-new RV these days, the depreciation rates are staggering. However, that’s part of the price you pay for opting for RV life. The best thing you can do is practice good, routine maintenance. Take care of your RV, and she will take care of you. 

How Much Can You Negotiate New RV Prices?

While it’s not a return to the days of bartering at the marketplace, paying in livestock and personal goods, the amount of negotiating you can do is surprising. In fact, if you play your cards right, you will go a long way towards reducing or outright eliminating that first three-year depreciation rate we discussed above. 

First and foremost, before you ever step into the negotiating arena, you need to be pretty sure you’re going to purchase the RV in question. This is because you’ll want to hire an independent inspector and there’s no reason to spend the money if you’re neither here nor there on the RV. 

Second, visit the dealership in the off-season, when they are trying to clear the lot in anticipation of the new year’s models. Last and most importantly, walk away. Even if you have a ballpark deal you can work with, make the salesman sit on it, not you. Start at 50% and work from there. Remember, they’re playing the same game and have much more experience.

How Much is My Travel Trailer Worth?

Today, there are various travel trailers, with the smallest ones being foldable designs called popups, which can be towed by smaller vehicles.

Then there are the travel trailers that range in size from 8 feet long up to 40 feet in length, with the most common sizes ranging between 18 and 25 feet. The largest travel trailers are referred to as 5th Wheels, which need to be towed by powerful trucks.

Travel trailers can range widely from barebones to fully loaded. Some interior features of travel trailers include multiple rooms, modern technology, and more. Many feature slide-out rooms and porches and have built-in modern creature comforts, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, dining rooms, kitchens, Wi-Fi, TV, etc.

With so many options, it’s tough to determine exactly how much your trailer is worth. You can go to to get a close estimate. After the initial loss, the depreciation should not go down too much in the coming years. By the 8th or 9th year of owning your travel trailer, the value will have dropped to 50% of the cost.

5 Factors that Cause Travel Trailer Depreciation

We all like to buy new and shiny things. Travel trailers are no different. We decided to buy a brand new one because it will see many highways in the next few years.

If you are like us and decide to buy brand new, we want to help you keep the value of your travel trailer as high as possible. Five factors can cause your travel trailer to lose significant value, and we want to help you avoid them.

1.  Exterior Damage, Dents, and Blemishes

Superficial damage, such as dents or dings from hail or road debris, will reduce the value of a travel trailer. Be mindful when turning corners, parking your trailer next to a tree, and pulling into a campsite.

Other exterior blemishes such as fading, discoloration or chipped paint can also decrease a travel trailer’s value. Just like a car, it needs to be washed and waxed regularly to help keep it protected from weather and sun damage that can occur.

RELATED READING: Check out our article called How to Clean the Outside of a Camper Trailer for some great tips to keep your travel trailer looking brand new.

2.  Water Damage

Travel trailers that feature indoor plumbing for kitchen sinks, showers, or toilets must have an onboard water tank or tanks. Unfortunately, these tanks can leak and cause damage. Indicators of a water leak include mold, mildew, rust, and rotted wood.

You need to make sure that you keep an eye on your tank(s) and your under sink plumbing so that you don’t cause your trailer to lose its value sooner than necessary.

Exterior seals and caulk failure are the other major causes of water damage. It is imperative to constantly check for leaks after rain because your travel trailer’s caulk and seals will crack as it bounces and moves when you travel.

If you know you have a leak but can’t find the source, you can look and feel around for water leaks or have a pressure test done.

RELATED READING: Check out our article called Should I Pressure Test My RV for Roof Leaks? for more info.

3.  Condition of Appliances

Many of the newer travel trailers have appliances of convenience such as stoves, refrigerators, and microwaves. You will want to make sure all of these appliances are working correctly to keep the value up on your trailer.

Otherwise, you will only be hurting yourself when you try to sell your trailer. The buyer will want the cost of purchasing new RV-specific appliances taken off of the asking price.

4.  Did the Trailer Receive Regular Maintenance?

If you bought your trailer brand new, it should have come with a maintenance schedule. We need to take ours in yearly to have a once-over and make sure everything is good to go. A well-maintained trailer with a documented service history will likely demand a higher resale price.

So, if you are buying used, make sure you ask for the maintenance documentation. If they don’t have it, you may want to reconsider purchasing that specific trailer.

5.  Improper Storage

Winter Storage

Don’t let your travel trailer rot away over the winter! If you’re not a full-time RVer, it is essential to make sure you store your trailer correctly during the off-season. Leaving your trailer outside will not only expose it to damaging UV rays and lousy weather, but cold critters may find their way in to keep warm.

If you park your trailer in a storage lot, it is a good idea to go out and check on it, at least once a month. Our trailer is in a lot about 10 miles from us, and we go out and check on it regularly to make sure no field mice have made themselves at home, to make sure the tire covers are still in place, and that there isn’t any other damage.

It’s a good idea to cover your RV, keep it under an RV port or garage, or pay for it to stay in storage over the winter. You should not use a regular blue tarp to cover your trailer because it cannot breathe properly and will allow moisture to build up in your rig, in turn reducing its value.

Summer Storage

Sometimes, life happens and all of a sudden our summer travel plans change and the RV needs to be stored for the summer. In many ways storing your RV in hot weather can do more damage to your RV than storing it in winter weather.

RELATED READING: Check out our article called 25 Essential Tips for Storing an RV in Hot Weather for more info.

Wait for 5 to 8 Years to Save on Travel Trailer Depreciation

Unfortunately, depreciation is just a fact of ownership. If you are looking to purchase a travel trailer, you can let others carry the most substantial part of the burden and buy a used RV. Turn what many people consider to be a disadvantage to your advantage.

By the five-year mark, there will be an expected depreciation of almost 40%. When you are purchasing something as expensive as a home on wheels, that is quite the discount.

Why Do RVs Depreciate So Quickly?

RVs depreciate quickly because of various factors such as time, wear and tear, and the type of RV. While houses can increase in value over time, RVs lose value as a depreciating asset. 

Here are some key reasons RVs depreciate rapidly:

  • Time and Wear: Like cars and other vehicles, RVs lose value over time because of aging and wear and tear.
  • Type of RV: Different RVs depreciate at varying rates. Class A and C motorhomes and fifth wheels have higher depreciation rates than smaller RVs like travel trailers.
  • Initial Depreciation: New RVs experience a significant initial depreciation, with some models losing up to 30% of their value in the first few years.
  • Condition: The condition of the RV plays a crucial role in its depreciation rate. Well-maintained RVs keep their value better than those with significant wear or damage.
  • Market Demand: Economic factors and market demand can also affect RV depreciation rates. High demand for specific brands or models may cause slower depreciation.

Here are some strategies to combat rapid depreciation:

  • Regular Maintenance: Keeping up with maintenance schedules and promptly addressing issues can help maintain your RV’s value.
  • Buy Used: Purchasing a used RV can help avoid the steep initial depreciation experienced by new vehicles.
  • Rent Out Your RV: Renting out your RV when not in use can generate income and offset depreciation costs.

Should You Buy A New Or Used RV?

One of the most significant decisions when purchasing an RV is if you want to buy a new or used model. While both options have pros and cons, understanding the concept of depreciation can help you make a more informed decision.

Depreciation is a natural decrease in value that occurs over time with any type of vehicle, including RVs. When you purchase a brand-new RV and take it off the lot, its value automatically decreases. Most RVs lose around 20% of their value during the first year of ownership.

So what does this mean for your decision?

New RVs

Buying a shiny new RV is an exciting prospect for many people. The allure of being the first to own and use a vehicle can be hard to resist. 

Here are some benefits of buying a new RV:


1. Warranty Coverage: New RVs typically come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which can provide peace of mind if any issues arise.

2. Customization Options: You can customize your RV exactly how you want it, from choosing the interior design to adding additional features and upgrades.

3. Advanced Features: With each new model year, RV manufacturers introduce new and improved features that may not be available on older models.

However, there are also some drawbacks when purchasing a new RV.


1. Higher Price Tag: As soon as a new RV is driven off the lot, it loses value because of depreciation. Therefore, purchasing a used RV may be less expensive.

2. Limited Selection: Since newer models are constantly being released, you may have a more limited selection of floor plans and features.

3. Initial Maintenance Costs: With any new vehicle, some initial maintenance costs may come with breaking in the engine and getting everything running smoothly.

Whether you decide to buy a new or used RV will depend on your personal preferences and budget. If having the latest features and customizations is important, purchasing a new RV may be worth the higher cost. 

However, a used RV may be the way to go if you’re looking for a more affordable option and are okay with sacrificing some newer features.

Used RVs

Pre-owned RVs can also be an excellent choice for first-time buyers who want to test out the RV lifestyle without making a substantial financial commitment. 


1. Lower cost: The most obvious advantage of buying a used RV is the lower cost than a new one. Used RVs have already undergone initial depreciation, so you can often find them at a significantly lower price.

2. More variety: Used RVs come in all shapes and sizes, giving you a more comprehensive range of options. You can find an older model with more features or upgrades than a newer model at the same price point.

3. Already broken in: Buying a used RV means the vehicle has already gone through the breaking-in process, and the previous owner has likely addressed any potential issues. Therefore, you can save time and money on repairs in the long run.


1. Limited warranty: When buying a used RV, you may not receive any warranty coverage, leaving you responsible for any repairs or issues that may occur after the purchase.

2. Potential maintenance costs: While the previous owner may have addressed some issues, buying a used RV may still come with hidden maintenance costs. Inspect the vehicle thoroughly and consider getting a professional inspection before purchasing.

3. Limited customization options: Buying a used RV limits your ability to customize it to your specific needs and preferences. If you have your heart set on purchasing a particular model, you may need to compromise certain features or renovations.

While buying a used RV may seem like a cost-effective option initially, it is essential to consider all the potential hidden costs and drawbacks before deciding. 

Ultimately, carefully weighing the pros and cons of buying a used RV versus a new one is crucial in deciding your budget and needs.

Rent Out Your Travel Trailer to Offset Depreciation

It can be a big purchase to buy a travel trailer. And, unless your lifestyle or retirement keeps you on the move all day every day, that trailer could be sitting collecting dust when not in use. Instead of collecting dust, you could be collecting dollars.

There are many reasons RV owners should consider making their RV work for them. Depreciation, insurance payments, and storage fees add up quickly. Even as a full-time RVer, the cost of RV life can be daunting and scary.

Since depreciation is so significant in the first year of purchasing a travel trailer, why not rent it out when you aren’t using it. By renting your trailer out, you could be putting that extra money you are making towards your principal balance. By putting that extra money towards your principal, you can help pay down your loan faster, in turn helping with the depreciation.

Some statistics show family motorhomes go unused 90% of the year. Similar to a home or room rental, there is a way RV owners can list their motorhome or travel trailer to potential renters. Websites like allow people to market and rent out their RVs to earn extra money.

On sites like these, visitors can do one-stop shopping and view hundreds of options in their neck of the woods. Many people are looking to enjoy the same RV adventures without the commitment of actually buying one.

Rather than worrying about storage fees, you might consider the benefits of renting your trailer to families wanting that unique adventure abroad in a home on wheels away from home.

“Renting out my Class C motorhome for just a few weeks a year can help offset the interest I’m paying and the depreciation of the value of my rig. As someone who financed a 10-year-old RV, this is a huge incentive. I can only imagine how much I’d make if I didn’t live in it!”

If you are looking to offset your travel trailer’s depreciation, many owners say that watching the money roll in is much better than watching the money roll out.

Which RVs Hold Their Value The Best? 

RVs can experience different levels of depreciation. Some hold their value better than others, and knowing which ones do can help you make a more informed decision when purchasing an RV. It’s tough to completely avoid travel trailer depreciation, however, these models may not hurt the wallet as much.

We have been touring, reviewing and rating RVs for the past five years, and here are some RVs we know hold their value well:

1. Airstreams: These iconic aluminum-clad trailers symbolize the RV lifestyle and are known for retaining their value. The primary reason is the use of high-quality materials and the strong demand for these classic models.

2. Fiberglass Models: Fiberglass RVs, such as those made by Casita or Scamp, also hold their value well. The lightweight material is durable and easy to maintain, making it popular among new and experienced RVers.

3. Diesel Pushers: While they may come with a higher price tag upfront, diesel motorhomes often hold their value better than gas-powered ones. They are also more fuel-efficient and have a longer lifespan, making them a smart investment for RVers looking to hit the road for extended periods.

4. Luxury Models: Airstream, Winnebago, or Newmar build high-end RVs with top-of-the-line materials and amenities that help maintain their value. These luxury models often have advanced features like heated floors, premium appliances, and state-of-the-art technology.

5. Vintage Trailers: Classic trailers from brands like Shasta or Spartan are in high demand among collectors and enthusiasts. These vintage models can hold their value well if maintained properly. Plus, their charm and nostalgia make them a desirable choice for travelers looking for a unique experience on the road.

Do Any RVs Increase In Value?

The only time in history that RVs increased in value was during COVID from 2020 through 2021. This is because the demand for RVs was so high that the manufacturers couldn’t make them fast enough to meet the demand.

We visited many dealerships during those years that had very little inventory. But this is not the case most of the time, and certainly not now.

Final Words About Travel Trailer Depreciation

Thanks for reading this article. We would like to know your thoughts on your travel trailer’s depreciation. How long have you had your trailer, and how much has it depreciated? Would you consider renting it out to help offset the depreciation cost?

Please leave your thoughts or suggestions in the comments section below.

If you would like to email me directly, please visit our Contact Page to send us an email.

Related Reading:

Are Mercedes Chassis Motorhomes Worth It?
25 Wise Reasons Not To Buy An RV
How To Sell Your RV For Top Dollar
How Does RV Consignment Really Work?

Mike Scarpignato – Bio

Mike Scarpignato created over five years ago in 2018 to share all we have learned about RV camping.

Mike is an avid outdoorsman with decades of experience tent camping and traveling in his 2008 Gulf Stream Conquest Class C RV and 2021 Thor Challenger Class A motorhome.

We attend RV Shows and visit RV dealerships all across the country to tour and review drivable motorhomes and towable trailers to provide the best evaluations of these RVs in our blog articles and YouTube videos.

We are 3/4-time RVers who created to provide helpful information about all kinds of RVs and related products, gear, camping memberships, tips, hacks and advice.

Mike and Susan from RVBlogger at an RV Show touring reviewing and rating RVs

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6 thoughts on “How Depreciation Affects Travel Trailer Value”

  1. I agree. Great Article. My folks left me their 2018 Arctic fox TT and I am trying to sell it, something I’ve never done & lack any experience on the process. They barely used it & has been well taken care of. I wonder is my 32A silver Fox edition one of the ones that hold their value a little longer?

  2. Very informative article. I had never thought about renting it out.but thats a good idea but,idea but, if the renters tear it up and don’t take care of it that would be my only concern.we just purchased a 2001cardinal fifth wheel 36ft. And getting ready to put in a storage for winter. The only storage avail in my area is 50 miles.i don’t think i could rent it out over the winter in my area.too cold.but idid learn some things by reading it.

    • Great article!!

      My wife and I are considering a new travel trailer. We have never owned one and really know nothing about it. Your article was extremely informative.

      Thank you!

      • Hi Bill,
        Thanks very much! I’m really glad you liked the article!
        If you don’t mind I have a small piece of advice that helped us and it may help you too.
        If you have never owned a travel trailer I would suggest you rent one for a week or two and see how you like it! Susan and I did this when we were considering buying a class C and we learned a ton about what we liked and didn’t like about Class Cs so when we bought one we made a great buying decision. You will learn the same about a travel trailer.
        If you can’t haul a travel trailer you can find RV renters who will deliver the travel trailer right to your campsite (for a small fee) and pick it back up when you are done so it couldn’t be easier.
        Below are the links to the RV Rentals Category on the website which has over 30 articles all about RVing and I’ll also attach a link to our RV Rental YouTube Video.
        We are big fans of Outdoorsy RV Rentals and if you use any of our links you will save $50 on your first RV rental! I hope this info helps.
        Good luck and let me know how you make out.

        Link straight to Outdoorsy

        Link to our RV Rental Articles

        YouTube Video about RV Rentals


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