How Much Do Campers Depreciate

You’ve probably heard the old saying about vehicles losing value the moment they roll off the lot, right? Well, campers aren’t immune to this universal law of “buy high, sell not-so-high.” But before you start picturing your RV’s value plummeting faster than a lead balloon, let’s take a closer detour into what this really means for you and your beloved home-on-wheels.

Campers, those rolling embodiments of freedom and adventure, indeed have their tales of depreciation. It’s not just a matter of numbers on a spreadsheet; it’s about understanding the life cycle of your prized possession. As someone who’s either beaming with pride over a new purchase or thoughtfully considering diving into RV life, you’re in the right place to learn the ins and outs of camper value.

The Bitter Truth of the First Year

You know that feeling of walking out of a restaurant, leftovers in hand, reminiscing about the meal that was just a little bit better when it was served fresh? Well, buying a new camper can feel a bit like that, but with a slightly larger financial implication. 

Let’s get straight to it: campers, much like cars, lose a significant slice of their value almost as soon as you take them out for their first spin.

In the world of RVs, this isn’t just small change. The moment you drive your camper off the dealer’s lot, it can lose anywhere from 20% to 30% of its value. Yes, you read that right. If your shiny new camper cost you $100,000, by the time you’ve introduced it to your driveway, it could be worth as much as $30,000 less. Ouch, right?

This steep depreciation in the first year can be attributed to a few factors. First, the transition from ‘new’ to ‘used’ status hits hard in the RV market. It’s like that feeling when your brand-new hiking boots first get scuffed – suddenly, they’re not as shiny and perfect. Second, market demand plays a role. The market for brand-new campers is always bustling, but the market for used ones? Not so much. It’s a bit like the difference between a hot new restaurant and last year’s go-to spot – both are great, but one is just a bit more in the spotlight.

Understanding this initial depreciation is crucial, especially if you’re considering selling your camper in the near future. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Knowledge is power, and you’re already one step ahead by grappling with these figures. Being aware of this early value drop helps you make more informed decisions, whether it’s about budgeting, financing, or planning the timing of a future resale.

Depreciation over Time

You’ve likely heard the old talk about new vehicles and their rapid value drop in the first year. Well, hold onto your hats, because when it comes to campers, this depreciation story stretches far beyond the initial 12 months. It’s not a fleeting first-year romance; it’s more like a long-term relationship, evolving.

The Gradual Shift in Value

Think of your camper as an asset that gradually shifts. This depreciation isn’t a sprint; it’s more of a marathon. From the proud, shining days of its youth to its more mature, lived-in years, your camper’s value changes at a pace that might surprise you.

Factors That Influence the Long Haul

  1. Make and Model Matter: Just like in the car world, certain brands and models of campers hold their value better than others. An iconic brand or a model known for its durability can be the tortoise in this race, losing value slowly and steadily.
  2. Maintenance is Key: Here’s where you have some control. Regular maintenance can slow down depreciation. On the flip side, neglecting maintenance is like letting your camper binge-watch TV on the couch – not good for its longevity or value.
  3. Usage and Wear: How much you use your camper and how well you treat it also play a role. A well-loved but heavily used camper might lose value faster than a lightly used one. It’s all about finding that sweet spot between enjoying your travels and keeping it in tip-top shape.
  4. Market Trends: The RV market is a living, breathing thing. It responds to trends, economic shifts, and consumer preferences. Sometimes, the market favours sellers; other times, buyers. Keeping an eye on these trends can give you insights into when your camper’s value might dip or spike. 

Auto-Trail: A Class of Its Own?

Auto-Trail doesn’t just bring luxury to the table; it also brings a fascinating depreciation story that might just raise your eyebrows.

The Usual Depreciation Trajectory

Most RVs, once they hit the road, start their downward value spiral, often shedding a significant percentage in the first few years. This is the norm, but it’s also where Auto-Trail starts to write its script.

Auto-Trail: Bucking the Trend?

With Auto-Trail’s reputation for quality, luxury, and durability, it’s like the knight in shining armour in the world of RVs. But does this translate into better value retention? You bet. Several industry experts and resale data suggest that Auto-Trail RVs tend to depreciate at a slower rate compared to some of their peers. Why, you ask? Well, it’s a mix of factors.

The Factors at Play

Brand Reputation: Auto-Trail has carved out a niche for itself as a premium brand. This clout in the RV world is not just for show; it translates into real-world value.

Build Quality: They’re not just pretty faces; these RVs are built to last. High-quality construction means fewer issues down the line, which equals better value retention.

Desirable Features: Auto-Trail packs its RVs with features that go beyond the standard. These features stay desirable even as the RV ages, keeping its appeal (and value) up.

Resale values for Auto-Trail RVs consistently show a smaller gap from their original price compared to many other brands, especially over a 5 to 10-year period. This isn’t just hearsay; it’s backed up by resale listings and expert valuations.

As an RV enthusiast, this is music to your ears, right? Choosing an Auto-Trail could mean your investment stays healthier for longer. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can ignore regular maintenance and care (these beauties need love too!), but it does mean you’re potentially ahead of the game in the long-term financial aspect of RV ownership.

Slowing Down Depreciation

Just like a cherished pet, your camper needs your constant love, care, and attention. No, you don’t need to take it for walks, but regular maintenance is non-negotiable. Think of it this way: every oil change, every tyre check, and every bit of upkeep is like feeding and grooming your four-legged friend. It’s not just about keeping it running; it’s about preserving its value.


Routine maintenance is your first line of defence against depreciation. This isn’t just about following a schedule; it’s about understanding your camper’s needs. Regular checks and servicing, especially before and after long trips, can save you from future headaches. And trust me, nothing screams ‘well-maintained’ like a detailed service record when it’s time to sell.

Upgrades: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

When it comes to upgrades, it’s a delicate dance. On one hand, certain upgrades can make your RV more appealing and functional. On the other hand, going overboard or choosing the wrong type of upgrades can actually hurt its resale value. Stick to those that improve functionality and comfort, like solar panels or an upgraded HVAC system. And remember, sometimes less is more.

Usage Patterns

How you use your camper plays a big role in its depreciation. It’s like wearing your favourite pair of shoes – wear them out every day, and they’ll look old in no time. The same goes for your RV. Frequent, heavy use will speed up depreciation. So, balance your adventures with the health of your camper in mind. It’s not about limiting your fun; it’s about smart, sustainable adventuring.