For many RV buyers, a new trailer or motorhome isn’t necessarily complete when it rolls off the lot. New owners often apply additional modifications as RV upgrades once it’s in their hands, and many of these aftermarket add-ons add value to their vehicle. Owners are wise to invest and keep track of these additions. They make trips more enjoyable and safer during your time as an owner and they may enhance the resale value of your RV when it’s time to change to a new unit.
So what are some of these popular features new owners add shortly after purchasing? Understandably, these will vary greatly depending on the rig type. (After all, a tent trailer owner will obviously have a different “must-have list” than a diesel pusher). But there are some upgrades that cross RV types, and we’ll explore some of those here. But don’t stop there! Research other value-adding upgrades for your specific type of unit (or even model) that may pay off.
Here’s a list of upgrades that will not only improve your RV but will add value when it comes time to sell.
Tire Monitor Systems
An extremely popular upgrade across all types and sizes of RVs is tire pressure monitor systems (TPMS). These range from self-installed screw-on cap types with stand-alone wireless receivers to full-featured internal tire pressure and temperature transmitters. While the later type generally is more a factory option opted to purchase, the easy screw-on kits are very effective and economically priced.
Adding a TPMS to your rig immediately helps you improve the life of your tires. Given road hazards, widely varying temperatures, long miles, and other surprises along the road, the best thing you can do for your tires is monitor air pressure, giving you a heads up before a minor issue becomes a major issue.
Solar is becoming an increasingly popular add-on to many RVs, especially for boondockers. Adding solar panels — and the equipment needed to process solar power — gives you and your rig more independence to travel where you want and remain powered. Keep in mind: when it comes to the RV community, some are still hesitant to equip their setup with solar. And that may be more true for new RVers who are already facing a learning curve in other areas. So to ensure solar doesn’t hurt the value of your RV, make sure you invest in quality products that are easy to use.
Most travel trailers and fifth wheels do not come equipped with a portable generator. Certain features like electric fireplaces will require more power than a typical 12V can handle, and they will have to rely on shore power or a portable generator. This can be a good upgrade to add that may increase the sellability of your unit. While you may want to keep your generator when you sell your RV, invest in a generator that will remain reliable long-term, whether that’s for you or the next owner.
You will likely want to replace your appliances once they’ve reached the 5-6 year mark. But if you’re timing when to sell your RV with when you replace appliances, it’s a definite benefit to have recently updated the appliances. Those purchasing a used RV will already be nervous about looming repairs, and it’s a guaranteed way to sway them towards purchasing the RV if they are less likely to have to replace appliances.
Additional Aftermarket Electronics
Other aftermarket electronic/electric items owners choose are things like portable generators, satellite television receivers and antennas, upgraded audio equipment, in-line power surge protectors, emergency automatic weather broadcast receivers, and similar electronic hardware.
Covers & Winterization Stock
Trailer covers are an important item for winterizing your RV, and you should consider these along with anything else in the winterization process to purchase and keep in stock prior to selling your RV. While not necessarily an upgrade, trailer and RV covers and similar investments not only protect your rig, but they demonstrate the care you’ve shown your RV when in your possession. This is a clear indicator you’ve been a good RV owner. And you should be!
Other items such as wheel chokes, security alarm devices, hitch locks, lighting features, and of course, a couple of jugs of RV anti-freeze are also popular items. For most of these, the RV owner’s motivation is adding to the needed utility hardware and protective off-season items. Then there is the walk-through of a large RV camping retail store such as Camping World. Here it is not only easy to find items you need, but also difficult to pass up items you really don’t need but want.
Shopping for RV Upgrades
I have owned a half dozen motorhomes since joining the RV lifestyle years ago. Like most RVers know, vehicle issues happen from time to time. Many of these problems require a visit to your dealer or O.E.M. service center. While the majority of RV owners find these repair visits inconvenient and somewhat boring, I really did not. I found them interesting and very informative and looked forward to them. Plus, I had an ulterior motive that made the trip worthwhile, or at least, much more enjoyable.
So, what was the delight I generally found in most of these RV service center shops? Well, in as much as having a technician repair or replace a failed component, like say an RV refrigerator control board, it is now no different than before it failed. In other words, the fridge works like it used to. No better, no worse. There is nothing exciting here, just same old.
For me, before I go to a service depot, I scope out their product line. What accessories or options do they handle? Upon studying the available products they sell I usually come up with an item or component I would love to add to my rig. It might be an automatic start kit for my generator, a back-up camera, a GPS navigation receiver, an awning, or a host of items. This is the perfect time for such purposes. After all, not only can you purchase a long-sought item, but it can be professionally installed now.
For me, this method worked well. Once I have done all the preliminary work of sourcing what I want and ordering it for installation at the same time, the service appointment becomes far more fun. Now I am looking forward to it. When I return after the service appointment, I will have something better than I did before.
Now, I know there are costs here to consider. But I would end up buying most of these add-ons one day anyway. Additionally, there are less expensive items and gadgets that can be just as fun to add and can brighten up an otherwise humdrum service day. Extended hotdog/marshmallow forks for around-the-fire evening snacks come to mind.
So, surprise your RV ride with a treat next time a shop trip is needed.
Peter Mercer – Looking in the RV Toy Box