Buying a motorhome entails doing your research, and getting expert advice where it matters. Claire Smith spoke with the finance specialists at MTF Finance about some of the ongoing costs of RV ownership so you can plan your budget around the basics.
After a long summer break, many of us are considering how we can extend that holiday feeling by purchasing a motorhome or caravan. The first step into RV ownership is to plan a carefully thought-out budget. After all, you want your new RV to be a place for worry-free relaxation rather than worrying about upcoming costs.
If you’re still thinking about the best way to make it happen, the first step is to work out the numbers. MTF Finance Hornby franchise owner Clarke Ferguson says, “We work with customers to provide flexible options around deposits – including no deposit – and terms of up to 60 months, depending on the total cost of the RV.”
Once you’ve sorted your loan with payments that suit your budget, one of the first items on your list of ongoing cost considerations should be insurance. Whether you’re paying off finance or you’ve paid upfront in full, a comprehensive insurance package is vital.
Just as with your car, the cost of insurance will vary greatly depending on the cost of your RV. Other factors – such as your driving record and claims history, and whether the vehicle is used for recreation or permanent residence – will also influence the premiums.
If you’ve purchased your RV through MTF Finance, the team will have all your details on hand, which means they can help you access comprehensive RV insurance quickly and easily. “But for the best value, we recommend joining the NZMCA and making use of the member benefits available – including with specialist RV insurance provider, Covi Insurance,” advises Clarke.
MTF Finance can also set you up with payment waiver protection for your loan – which means if something unpredicted happens like redundancy or illness, your loan payments are taken care of.
It’s also worth considering mechanical breakdown insurance. “If you are purchasing a European RV such as a Fiat or VW, then we always advise that lenders take mechanical insurance simply because these vehicles tend to be more expensive to repair.”
If your ultimate RV is a caravan, you might find a couple of costs you didn’t expect – for example, you need to be sure your tow vehicle is up to the task and has the capacity and durability to comfortably tow your caravan. While smaller caravans and camper trailers can be managed quite well by a medium sedan, wagon or SUV, larger caravans will need to be partnered with something with more pulling power. “MTF Finance can help lenders arrange finance for both vehicles up front,” says Clarke. “Once we’ve got all the information we need, we can have pre-approval arranged within 24 hours” (subject to lending enquiries and checks).
The majority of MTF Finance’s franchise owners are ex-used car dealers, which is an added benefit for lenders considering a tow vehicle purchase along with their caravan. “We can provide good advice on what to look for in a good tow vehicle, how big it needs to be to adequately tow your caravan, what to avoid, and how to spot a lemon,” says Clarke.
When buying your RV, check with the dealer or seller on what accessories are included. Some dealers include things like a TV, awning, solar panels, and satellite dishes in the total purchase cost. And if you’re buying privately, you can probably negotiate with the seller to include most accessories, unless they plan to use them in their next RV.
The good news is, you really don’t need to have all the latest gadgets and goodies to get out on the road and start enjoying your new RV. In fact, most travellers agree that getting some mileage under their belts is the best way to discover exactly what they do and don’t need.
Our advice – don’t be tempted to spend up large on accessories too early. When you are ready to upgrade the TV or buy a better awning, it’s worth going to one of the motorhome shows that take place around the country to check out the options available and find a good deal. The next show is the Auckland Covi Motorhome, Caravan & Outdoor SuperShow, currently planned for March.
Regular servicing of your motorhome is essential to keep it in smooth running order and avoid costly repairs further down the track. The servicing schedule varies between manufacturers, but expect to plan for a service on your diesel vehicle every 10,000km, and every 15,000km for a petrol vehicle. Costs can range from $500 to $1200 per service depending on the age and motorhome model.
WOF or COF?
If your RV has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 3500kg or less, it will need a Warrant of Fitness (WOF). How often this is needed depends on when your vehicle was first registered. This ranges from every six months if it was first registered in 1999 or earlier, to three years for new vehicles.
If your vehicle has a GVW over 3500kg, it will need a Certificate of Fitness (COF). Any vehicle that is subject to a COF will also be required to pay road user charges. The higher the GVW, the more it costs. You can find the latest RUC rates at nzta.govt.nz.
There is no standardised fee for a WOF or COF. Each testing station or garage sets their own price. Typical fees for a two-axle 7000mm motorhome range between $50-$75 for a WOF, and $150-$250 for a COF.
Annual registration fees vary depending on the vehicle type. These fees are based on 12-months of registration.
- WOF based diesel motorhome: $176.56
- COF based motorhome (up to 6000kg): $355.82
- Caravan: $32.48
Good tyres are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment on your RV, so it’s worth investing in a quality brand and ensuring they’re kept in good condition and renewed regularly. A good rule of thumb for changing your RV tyres is to allow for a new set every three to six years. On average, a new set will cost around $1000.
All Fuelled Up
There’s no denying that fuel costs add up when you travel a lot – but for most, the cost is well worth the freedom and relaxed lifestyle that RV travel offers.
Just as with cars, some motorhomes are more fuel efficient than others. This is generally determined by its ‘class’ (A, B, or C):
- Class A vehicles are large, luxurious, and accommodate more people. Because they’re bigger and heavier, they’re also less fuel efficient.
- Class B vehicles include campervans, panel van conversions, and smaller motorhomes. The most fuel efficient of the three, Class B vehicles have compact bathrooms and kitchens and usually accommodate two people.
- Class C vehicles sit in between Class A and B, and are a popular choice for many motorhomers as they are nice and spacious without being too big to drive.
Generally, depending on the weight and type of motorhome or caravan, you can expect to use anywhere between 9L-16L per 100km.
The good news is, there are several ways motorhomers can save on fuel. If you’re a member of the NZMCA, you can save on fuel costs with a Kiwi Fuelcard. And by downloading the Gaspy app to your phone, you can search out the cheapest fuel rates available near you.
MTF Finance makes it easy for you to live the RV lifestyle you’ve been dreaming of – whether it’s your very first caravan or motorhome, or an exciting new upgrade with all the bells and whistles.
- Apply online at mtf.co.nz. You’ll also find our handy loan calculator so you can work out what your repayments are likely to be.
- Prefer a one-to-one, personal approach? No problem, MTF Finance is New Zealand-owned and operated, and our friendly team are more than happy to help sort your loan in person. Contact us directly to arrange an appointment.
- If you’ve got all your information ready to go, MTF Finance can approve your loan within an hour and pay for your RV on the same day!
Ready to take the next step toward your first RV? MTF Finance can help. Get started at mtf.co.nz.
Offer of finance is subject to terms, conditions, lending criteria, responsible lending inquiries and checks. See mtf.co.nz/terms for details.
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