Buying a Used Airstream

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Airstream occupies a unique place in American recreational vehicle history. On the one hand, the venerable brand continues to manufacture luxury travel trailers and motorhomes. On the other hand, collectors snap up classic examples of Airstream trailers due to their iconic status in the pantheon of modern design. This collectibility factor puts an interesting twist on the concept of "buying a used Airstream." However, if you focus on used Airstream trailers and motor homes of the past two decades, you can find affordable models that offer unparalleled luxury coupled with brand status that will make you the envy of your friends. This buying guide covers how to buy a used Airstream for ongoing recreational use, as opposed to how to buy a collectible Airstream trailer.

There are many good reasons to buy a pre-owned Airstream RV. Sticker price is one. New Airstream trailers and motorhomes cater to the most discriminating owners. However, buying a used Airstream allows less affluent buyers to access the good life without a huge cash outlay. But perhaps a better reason is that buying used gives you more RV for your buck. Those upgrades you couldn't afford on a new model? They become very affordable on an RV that's two or three years old.

When buying a used Airstream, remember that your local dealer is your best friend. Not only does your local dealer offer used RVs at reasonable prices, but the experts at the dealership have gone over every RV with a finetooth comb, which gives you a hedge against hidden defects. Use the search feature on our main page to locate the used Airstream RV dealer nearest you or to request information. Used Airstream prices vary based on model, mileage and condition.

Buying a used Airstream is much too complicated to thoroughly cover in a brief buying guide like this. Let's just cover the basics.

With any used RV, begin by inspecting the interior. Look for excessive caulking around windows, which may indicate water leakage. Check the upholstery, flooring and window coverings for rips, tears or repairs. Check out the appliances to make sure they're in good working order. Later, move outside and inspect the hitch welds. Look for rust in the wheel wells or on the undercarriage. And test any slide-outs to make sure they perform smoothly, with no grinding or other alarming sounds.

Next, perform a livability test. Have everyone pile into the motorhome or travel trailer and move around. Is there enough sitting room for everyone? Can two people easily pass in the hallway? If you enjoy cooking, make sure the galley is large enough to accommodate your passion. If you hate cooking, make sure the galley isn't so large that it reduces living space.

A used Airstream makes an excellent choice precisely because of the livability factor. What's not to love about first-class appointments and lavish furnishings? John F. Kennedy found Airstream trailers to be so luxurious that he commissioned one for a "White House on wheels."

Of course, you're also going to want plenty of information about the mechanical condition of any used RV. But do you really have the knowledge and tools to pressure test the propane system?

Generally speaking, rely on your local RV dealer to perform the critical system tests, while you concentrate on the easy-to-see items. At a minimum, your RV dealer will test and inspect all of these components on every used RV they offer:

* Engine and drive train (motorized RVs)
* Brakes, axles and stabilizing jacks
* Water lines, tanks and valves
* Propane system
* Electrical components, such as inverter and battery charger
* Furnace and air conditioner
* Frame and subfloor

The final thing you should do before buying any used RV is take it for a test drive. You can point out any mechanical issues to your sales person, who can get them resolved. And don't forget to request an overnight stay in your used Airstream before making your purchase decision. This will give you an opportunity to test out all the systems and get a feel for how livable the RV really is.

Buying a used Airstream can be a rewarding experience. If you're ready to buy a used Airstream travel trailer or motor home, click on "Airstream RVs" right now, and we'll direct a quote request or a request for information to an Airstream dealer near you.