Owning an RV can open up so many doors for traveling in your own space within the comfort of your very own home on wheels, but how long does one last?

So many people out there are on the fence about owning an RV, as committing to this kind of purchase is considerably more pricey than buying your average car. At the end of the day, if you buy a vehicle like an RV, you want to make it last as long as possible, which can be tricky to gauge as there are a number of factors that play into its lifespan.

How long an RV lasts will depend on how well you treat it - with most lasting upwards of 20 years or 200,000 miles under the right circumstances. You can achieve this optimal lifespan with regular maintenance, proper driving & storage, as well as living/traveling in areas with mild climates.

If you are living in the United States, owning an RV can be a real dream come true. Our nation is hands down considered to be the epicenter of RVs around the globe, as 80% of all manufactured in the world are produced in the State of Indiana. With a vast country that is full of beautiful landscapes and stunning scenery, there is no better way to experience it than to get on the open road in an RV. However, owning an RV comes with a lot more responsibility than your average car, as this kind of vehicle is more challenging to maintain and store. In addition, RVs can be extremely expensive, which is why so many people want to know how many miles they can expect to get out of this kind of vehicle before they commit to such a huge purchase. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at how long an RV lasts in more detail.

After extensively researching RV maintenance and upkeep, I have been able to gather enough knowledge and information to determine how long they will last. My experience has taught me that how long an RV lasts is dependent on how well it is treated and looked after, as well as the reputation of the manufacturer.



RV Lifespan

There are a lot of different factors that play into how long an RV will actually last, which can make determining the legitimate lifespan of these vehicles rather challenging. The most important thing that you need to keep in mind is that the longevity of the RV will be primarily based on you and how well you look after it.

The average predicted lifespan of an RV is roughly 20 years or 200,000 miles, but this figure can be significantly shorter if you do not treat your vehicle with respect. On the other hand, if you take exceptionally great care of your RV, there is no reason that you cannot increase its lifespan considerably. This will come with a lot of attention to detail to the various components of the vehicle, as well as external factors such as climate and driving style.

You should also recognize that an RV is a very dynamic vehicle, as there is a lot more going on here compared to your average car. If you are curious specifically about the engine and standard mechanics, then the 200,000-mile figure that we mentioned is a good number to keep in mind (with optimal care). However, an RV also has a lot of other components within it that involve things like vents, fluid systems, and appliances that also need to be looked after. These are the intimate details of an RV that many consumers often overlook when purchasing this kind of vehicle and tend to neglect, which is why you want to have a thorough understanding of all aspects of the RV you are looking at.

When shopping for RVs you will also see them classified differently - as either A, B, or C. Although these classifications imply a different style of RV, they generally do not determine the lifespan of the vehicle. What you will want to do, however, is ensure that you are equipped with the right knowledge of how to operate the specific type of RV that you are buying so that you can understand its do’s and don’ts. Keep reading to learn more about how long an RV lasts.


Keeping routine maintenance of your RV is going to be a must. At the end of the day, you can be the best driver in the world but still have an RV that dies on you very quickly if you neglect it.

To begin, you are going to want to look after the vehicle’s primary mechanical components. For this aspect of your RV’s maintenance, you should approach the upkeep in a similar that you would your average car. This would include standard maintenance like:

  • Brake replacements
  • Wheel alignments
  • Tire pressure
  • Engine tune-ups
  • Oil changes

This is going to be the core of your RV maintenance, as these are the components of your vehicle that will need the most amount of care. One of the number one reasons that I tend to see RVs break down before their time is due to a lack of attentiveness to the vehicle’s engine.

You would be amazed by how many RVs are scrapped due to simple maintenance fixes such as oil changes. However, you also do not want to overlook the other components of your RV such as:

  • Wastewater system
  • Interior decor
  • Vent systems

Have a thorough understanding of all of the interior and exterior components of your RV to prevent issues from occurring down the line. If you see something that needs fixing - fix it!

Luckily, just about every modern RV has an indicator that notifies you when something significant is off. In addition, you should take your RV in for routine maintenance to avoid unnecessary problems later on.

Driving Conditions

Once you have committed to an RV, you are going to want to make sure that you know how to drive it. RVs are not all that difficult to drive but they are going to need to be handled a bit differently than a typical car.

In addition, a wise driver should know what their RV can handle and what it can’t. If you are buying an RV to hit the open road and drive across the country, you are likely going to run into some occasional turbulence along the way. Ultimately, an RV is somewhat of an adventure vehicle but it is not built like a tank - or designed to perform like one.

You may run into situations on the road that are too risky for your RV which can push your vehicle past its limits. These would be road conditions that are not ideal for driving such as:

  • Icy Roads
  • Wet (slippery) Roads
  • Off-road rugged terrains
  • Steep Hills

If you are driving in these kinds of conditions then you should be equipped with the technical ability to handle them, but you should also make sure that your vehicle will be able to push through. Underestimating the danger of the conditions that you are driving in can result in serious mechanical issues with your RV and they can also be life-threatening to you personally.

Climate & Environment

A major reason that RVs fail to meet their optimal lifespan is due to external factors such as climate and the environment. Harsh climates can take a toll on the health of an RV - inside and out.

If you are driving in extreme heat often, this can eventually result in engine issues, as this kind of climate is known for thinning out oil, which prevents optimal flow through all mechanical components.

The best way to remedy this is to simply pull over for breaks periodically to let your RV cool off a bit. However, extreme heat can also lead to cosmetic issues with your RV such as paint peeling, but these are typically not problematic for the lifespan of the vehicle.

In addition, extreme cold can be a problem for RV engines (anything below 32 degrees). To prevent mechanical problems from occurring in cold climates, simply leave your engine on for a few minutes before driving to let it warm up.

Lastly, RVs kept in coastal regions are notorious for having issues with premature rust. The salt in the air will reach the mechanical components of your vehicle, which can significantly lower its optimal lifespan. There is little that you can do to avoid this other than to add a protective RV coating to the appropriate areas of your vehicle.

Storage Conditions

How you store your RV can be an important aspect of maximizing its lifespan. This is not like parking your car and you are going to want to make sure that you have covered all of your bases before you park your vehicle for an extended amount of time.

You are going to want to drain all of the unnecessary fluids in the vehicle, as these can damage your RV over time and degrade its condition - especially if you live in a colder region that gets below freezing temperatures!

If you have a place to store your RV that is protected with a cover or roof, that is going to be ideal. A lot of people tend to park their RVs in front of their house with little to no inspection of their vehicle before turning the engine off for the long haul.

Before you do this, you should always go through the vehicle and conduct a thorough inspection of the exterior and interior. Keep an eye out for any holes or dents that can result in leaks, as these can lead to a lot of issues with the interior of your vehicle. After your initial inspection, check up on your RV every month or so that it is not in use to confirm that its condition is still intact.


Anthony Day

Anthony Day

Hi, my name is Anthony, and RVs are what I'm passionate about. I bought my first RV when I was 21, and I've been hooked ever since. I'll guide you on how they work, how they can be used in different environments, and how they fit into our everyday lives.

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