Craigslist Van and RV Buying Tips

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During the past few months, I’ve been scouring Craigslist and other online classifies in search of the perfect van to be my converted Adventure Van. It was a long process, but I finally grabbed the van I wanted: A 1998 Astro Cargo Van

My 98 Astro Van

My 98 Astro Van

Since it was such a pain, I wanted to show you guys some of the techniques I used when searching the van and RV ads and dealing with sellers and scammers. Here are my Craigslist buying tips.

Update 3/2015 – Bonus Tip – Burner App

Burner App

Burner App

Hey there. I wanted to add a bonus tip that I use quite often when both buying and selling on Craigslist. One thing I don’t like to do is put my phone number on an ad I list or call a random phone number from craigslist using my cell phone. To protect my phone number, I use an iPhone/Android app called Burner.

Burner basically gives you a disposable number you can use in the ad you place or when calling on an ad. You pay a couple bucks to use the number for calls and texts, then it expires after a number of days. I like to use the unlimited text and calls burner for 30 days for $4.99. It’s really handy to have, so check it out:

Watch: Craigslist Van and RV Shopping Tips

Craigslist Van and RV Search Tip #1 – Set up an account

That sounds easy enough, right? Just go to and click on “My Account”, then click on “Sign Up” to create your new account.

My Account

Craigslist My Account

After that, you just need to confirm your email address and you can begin posting ads and using the other Craigslist features.

Craigslist Van and RV Search Tip #2 – Setup Alerts

Now that you have an account set up, you can make your life so much easier by setting up Craigslist Alerts. Instead of going to Craigslist everyday and looking for that van or RV, you can let Craigslist do all the work for you.

To set up an alert, log into your Craigslist account and go about doing a normal search. For example, lets say we are looking for a Cargo Van. Put “Cargo Van” into the search box, then go through the filters on the left side of the screen to narrow down the search to what you are looking for.

Craigslist Search Filters

Setting up Alerts

After setting up all your search criteria, click on “email alert” to save this search to your Craigslist account. See below:

Craigslist Email Alerts

Click “Email Alert” to save search

You will now have this alert added with any other alerts you may have saved. From this point forward, you will receive emails from Craigslist when something is listed on Craigslist that matches your search criteria. See below where we added “Cargo Van” to the list:

Craigslist Alerts

List of Set up Craigslist Alerts

Now that you have the alerts set up, you can kick back and relax while Craigslist does the work. When Craigslist sees a new listing that matches your search criteria, you will get an email similar to the one below:

Emailed Alert

Craigslist Email Alert Example

Craigslist Van and RV Search Tip #3 – Pre-Screen Craigslist Sellers

Before you waste your time calling on a bunch of ads on Craigslist for Vans and RVs, take a few seconds to pre-screen the seller using their phone number. It’s amazing what you can find out by just searching for a phone number on Google.
What to look for:

  • Do they have multiple listings with that number?
  • Are they listing Craigslist Ads as a Dealer or Owner
  • Look for negative results associated with their number
  • Look for info that you can use as a test – See if they lie

The phone number check is a very interesting/sneaky way to get some info on the seller. You never know what might turn up.

Example: I did a random search and found a van. The details looked almost too good to be true, so I investigated a bit. When I searched the persons number, I found out that he owned a mobile mechanic business. I checked into the business and found that the owner of the car had a very poor reputation.

Seller with Poor Reputation

His business rating was a 2 out of 5 stars.

After looking at the reviews for his business, I see that a few customers considered him to be rude and disrespectful. If I was to call this person, I would be alerted to his possible attitude and would really question his honesty with every question I asked him.

Craigslist Van and RV Search Tip #4 – Prepare a List of Questions

Personally, I lose my train of thought easily, so I like to have a list of prepared questions ready when calling about a van or RV. This way, if I get wrapped up in conversation, I can simply go on to the next item without having to recall where I was.

Here is an example of the questions I asked Craigslist sellers while I was looking for my van:

  1. How many owners?
  2. Name on title?
  3. Clear Title?
  4. Mileage?
  5. Why Selling?
  6. How was vehicle acquired? Auction, trade-in?
  7. Vehicle Condition? Paint, body, engine, interior?
  8. Dents or Rust?
  9. Any Leaks?
  10. Is Transition Shift smooth?
  11. Which oil has been used?
  12. Any accidents?
  13. Service Records available?
  14. Tire tread %
  15. Brake pad % – squeaks?
  16. What service has been recently done – records?
  17. Cruise Control?
  18. Previous Smoker?

Well, I hope these tips help you in your search for your future Van or RV.

If you liked this article and are interested in learning more, please check out my Facebook Page:
Traveling Troy on Facebook

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6 Responses to Craigslist Van and RV Buying Tips

  1. Kent M March 20, 2015 at 6:06 AM #

    Thanks for the tips. I personally like where you Google their number. Funny stuff. I’ve always been cautious of using craigslist.

    • Troy Wiedeman March 20, 2015 at 10:01 AM #

      Hi Kent. Long time no see. Thanks for checking out the post and the video. Yes, Craigslist can be intimidating, but I had all positive experiences thus far.

  2. Sierra Night Tide February 2, 2016 at 11:18 AM #

    I didn’t think of looking up the phone number. Great tip! I find that most people will not return calls or an email if they know I’m female or if I ask for the VIN.

    • Troy Wiedeman February 3, 2016 at 8:17 AM #

      I agree. Asking for the VIN # does weed out some shady sellers. 🙂 Thanks for visiting the blog.

  3. Tom S July 6, 2016 at 11:02 PM #

    Thanks for the great info. In California we can check the smog history by entering the license number or VIN on the DMV sight which is a concern here. Never thought about the phone number, pretty smart.

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