Buying a caravan
Firstly have a look at our ‘TYPES OF MOTORHOME’ (which covers the trailer caravan) we hope this will help you decide on what type caravan you are looking for. Opinions abound on what is the cheapest, biggest and best etc, but your decision should involve what type of holiday you are planning to have. If you have itchy feet and like to travel around a lot, then a motorhome is the best solution, and there is very little to do once you reach your desired park or site.
If you are fond of certain areas and plan your stay for a week or two, then a caravan could be the better option. After unhitching, you then have the car to explore the local and surrounding areas, which is cheaper than a motorhome. If you like a location and which to return, then a static is perhaps more suitable.
The caravan is mostly larger with a lot more luxuries, including more bedroom space and a larger washing and bathing area. Don’t forget though the larger the caravan, the larger you’re towing vehicle has to be, a rough guide should equate to the caravans kerb weight of 85% to the weight of the towing vehicle. A caravan’s width that is in excess of 2.3m may have to be towed by a commercial vehicle.
Don’t forget to do plenty of research with regards to insurance, age and design layout. We have already covered using a dealer (in the selling section) so what to look for when buying from a private seller:
When you have a selection of caravans to look, a good idea would be to take someone experienced with you. Always inspect a caravan in daylight hours and when it’s not raining. The main issues are:
Damp: Because this is a very expensive item to put right, it should viewed as a priority, and you find it is quite common on older caravans. Small signs may be spotted on the exterior around the sealing joins and window frames. When going inside the caravan you should be able to smell damp, and if you do, be on your guard. Start by checking inside all the cupboards, lockers, and inside any bedboxes. Test the joints, by firmly pressing them to see if there any movement. A break in any seal will eventually lead to internal damp problems and water ingress. A damp detector may not be a bad investment. When inside the caravan walk slowly around all the floor area ‘heavy footed’ if you can, if you sense any ‘sponging’ underfoot, make a polite getaway!
The Electrics and Gas: All connections and attached hoses should be in good condition. You could always get a qualified engineer/electrician to check them out for you.
Running Gear and Chassis: If the jockey wheel has been maintained regularly is will move up and down freely and rotates easily. The hitching mechanism should move freely and the rubber gaiter should not show any signs of splitting. Test the handbrake two or three times to make sure it doesn’t stick, and the grease nipples have not been ignored. Be aware of new paint or underseal on the chassis, it could be camouflaging something else. Not forgetting the hitch and the suspension.
Cheap Extra’s: The seller may not be replacing the caravan, and if so find out what else they will throw in such as leisure batteries and chargers, gas bottles, awning etc. For a little extra you could be saving yourself a lot of money.
Paperwork: Ask to see the handbook and any service history on the caravan. You will know by the amount available what type of owner the seller is. Also enquire as to what amount of use the van gets and if it stands for long periods of time.
The Caravans Age: For newer caravans a HPI check is available. For a caravan made from 1992, there will be VIN (vehicle identification number) and this will be registered on the CRiS (Caravan Registration Identification Scheme). You will find the number on the vans chassis; it begins with SG, and also etched in the windows on later models.
The HPI will highlight any outstanding finance, if its an insurance write-off or has been stolen.
Go to our Vehicle Check
Be Ready to Deal: Don’t forget if you need finance or loan, you could always take a look at our caravan finance to get a quote. Ideally agree beforehand with the seller on the method of payment, this keeps both parties happy.
Don’t forget the insurance, take a look at Caravan Insurance