Caravans can be expensive to buy, and it can be catastrophic if your purchase turns out not to meet your needs or dies unexpectedly.It’s imperative to know what to check when buying a caravan so we put together this checklist to guide you through the process to make sure you buy the right caravan.
Before you begin
Before you go and inspector look for a caravan online take stock of your situation and the expectations you have of your new caravan. Ask these questions first of yourself to determine whether the caravan you’re considering will meet your needs.
|• Is your tow vehicle powerful enough?||• What facilities do you require, e.g. shower/toilet?|
|• What is your budget?||• Do you want an awning?|
|• What will your caravan be used for?||• Inside or outside cooking?|
|• How many people should it be able to carry?||• How much storage do you need?|
|• Will you be travelling on the road or off-road?|
Consider taking a few items to your caravan inspection so you can properly see and record the right details for later reference including a notepad, camera, measuring tape, and torch.
Questions to ask the dealer/owner
Ask the owner/dealer questions about the previous owner, condition, treatment, and storage, especially if you have concerns about the caravan. Their knowledge (if forthcoming) should help you gain a fair understanding of the actual condition of the caravan.
|• What is the van’s age?||• Does it have a current weighbridge, gas, and electrical certificate?|
|• Where has it been in the past?||• No issues for transferring it to your name?|
|• Is it stored undercover or outside?||• Are spare parts for that model still available?|
|• How much has the caravan has been used recently, over what kind of distances?|
• Are instruction manuals available?
A used caravan will have some wear which is to be expected, however, anything that compromises your safety should be non-negotiable. Keep a look out for and the following things while doing a walk-through inspection:
|• Rust||• The main door locks properly|
|• Dents, scratches, or other marks||• Compare VIN plate with documentation provided|
|• Condition of the tyres and if there is a spare||• Condition of the underfloor water tanks, wiring, piping|
|• Paint jobs disguising bigger issues||• Condition of all wiring present|
|• Cracks in the chassis||• Condition of the battery, charger|
|• Condition of the axle||• Signs of ants or other insects|
|• Condition of the gas and electrical components||• Condition of the gaiter around the damper|
|• Signs of dampness||• Presence of a breakaway cable|
|• Fitted smoke detector and fire extinguisher||• Check the lights, indicators, and electrical socket pins|
|• Working condition of appliances such as the stove, microwave, and fridge||• Check the floor, carpet, and upholstery for stains, tears, and wear|
|• Condition of the drawers and cupboards||• Ask seller to demonstrate any further functional fitted extras, e.g. any alarm systems|
|• Water sources (especially hot) operate properly|
If you let the owner/dealer know ahead of time you should be able to go for a test drive with your own tow vehicle. Prepare the caravan for a test tow using the vehicle you will most often use to tow.Your pre-tow checks and test drive need to include the following to make sure they function properly:
|• All the lights and electrical circuits||• The jockey wheel|
|• The caravan level when it is hitched up||• The awning|
|• The van’s handbrake||• Windows and doors|
|• The tow hitch||• All buttons on the main control panel|
If you’re not unsure about caravan driving or the lifestyle, rent one for a few weeks before committing financially, towing a caravan calls for a more cautious approach to driving.
Whether you decide to buy a new or used caravan, make sure it fits your needs. New caravans offer many benefits like modern safety features and comforts and give you the choice to fulfill your needs.
If you are looking for a used caravan, always buy from a licenced caravan dealer as they do exhaustive checks to ensure that the units they are selling are in fact not stolen and are in good condition.Contact us today for more information on how to buy the right caravan for you.