Used caravans are one of the best ways to travel on a budget. Before you buy your van however, it’s important to make the right checks to ensure you’re getting what you paid for.
Doing your research can help you find a reliable used caravan that’s the right fit for your needs. Here are five of the best tips for buying a used caravan.
Check the Caravan’s History
The paperwork of your potential caravan is the first place to start and can give you a valuable insight into the van’s details and history. The age of the caravan, conditions it’s been under while travelling and how it’s been stored can all affect its current and future condition.
Your seller should have already listed any defects or potential problems. However, it’s always best to check for common issues yourself, as the owner may not have been aware of certain problems. Smaller issues such as water leaks, for example, can still contribute to larger and more expensive problems.
Your safety on the road should be a priority when assessing a used caravan. Brakes, tires and seatbelts are just some of the areas which need to be up to code to avoid your new van being assessed as unroadworthy and becoming illegal to tow.
Structural issues such as rust, water ingress and impact damage can all affect a van’s roadworthiness and increase its likelihood of failing an inspection.
When assessing used caravans for safety and roadworthiness, areas to check outside the van can include:
- Windows and doors
- Tow hitch
- Jockey wheel
- Awning function
Scratches and scuffs can usually be expected with used caravans, however anything that compromises your safety or can lead to expensive repairs (such as dampness) should be addressed before you purchase.
The tare weight of a caravan is its factory listed weight, including empty gas bottles and other containers, but not including people, food or other items. ATM weight is the total weight of the van when fully loaded, including passengers.
Before buying your caravan, you should check your vehicle’s rated towing capacity to ensure it will be able to tow your van’s ATM weight. Legal requirements for safety can limit the maximum weight that your vehicle can tow.
Utility connections for water, electricity and gas can become hazards if they are damaged or fitted incorrectly. Checking that your van’s utilities operate correctly can help to protect your safety and detect issues before they become dangerous.
Fixtures such as showers and sinks, lights, stoves and appliances should all be checked and operated to see if they have any faults. As many of these features are wired together to the same battery, it’s important to check their connections and ensure that the battery is in good condition.
Checking the layout of your van’s internal space can help you to decide whether it’s suitable for your purposes. Spaciousness and style are both important factors which can impact your comfort while in the van.
Safety features like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers should be checked to ensure they’re operational, as well as doors, windows and locks. Cupboards and drawers should also be tested to ensure working order.
Arrange an Inspection
It’s often worth arranging a professional inspection before buying a used van. Caravan experts can help with a pre-purchase assessment and identify any potential issues, saving you money and giving you peace of mind.
When preparing to check the van, make sure to take along a torch, camera and notebook. These tools can help you to see in tough to reach places and record any concerns to follow up later. A damp meter can also be a useful tool to measure moisture in the walls and other areas inside the caravan.
With the right expectations and a thorough check, your used caravan can be the perfect fit for your travels.