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Top tips for buying a used caravan

13th November 2015

Thinking of buying a used caravan? We’re addicts to that new motor home smell at North Western Caravans, but understand that brand new buys can come at a cost. In our eyes, the excitement of getting a pre-loved model can be just as great as a spanking 2015 reg – providing you buy from someone you can trust and do some checks beforehand. Here’s our top tips for getting the best of a second hand caravan:

Check the paperwork

First things first, is the paperwork all up to date? It’s a simple tip, but probably one of the most important. Generally speaking, anyone who has bothered to keep their papers tip-top will normally have also looked after the caravan itself. Ask for the service history, the handbook and CRIS registration details (if the model was made after 1992) as well as anything else you might need.

What’s more, proper paperwork is also a good protector against stolen goods and any modifications which may have been performed unprofessionally. A CRIS registered model, for example, will give a thorough backlog of information including outstanding finance, damage and insurance. What’s more, when buying always ask for a receipt with the seller’s address on – it will protect you in the long run! Legitimate dealerships will pride themselves on the level of detail they provide so don’t be afraid to ask!

Check for damp

One of the most frustrating things for any caravan owner is damp. As you don’t know the vehicle’s history, making sure every part of the structure is watertight is always a safe first step. Your nose is one of the best tools for this and if it smells muggy, it’s always best to ask the seller what the cause might be. Check the main door and windows are solid and not experiencing rust or cracks. Roof lights and sunroofs can be one of the worst offenders when it comes to letting water in, and putting a keen eye over any pipes or water outlets is a handy tip for reassurance.

Check everything works

It might seem obvious, but don’t be cautious when it comes to taking a good hard look at your new potential purchase. Check for signs of corrosion on the chassis, and make sure you examine the hitch and suspension. What’s the condition of the electric and gas systems? Again, a professional dealership should have done all this for you, but don’t be afraid to ask for verification. If you’re unhappy or in any doubt, get a professional to take a look. It’s not just future repairs you need to consider, but also your safety!

Check for signs of theft

It’s a sad matter, but caravan theft can occasionally occur. If a seller is offering a caravan at too cheap a price your warning bells should instantly ring (some things can be too good to be true, unfortunately). How open are they about the item? If it’s a private seller are they letting you view it at their residence? And if not, why? Plenty of legitimate sellers will keep their caravan elsewhere for storage, but if it doesn’t add up – ask yourself why? See if you can sign the paperwork at their house at the very least to verify the address you’ve got on your receipt is legitimate.

A clever tip is to keep your eye out for signs of damage around the hitch or on the wheel rim which can be a sign of tampering with a security device. Any caravan built after 1992 should have full CRiS identification – if it doesn’t you need to ask the seller why.

Only buy from those you trust

Something seem too good to be true or a little bit shady? It probably is. There’s unfortunately a wealth of untruthful sellers out there which is why our advice is always to buy from somewhere with a stellar reputation.

At North Western Caravans, we’re proud to offer a full 12 month parts and labour warranty meaning we only sell you the motor home that meets our stringent requirements. Our family business is over 120 years old and we strive to cater for everyone – no matter what your budget is.

Talk to our friendly team for more honest advice on buying a caravan or motorhome that suits your needs and brings you years of happy trips!