Buying a caravan is a tough decision with enough models and options to make your head spin. As experienced caravan repairers we have had the opportunity to work on just about every make of caravan so whether you are buying a new van or second hand, our guide to buying a caravan might help you with your decision.
The first thing to check is the weight of the van.
Upgraded model variations and added accessories can significantly increase the weight of the van. This can put you over your towing capacities which can be ball weight, towing capacity, GVM and GCM. The last thing you want to do is purchase a caravan that your tow vehicle is unable to tow. We recently had a customer with a Landcruiser that was overheating while towing because the caravan was just too heavy. If you are buying a new caravan then it is worth getting confirmation of the final weight of the caravan with all the accessories added before you finalise your order. Should you really be buying a van that you don’t know what the weight is if you’re close to your vehicle’s tow limits?
When buying a new caravan, one of the big considerations should be the warranty.
The warranty at its most basic covers the structure of the caravan and that it shouldn’t leak. The appliances like the fridge, air-con, hot water system etc will all be covered by their manufacturer’s warranties. When it comes to warranties there is some peace of mind that a well established caravan manufacturer will be around to cover the warranty of the van. Newer, smaller caravan manufacturers might not last the duration of the warranty period (as we have seen recently) and the dealer that sold the caravan may not be willing to honour a warranty when the manufacturer is no longer around.
When buying a second hand caravan there are a number of considerations to avoid buying a pile of problems that can be expensive to fix.
Every second hand caravan that is advertised for sale should have a Safety Certificate and Gas Certificate before it is advertised. A Safety Certificate and Gas Certificate is a check that the caravan is roadworthy and safe. The other things that you would want to check are:
- The date of the last caravan service. It is a good idea to budget on a caravan service before your first trip away so that you have peace of mind that everything is maintained and in working order.
- The appliances are all working. When you make a time to inspect the van, request that the fridge be working. Some fridges need more than 8 hours to cool properly so this is hard to test if the fridge is not on when you arrive. Check that the hot water system is working and ask when the anode was last replaced. A completely worn anode can mean a broken hot water system.
- Look for leaks particularly on the top corners of the caravan, inside the cupboards and around the air conditioner and hatches. Mouldy smells, obvious mould and warped timber are signs of leaks that may be costly to repair.
- Climb up on a ladder and inspect the roof for broken sealant, patch-ups, damage, broken fittings.
- Check that awning rolls out and the vinyl is in good condition. Cracked vinyl will need replacing.
- Look underneath the van for loose wires or pipes and rust. The amount of stone damage is an indication of the sort of roads the van has been on.
- The age of the batteries. It is best to budget for new batteries.
- Importantly: Carry out a Personal Property Securities Register search (formerly called a REVs check) to ensure that the caravan is free from debt, registered and has never been written off. Caravans can be written off as a statutory write off (that can never be re-registered in Australia) or a repairable write off (which can be repaired and re-registered).
- It is not necessary, but if the caravan has a toilet, you may want to budget for a new cassette for the toilet.
Our experienced team at the RV Service Centre can assist with caravan servicing and repairs, warranty work and fitting accessories for your caravan. We hope that our guide to buying a caravan will help in your decision and see you enjoying your travels.