Caravan basics: The exterior
Not only is there a lot to think about when you're searching for a caravan for sale, there's a lot to a caravan once you've found what you're looking for, too.
Below, you'll find everything you need to know about the exterior of a caravan. From top to bottom, making sure everything is in top condition will extend the life of your tourer and, therefore, your holiday happiness. But first, you have to identify what each bit of the caravan is there for...
Safe, strong and secure, this is the skeletal foundation of your caravan. A good caravan chassis is a bit of engineering brilliance. It’s the thing that separates your pride and joy from the harsh ride of the road, keeping everything sturdy and in place.
At the front, you’ll find the A-frame, and underneath are your tourer’s jacking points (or axle mounting plate). It’s important to only ever use these when raising a caravan, rather than affixing a jack anywhere else on the chassis.
The two main chassis manufacturers for caravans sold in the UK are AL-KO and BPW.
For neighbour nosing and view admiring. Of course, the two are sometimes not mutually exclusive! Some caravans have windows at the back, allowing a clear view through to the road behind when towing.
The location of the gas locker changes from caravan to caravan, but it’s where you’ll find your gas bottles and areas for other useful storage as well.
On many models, the rooflight has had a lot of attention recently and become a real selling point, elongated and allowing light to flood into the caravan.
Does what it says on the tin, and saves you fumbling for your keys in the dark once you get through the door of your caravan awning. Take a look at our guide to everything you need to know about awnings.
The corner steadies support the weight of your caravan once you’ve levelled it correctly on a pitch. They should not be used to entirely hold the weight of a tourer. Some caravans have automatic levelling systems – find out what happened when two teams took the manual VS auto levelling challenge.
Wheels and axles
Caravans come in two different wheel flavours – single or twin axle. Straightforward enough, a single axle has two wheels, a twin has four, and it's usually found on heavier tourers.
Caravans use an over-run braking system. Simply put, this means that, when the brakes are applied from your car, the force of the caravan compresses the drawbar, which, in turn, applies the brakes. The breakaway cable has a similar effect, but by pulling the brakes on directly.
It’s likely that you’ll never need to use these jack mounting points under your tourer. But, should the worst happen and you need to change a wheel, for example, they’re here to prevent damage to your chassis. For more information, read everything you need to know about your chassis.