Practical tips for what to look out for in a new caravan
There are certain checks you should always have in mind to perform when buying a caravan, particularly one that’s second hand.
Once you've done your research and read all the caravan reviews, check the van you've chosen carefully for dents, broken or missing trim and have a good look at the hitch for signs of excessive wear.
Look out for signs that the van has been re-sealed or repaired in some way – such as areas of poor paint-matching or evidence of filler or excess sealant.
Here are a few more points to consider...
Examine the tyres, including the spare, very carefully for cracks or pronounced scuffs to the sidewall and, if possible, jack up the axle and rotate the tyre to check for flat spots. If the tyres are more than five years old, or show signs of cracking or other damage, they’ll need replacing – that can be expensive on a twin-axle. Read more on tyre safety.
Repairs and warranties
Dealers will sort out many minor problems if you point them out before agreeing on a deal. For anything under three years old, the caravan manufacturer warranties may still be valid.
If buying privately, always ask to see a caravan at the vendor’s home and request as much documentation as possible, such as receipts and evidence of regular servicing.
Vehicle identification and CRiS
All caravans manufactured since 1992 by are recorded on what is known as the CRiS database by a unique 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This VIN and the caravan description are recorded on a Touring Caravan Registration Document (CVR6), which the caravan's registered keeper should retain.
Inside, your nose will give you a good indication of the van’s condition. If it smells damp or musty, check for further signs. Odd stains, discoloured areas, mould or soft wall-board – especially inside the roof locker areas – are the tell-tail traits of decay.
Appliances and services
Pay particular attention to the appliances and check that the gas and electrical equipment has been regularly serviced and works properly. The water system is just as important, so check that the pipework is clean and well-maintained and the pump works.
Windows and blinds
Check that all the window catches are working, including the rooflights, and make sure all the blinds are serviceable as the springs are often the first things to go.
Always lift the carpets and if the floor feels spongy underfoot it’s probably begun to delaminate. This can be very expensive to remedy.
Help is on hand
Caravan service technician, Nick Harrison, offers new buyers an hour-long pre-purchase inspection for £45 plus a distance surcharge depending on location. This covers checks for damp issues, wiring faults, appliances, body build problems and more. Well worth the money when you think of how much you could save if there is a problem.
For more info visit newarkcaravans.co.uk or call 01636 659947.
• Don’t just rely on the websites. Talk to as many caravanners as you can, too. A good place to start talking to people in person is park owners. They see hundreds of caravanners a year, so hear all the stories – good and bad.
• Remember, with a used caravan, you can always change the upholstery if it’s not to your taste. The main thing to think about is the layout.
• Always be clear on the manufacturer’s or dealership’s warranty before you sign on the dotted line. Read the small print and ask if anything doesn’t seem straightforward.
Read more caravan tips and ideas, here.