Advice on Buying a Caravan
Caravans - Things to look out for when buying a caravan or a Motorhome
Buying a Touring Caravan or a Motorhome is a major expense so it is important to get it right. Don't rush into it by buying the first one that you see. Take time to decide what you are going to use it for, e.g. major holidays, week-ends away, travelling abroad. You don't want to go on your first trip and then think "Oh I wish we had bought one with .....".
Do you know what you are looking for? If so, you would probably be happy buying a second-hand caravan. If not, you may be better purchasing either a new caravan and one with a dealers warranty. If something goes wrong at least you have someone to call to get help.
If you have never tried holidaying in a caravan why not try touring caravan hire for one or two weeks to see what it is like. You will probably love the experience, however, you might hate it - so it is best to find out first before making a costly mistake. It will also give you an idea about the size you need. Don't forget you will need space for you, the children, any pets you plan to take with you and also your luggage for the holiday.
Buying a New Caravan or Motorhome
When you are thinking of buying a new caravan, a good place to start your search is a caravan for information about all the different types is a Caravan Show. There are four main Caravan Shows which take place in the UK at the NEC, Earls Court, Manchester and in scotland. Details about these Caravan shows can be found on our Caravan Shows page. A Caravan sale is another place to have a look around, details of which can be found in local newspapers or magazines such as the Practical Caravan . The choice may be very comprehensive, so it is a good idea to have in mind exactly the kind of caravan that you are looking for. At the end of the holiday season a caravan sale may provide you with the opportunity of finding the right caravan at a lower price than you might have had to pay. It is important to remember what exactly you need from your new caravan, so it may be a good idea to take a list of your requirements with you.
Make sure you ask about the built-in security when you buy a new caravan.
Buying a Used or Second Hand Caravan
When buying a second hand caravan it is important that you check various aspects of the vehicle which are listed below.
- As with all vehicles that sit outside for a good portion of their lives, caravans often suffer from rust. This can be a major and expensive problem to sort out. The main areas are under the caravan and near the chassis.
- Check the tow hitch - ensure it does not stick when it is moved. Also check the handbrake works adequately.
- Check for damp in the caravan. Look around the windows for any signs. Check the pipes for any signs of leaking.
- Check the internal equipment - lighting, heating, furniture, cooker etc.
- Check that all the caravan keys are available and correct
- Check the awning is in good condition if it has one.
- Check that the caravan chassis number has not been removed or altered.
- Check if it's registered with the Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS) , if it is you can check its history through this scheme. You can then ask the seller to fill in the Notification of Sale section on the back of the Touring Caravan Registration Document and send it to CRiS. The seller should then give you the rest of the Touring Caravan Registration Document and you must fill in the Notification of Changes section and send it to CRiS with the appropriate registration fee.
- Check to see that the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) etched on the windows match the CRis details.
- Check that the number plate is the same on the caravan and the tow car.
Be wary if temporary or handwritten number plates are being used.
- Check to see if any security devices that may have been fitted to the caravan by the seller.
- Check to see if it has been electronically tagged. You may also want to check with both major caravanning clubs to reassure yourself that the caravan has not been previously stolen if you have any doubts about the seller.
Never buy caravans in pub car parks or motorway service stations. If you are meeting the seller at a house, always check that it is their home as thieves have been known to use the driveway of an empty house to sell stolen caravans.
It is well worth joining one of the major caravan clubs in the UK. They often have member only selected caravan sites for you to use, and can often provide a discount on the cost of the other sites for club members. The two main caravan clubs are The Caravan Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club.
The Caravan Club has an Approval scheme for touring caravans and as a result buying an NCC Approved Touring Caravan is the way to ensure that it's safe and legal to use. The reason why this was set up was to ensure that a caravan complies with UK legislation and safety regulations especially when you consider that a touring caravan is a complex combination of leisure vehicle, accommodation compartment, several different kinds of appliances (cooker, heater etc) and gas, electricity and water systems.
Caravans approved by the NCC have been checked to ensure that they comply and conform to UK legislation which governs its safe use. In addition,Caravans approved by the NCC have been checked against British Standard European Norm 1645 which is the standard used for European and British minimum health and safety Standards.
A caravan which carries the NCC "Approved Caravan" badge will have met the above standards and generally be worth buying.
The NCC Certification Scheme was set up in 1964. A caravan that complies to the rigorous inspection process gets the "Approved" badge and the user gets an NCC Certificate.