Buying a "New to you" caravan - What to look out for

Every year you go away in a tent or in a van you're not happy with. You get to your destination happy to be on holidays. Then you remember how much you dislike your setup and promise yourself you're going to upgrade next year. You start looking around for a replacement and there it is....

A beautiful near new caravan with just the right layout for you. It's got the right colours to suit your taste, an ensuite, solar and even a full annex. The seller is asking less than you're prepared to pay for the van so it seems like a match made in heaven. You make an offer and the seller accepts. Woohoo! Next year's holidays are looking amazing. So what next?

There are a few quite significant tell tales and some precautions you can take when buying a used caravan and these are our top tips for making sure you don't get caught wasting your hard earned money only to be stuck with something less than you thought you were buying.

1. Make sure you get up on a ladder or some steps and have a really close look at the roof. Look for damage from trees or alike and definately look at the silicone sealant around hatches and corner moulds. If the silicone looks different from one side to the other or inconsistent, then you can be pretty sure the van has had some major repair work at some point.

2. Open ALL of the cupboards, especially the corner cupboards in the front and rear and look for any signs of water staining. If there is anything there it's a definate problem. What you see inside the van is only the tip of the iceburg and to repair that type of damage correctly requires disassembly of the caravan, frame repairs, relining the ply and then reassembly. Often this can be in the thousands of dollars to take care of. It might be old damage from a now repaired water leak, but do you take the sellers word for it or not? What you can't see is this. 

3. Run test all the appliances, especially the gas. Make sure all burners work fully. Some stoves, ovens and grills are getting harder to get replacement parts for. Even a faulty thermocouple can become a $500 repair. So make sure you know they all work.

4. Walk accross the entire floor and make sure it's not soft or sagging. There are plenty of cheaper vans with thin ply flooring and some older vans even used partical board that easily deteriorates. Some caravan chassis don't even have bracing where the ply sheets join and these can separate leaving costly chassis rework to support the floor properly.

5. Check the suspension for signs of wear. Heavy amounts of rust around moving parts and a lack of grease could be the signs of a poorly maintained van. Especially with roller rocker type suspension, wear and tare on rockers, spring shackles and pins could easily set you back over $1500 before you even hit the road.

6. Ask for the last service report. If they can't show you one, then it's most likely not been attended to by a proffessional, if at all. You need to factor that into your purchase criteria as even a general service on a tandem caravan with new wheel bearings needed could be $600-$700.

7. Make sure you check the van is not on a DNR (Do Not Register) list before you pay for the van. If it is, just steer clear. There are websites for each state where you can input the VIN number, chassis number and/or registration number to check. Example Vic Roads website for Victoria.

8. Make sure the van has clear title. Don't just take the sellers word for it. You will need to pay a small fee for a PPSR (Personal Property Security Register) report. But the last thing you want is for some finance company to come and take your new van away from you because the seller didn't pay them out.

If the seller is genuine and you really love the van, they will understand you being cautious. 

We hope you find the next van of your dreams soon and get to enjoy it trouble free.

Should you need any advice, please feel free to call our service department on 1300 068 700 in Rosebud, Victoria and we can arrange a pre purchase inspection and/or assist with any repairs you may need or see our service menu here