Why Buy Second-Hand?
As well as being cheaper, second hand caravans often retain their value longer than their newer counterparts, making minor damage less problematic.
Equally, when buying new, delays can sometimes occur with delivery. You’ll also find lots more choice among used models.
But even a second-hand caravan is still a major investment, so take time to get it right, and know exactly what you want before taking the plunge.
Consider how much you have to spend, and how straightforward the model will be to service and buy spare parts for. If you want to sell it on eventually, how easy will that be? A model which seems a great bargain initially may end up costing you more in the long-run.
You also need to take into account:
Size - Your ‘van should be the right size for your purposes, and for the number of people who will be using it. But you also need to feel comfortable towing and manoeuvring it – and have space at home for it when you’re not on the road. Make sure your car can cope, too!
Features – A hot water system, including a shower, and a fridge, toilet, heater and mains electricity should come as standard with any caravan. Ask for a lower price if any of these is missing. Go for user-friendly design features and a model with surfaces which are simple to clean, and a layout which is right for what you need.
Is It Watertight? - If water gets into the structure, the damage to the walls, floor and roof can be substantial. Unfortunately, water penetration may not be immediately apparent. The windows and roof light account for more than half of water penetration in caravans.
You can buy a damp detector from most DIY shops, and this will help highlight any problems.
When viewing, check the interior thoroughly, including inside cupboards, pipes, under cushions and beneath the sink, looking for signs of damp. Obvious attempts at re-covering the walls are another giveaway, as is a musty smell.
Checklist of Things to Look Out For
- Shine a torch under the chassis and inspect for corrosion
- Open all the cupboards and lockers and check hinges and locks
- Investigate thoroughly inside, and pull out beds and tables
- Check for rust everywhere inside, especially the fridge and sink
- Inspect wheels and tires for wear
- Be sure the waste and water systems work properly
- The corner steadies should be easily operable
- The caravan should be registered with the Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS)
- Ask to see all paperwork, including service history
- Examine the awning rail for separation from the wall of the caravan
- Make sure that the model is level
- The handbrake must work properly
- The tow hitch should not stick when it is moved
- All keys need to be available and correct
Finally, don’t just go for the first model you see, or buy too hastily. See if you can take the model on a trial run, and haggle as much as you can!