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Features Index > Caravanning Help and Advice > Buying Secondhand

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Buying Secondhand

Finding the right caravan can be a headache , this guide should help to make your decision easier , and ensure you end up with a van which will last you for years to come!

1. Make sure you look at plenty of different vans and take a notebook to note down things about each one you are interested in.

2. Take a torch for checking out some of the darker recesses and underneath.

3. If the caravan you are looking at is closed and the windows shut, have a sniff when you open the door, if you smell mustiness it might be damp, not always caused by water ingress but also caused by condensation. If there is air freshener in the van what is it hiding?

4. Look for signs of external damage, fresh paint jobs can hide a multitude of sins, and possible future damp areas. Damp is like cancer in a van so check out the back corners of roof lockers and under the bed areas both front and back discoloured wood and wall coverings.

5. Check the chassis dirt suggests a careless owner corrosion on the chassis is almost impossible to get rid of and check especially were the A-frame connects to the chassis for damage, if all looks OK it probably will be, Galvanised Chassis are best as they require minimum maintenance.

6. Inspect the Tow hitch does the handle lift easily, is the breakaway cable intact Does the handbrake hold the van when fully engaged. Check the electrical pins in the lighting and connection sockets, rusty ones can cause poor contacts and may even require replacement. Pull on the D-handles if they are loose this could be a sign of damp.

7. Check the Tyres for even wear and good tread depth across the tyre, Perished or cracked tyres are a sign of a bad owner, is there a spare tyre and jack, very expensive to buy.

8. Check the water pipes in the cupboards under sink, shower etc, for signs of leakage, is the fridge clean and free from rust, are the hob burners rusty

9. check that there is a service history for the van and that all internal electrics and gas systems have been serviced and checked.

10. Check out the Layout, if you have kids would you be able to put them to bed and still have sufficient room to move!

11. Special editions are almost the same price as standard vans and quite often have more comfort features built in.

12. What extras are in the van, step, waste and fresh water tanks, toilet, spare battery, spare wheel and jack, stabiliser (I use a Bulldog) leg brace, mains cable, gas bottles, Fire extinguisher and smoke alarm, hitch lock, wheel clamp, awning, you probably wont get many of these items but if you can its a bonus as they add up to a fair amount of money.

13. Don't be afraid to try putting up beds, checking out wardrobes, battery and gas lockers, look and check everything, you don't want to have to fix problems before you get away.

14. If you have any doubts about the van you are looking at walk away, there are plenty to choose from.

15. Most importantly Can your car tow the van comfortably, 85% of the cars weight is recommended.

16. Don't forget to haggle about the price and try to get extras thrown in. They want to sell all of the vans so you are one up already.

Top Tip:
Three highly recommended books , which could probably pay for themselves :
The Caravan Manual  , Caravan Step-by-step Owners Manual , and The Caravan Handbook: Owning, Enjoying, Improving .

Highly recommended books for all caravan owners - find them here

Index : Caravanning Help and Advice : Buying Secondhand - by Graham Thompson

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