Buying

Buying a touring caravan or a motorhome is a major expense so it is important to get it right. With a wealth of different models to choose from and plentiful information on finance and insurance, your needs should be easily catered for and you will be in the caravan or motorhome of your choice sooner than you think.

 

When you are thinking of buying a new caravan, a good place to start your search is a caravan Show, where you can see the different vehicles on offer from a wide range of manufacturers.

All new vehicles approved under the NCC Certification scheme are safe and legal for use on UK roads.  The NCC certification scheme is the only one in Europe which verifies complete product compliance with the comprehensive health and safety standards set by the British Standards Institution (BSI) and European Standards body CEN.

If the vehicle is NCC approved, it will have an NCC badge near the main entrance door.

To achieve approval, the model will have undergone over 600 checks covering all aspects, including:

  • Gas and electrical installations
  • Tyres, road lights, reflectors
  • Weights and dimensions
  • Fridge, heater and water systems
  • Ventilation and emergency exits

 

Buying a pre-owned caravan

There is a very healthy market for pre-owned caravans. As with buying second-hand cars, you can get excellent value if you look around but buying second-hand can be more risky than buying new. 

Unlike cars, caravans do not get registered by the DVLA, so checking validity of the seller is different. The Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS) can confirm the identity of the current keeper. This can be accessed via the CRiS desk at HPI on 01722 411430 - a small charge is levied.  The NCC website also has information on caravan models approved to the European Standard.

Many of the safeguards that would apply when buying a second hand car also apply to buying a used caravan.  If it the price seems to good to be true ... it probably is!  Be very reticent about buying a caravan if it is located in a lay-by, pub car park or motorway service station. These are prime locations for thieves to sell stolen property, so make sure the seller can provide proof of identity and a valid home address.  Photographs of the seller and caravan in use on holiday tends to indicate they are the bona fide owner.

In addition check the windows for its identification number and make sure they have not been altered or removed. If you have doubts contact your local crime prevention officer.

Top tips for buying a pre-owned caravan:

Research the marketplace

Compare prices between private advertisements and your local dealer. Obviously, if a dealer is offering a warranty and the caravan has been checked and/or recently serviced, these are valuable additions.

Match your caravan and car

Matching cars and caravans can be confusing. Often private advertisements contain scant information about a caravan's size and weight. Don't waste time looking at caravans that are not a legal match for your car - the penalty for driving a mismatched outfit could be a fine, points on your licence and invalid insurance or result in a serious road traffic collision.

Keep a sharp eye and an open mind

Condition is king. An older caravan that has been little used and well looked after may be better value than a newer one that has been out and about every weekend of its life. Always check carefully for signs of damp or water ingress.

Don't deal in the dark

If you don't buy from a dealer, make sure you view the caravan in good daylight and don't go alone. Meet at the seller's house and NEVER agree to meet at a pub, service station or lay-by.

Request all documentation

All post-1992 caravans manufactured by NCC members are part of the Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS) and have a unique 17 digit 'VIN' number.  When a caravan is sold, the new owner's details are sent to CRiS. Always ask to see the caravan's service history and CRiS registration document. See the CRiS website or telephone 01722 411430.

Check the locks

Check that the vendor has all the keys to doors and lockers.  Inspect all door and window locks for signs of force or replacement - this may mean the caravan has been stolen. Look carefully at the CRiS window markings for signs of alteration or removal.

Confirm the seller's details

Make sure the owner is who he says he is. Contact CRiS with a description of the make and model of the caravan and the owner's details to be checked against the CRiS database.

Investigate whether the caravan is on finance

Ask if there is outstanding finance and verify by checking through CRiS. If the caravan has not been 'paid off', it could still be the property of the finance house that could reclaim it.

Don't buy a write-off

Has it been in an accident or flood damaged? Check panels closely for signs of repair and check the caravan's history with CRiS to ensure that an insurance company has not previously recorded it as a write-off. Write-offs that are rebuilt may not be safe to return to the road.