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What to look for when buying a used caravan

What to look for when buying a used caravan feature image
| In Tips & Tricks

Buying a caravan can be the most exciting experience particularly when you imagine travelling the great open road with such a wonderful sense of freedom. The distant horizon is your next destination coupled with that amazingly exciting feeling of exploration. While going for a new caravan is great and gives you many new vehicle benefits, considering a used caravan with the right checks can still help you get out on the road for a lower cost and with as much enjoyment.

In some cases, a used caravan that meets your needs may not be in-stock, so going used will mean you won’t have to delay any road trip. With this in mind, we want to arm you with some essential tips and ideas of what to look for in a used caravan, so you can buy the perfect used caravan for sale

A Case of Buyer Beware but all is not bad

One key thing to be aware of but not to stress about is that there are re-birthed caravans coming onto the market as a result of the flooding that has affected NSW and Qld in recent times. It is a case of buyer beware but for detailed information have a look at Caravanning Qld’s site regarding registration and compliance issues. These rebirthed vans can have had some level of inundation or damage as a result of being affected by the floods and though in many cases they have been renovated there lingers that thought of long-term effects on the internals of the van. Our recommendation is always to buy from a quality caravan dealership as they will have done the quality checks needed to help you avoid this issue of rebirthed caravans. 

Questions to ask yourself to ensure you get the perfect used caravan

Before heading out to find your dream caravan ask yourselves some pertinent questions though like:

  • Where do we want to go in our caravan?
  • Do we want to go off-road and maybe do national parks or stay on major roads?
  • How many of us are there to sleep in our van?
  • What do we intend to tow the van with?
  • How long a trip do we intend to take?
  • What length of caravan are we comfortable towing?
  • Can we hire a van to get an idea of what type we want or what is the type that best suits us?
  • What is our budget?

Preparation is key: the essentials you need for a caravan inspection

What is worthwhile taking with us to inspect used caravans? Good question, so arm yourselves with some basic equipment for your caravan-seeking mission. This might include:

  • Tape measure
  • Camera/mobile phone and torch
  • Pad and pen
  • Sat/nav - makes getting to your caravan location easy-as :), especially if you have a few to see. 
  • Lots of patience and plenty of time

Documentation necessities

Key documentation to have ready, once you have found a used caravan, that meets your caravanning needs.

  • Registration certificate
  • Vehicle Identification Number and date of manufacture
  • Personal Properties Security Register check
  • Gas certification
  • Electrical certificate (240 volt)
  • Caravan service and ownership history if available
  • Check out the age of the van and is its condition consistent with the age of the caravan
  • Check out where the caravan is usually stored
  • Check out what type of travel the van has been used for previously

What to look for externally on your potential caravan

So having found your potential used caravan purchase it’s time to do a thorough inspection externally first.

Things to check out for your external Caravan inspection: 

  • Condition of or signs of rust or damage on the “A” frame / chassis /axles/ brakes and bearings, undercarriage/ water tanks
  • Underneath wiring and piping/ frayed wires or damaged pipes
  • Any damage/ dents/ scratches/ obvious repairs/ scars
  • All seals around the outside of the van and particularly the roof, windows and hatches
  • Tyres condition including spares, handbrake and jockey wheel
  • Battery, solar panels, sway controller, battery charger
  • Awning condition, windows, door seals, door and window locks
  • All external 12 and 240-volt power and gas connections/ barbeque or other external features 
  • Lights and indicators

Caravan Internal checkpoints

Once you have done your external inspection it’s time to have a detailed look inside the van. This might include one of the most important details, being signs of water damage. Look for… 

  • Not a concern if your buy from a quality, authorised dealer but if you're braving the private market look for any stains or signs of dampness in all corners of the van and in the cupboards as well as down to the floor corners and around hatches, aerials, air conditioners, vents, windows/doors etc.
  • Bulges in the walls, uneven or warped flooring, any insect infestation
  • Condition and existence of smoke/ fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire blanket
  • Check out all appliances operation on both 12 volt/ 240 volt/ gas where applicable
  • Air conditioner operation/ tv, radio operation
  • Do all cupboards and drawers open and close/lock fully
  • Insect screens and blinds/windows operation
  • All water points/ taps/ shower/ toilet/ sinks and 12-volt pump operation
  • All lights functioning
  • Bed/mattress condition  

You can see our full guide to buying used caravans here.

In Conclusion 

So there you have it. A comprehensive checklist of items to check when choosing a used caravan for sale to purchase for your exciting road adventure into the great Australian outdoors. One of the most important things to take away is if you're not going to go through a quality dealership, then be extra stringent on your checks as you won’t be getting any warranty or support if you go the private route. Overall though the caravaning community are super friendly and helpful, so ask heaps of questions. Also, you will find that authorised caravan dealerships staff often love to travel with a Caravan, so they will be able to give you first-hand knowledge to make your purchase stress free and easy. The final key is to take action on your road travel goals and find your perfect caravan, so you can start your exciting trip to see our wonderful country. It’s not only the destination but just as much the journey that is part of enjoying the caravanning experience. Safe Travels!

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The Ultimate caravaning checklist

Top 10 Q&A's and buyer tips, to help ensure your caravaning experience is an ultimate success.