What to look for when buying a caravan
Buying a caravan is a big decision. New ones aren’t cheap and used ones can come with a heap of problems. If you’re planning to buy your first caravan or a used caravan, there’s a lot to consider. Here’s what to look for when buying a caravan.
New or used
Sure, a brand spanking new caravan is nice, and if you can afford it, go for it! If you can’t buy new, there are plenty of good used caravans around.
If you decide to buy a used caravan, shop for one at a reputable dealer. You’ll have peace of mind knowing the caravan has undergone a thorough inspection. If you buy a used caravan privately, check the following:
- Exterior – for signs of damage, rust and worn seals.
- Interior – for signs of damp and mould.
- Tyres – for worn tread and flat spots.
- Plumbing – for leaks or blockages.
- Gas-operated appliances and gas bottles – gas leaks are dangerous, so if you smell gas, be wary of buying that caravan
- Electrical wiring – hook the towbar to your vehicle to check if the lights and indicators work
- Number of passengers travelling with you. If you’re doing family trips, you need a family-sized caravan. You want to feel comfortable, not claustrophobic.
- Your car’s towing capacity. If you’re buying a large caravan, check that your car has the capacity to tow it. You may have to settle for a smaller caravan or buy a car that’s better suited for towing caravans. Don’t cut corners here. A car that doesn’t have enough power to tow a caravan can slow you down, use more fuel, increase wear-and-tear on your vehicle, and compromise safety.
Type of caravan
When you think of a caravan, you probably think of the conventional standard-sized caravan. There are, however, a few other types of caravans to consider.
- Tent trailers. Small, cute and best suited to single or two-person travellers.
- Camper trailers. Slightly bigger and sturdier than the tent trailer. Ideal for adventurers.
- Pop-top caravans. The roof pops up for extra head space.
- Pop-out caravans. They feature pop out compartments at the ends of the caravan for additional space to add beds.
- Fifth-wheelers. The behemoth of caravans. Large and spacious featuring slide-out compartments for extra living space. Perfect for families.
- A vehicle and caravan in one. No need to tow a separate caravan.
- Off-road caravans. If you plan to take a lot of off-road trips, you’ll need a rugged off-road caravan with better suspension and higher ground clearance to handle rougher terrain.
From basic to luxurious, there’a wide range of features on the caravan market. Decide what features are essential and what would be nice-to-have. Today’s caravans come with some high-end finishes, top-quality appliances, and the latest technology.
For example, newer caravans are making use of Australia’s sunny climate. Some are fitted with solar panels — a great way to power your rig when you’re covering long distances. It also means you can camp almost anywhere as you are less reliant on power outlets at campsites.
Your budget will ultimately determine what you finally buy, but there are ways to cut costs. Buying directly from a manufacturer cuts out the middleman and can save you hundreds or even thousands of of dollars on a caravan. Don’t rush into buying a caravan. Shop around for good deals and use a financial broker to find a caravan loan at the lowest interest rate.