For those new to the world of caravanning used caravans are often the best choices as the initial outlay will be less and if you do change your mind depreciation will not be a large factor. Dealers are probably the best place to start when looking for used caravans, do not expect to find pristine models however, many dealerships do not in fact have clean models, the majority of maintenance work does not begin until a sale has been made. You can however spot a good used caravan from a bad one at this stage, here are some helpful pointers.
So starting with ways to find quality used caravans.
First and foremost you need to see whether the used caravan has a full service history, much like buying a car, having a record of work undertaken on the caravan can be extremely useful. In addition, it is also important for all used caravans to have full documentation such as the handbook and literature associated with any of the equipment.
While used caravans are rarely kept in a pristine condition, it is still possible to take a detailed look around all of the nooks and crannies to look for dirt and possible instances of damp and mould. It is also advisable to judge the seller, if going private this is especially important as a keen caravanner will be able to sell you a 'van that they can recommend personally. The same can be said for dealers, if they have a good idea of how a 'van performs on a trip, this can be useful knowledge.
Speak to your friends and others with experience of caravans. They may be able to recommend a specific dealer or even give you information on the best model or layout for your needs. As well as personal recommendation read some magazines articles on which models are best. It is worth remembering however that the majority of 'van reviews occur when the model is new and for only a short period of time, they will rarely give information on how a 'van performs after a number of years.
Test everything when you are looking at used caravans, this includes doors and locks, the cupboards and even the toilet. Some of these things can be expensive to replace so knowing if they work before you buy can be extremely useful. Ultimately you want to find caravans that have been used well but not so much so that they seem neglected. A well used caravan may have some useful additions and shows that it has been loved and cared for; go on your first impressions and should not go far wrong.
In terms of spotting bad caravans;
Use you nose. If the 'van smells musty or damp it is probably worth being wary, do not confuse damp with smells from the waste water system, this can be easily remedied if cleaning fluids are used. If there is no warranty from the dealer you should find out why, and most probably walk away. Check carefully for exterior cracks and damage that may indicate that the caravan has not been well cared for. Replacements parts and repair work can be extremely expensive so bear in mind any costs that may be encountered after purchase. Also check the chassis for warping and damage and whether any work has been undertaken that looks bodged. Fixing the work of a DIY happy caravanner can be extremely time consuming and costly.
If you follow this advice it should be possible to find many used caravans that meet your requirements. Before you know it you could be enjoying touring holidays and great times in your new home from home.
Travel expert Thomas Pretty looks into what factors to consider when looking at used caravans for a caravan holiday.