The Ultimate Caravan First Time Buying Guide
If you are buying first time we have all the advice you need
Tuesday, 02, Apr 2019 03:36
By William Coleman
If you're new to caravanning, buying a caravan for the first time can be a daunting and overwhelming process. With so many options out there, it can be difficult to figure out where to start.
It can be easy to pick the wrong choice, especially when buyers are drawn in by high-tech features, style or the make and model. Despite these being attractive reasons to buy a caravan, you need to think practically about what you're buying for and your individual needs. For example, are you traveling by yourself, or do you have a small family to cater for too?
Purchasing a caravan can be a significant investment, so you'll need to do your best to find the right one first time to avoid the hassle of reselling or trading in for something new. To help you with this vital decision, we've put together a comprehensive guide on what you need to look out for as a prospective caravan owner.
Questions to ask when Buying a Caravan for the first time
Can My Car Tow A Caravan?
Firstly, you need to purchase a caravan that suits what you already have. Not all cars are capable of towing a caravan, but those that are may be better than others or only able to tow up to a certain weight. This will highly impact your decision on which one to buy. After all, if you're looking to purchase a caravan, what's the point if you can't take it anywhere?
Essentially, you need to stay within the law and also remain safe when towing, so ensure you strictly follow the guidelines set out by UK road laws, and foreign ones too if you're intending to travel abroad.
To find out if your car can tow a caravan, you need to check the car manufacturer's weight limit. This may be less than the car itself, so ensure you check this before you buy. You can do this by checking online on the car maker's website, your car handbook, or use a towing capacity calculator like this one. Another way to figure it out is if the caravan's mass is less than 85% of the total car's mass. Towing will be much easier providing that you're under this weight limit. It's really important you check this before you travel.
What Weight & Berth?
Once you've determined whether your car is capable of towing a caravan, you'll be looking for vehicles under that particular weight. The average weight of a caravan is around 1300kg, but this doesn't account for any personal belongings when setting off on a holiday. Depending on how confident you feel when driving and the size you require, this will further narrow your choice of caravan.
Depending on the construction type and the materials your caravan is made from, it will also affect the towing weight. The higher the berth, generally the higher the weight, as you'll need more room to sleep and move around.
How Much Is My Budget?
You'll be significantly restricted by your budget, which will subsequently help with other decisions such as style, model and layout. Costs can creep into the tens of thousands, so you need a strict budget in mind when doing your research. Once you've decided on a budget, this will really direct your research and you'll see the size and facilities you can get for your money.
For between £4000-£8000, you're likely to get a functional second-hand caravan that's been manufactured in the last 10 years or so. This price range will give you more flexibility than lower budgets in terms of berth and layout. Newer caravans start in excess of £10,000, but it's worth looking around at all your options to try and find a bargain rather than purchasing one too quickly, as you may find better deals elsewhere.
New Or Second Hand?
This decision will be based on your budget, but also where you purchase your caravan from. A private seller or dealership will often trade in second-hand caravans which can be much cheaper than purchasing from the manufacturer. However, you will have to consider the state and condition, accounting for any extra costs and replacements of soft furnishings or replacement caravan mattresses
Buying a caravan that's been properly maintained will not only help with long term maintenance costs but could also help you save on insurance. However, a new caravan may have the advantage of carrying a warranty, so what you decide is up to you. When buying from a second-hand seller, ensure you view all the documentation and service records to avoid buying a defective or stolen caravan.
Layout & Style
Finally, the caravan you purchase needs to be suitable for you and your uses. The last thing you should do is buy a caravan on recommendation, and realise it's completely the wrong layout, or you dislike the style. Such inconveniences may put you off from using it, which won't make it worth the investment.
You may find that after doing some research you'll have a preference for a certain layout or style. For example, would you prefer a fixed bed, or seating you can convert into one? Some users prefer to use on-site bathroom facilities or have their own in their caravan. Regardless, these preferences may have cost implications so ensure you choose wisely in line with your budget.
Any Other Useful Advice For Buying My First Caravan?
Do your research! we can't stress enough that you need to consider all makes, models, and sizes and find your personal preferences and constraints in terms of budget and weight. The last thing you want to do is put a large deposit on a van and then change your mind. Therefore, gain as much insight as you can by viewing caravans online, visiting sellers and dealerships and also trade shows are a good way to get more advice.
Forums and other social media channels can be useful in answering common questions but bear in mind that these aren't always accurate and hold mostly personal opinions. If in doubt, you can discuss your needs with a caravan club or ask for independent advice.