Guide to buying a caravan

Caroline Cassidy

Caravans are a popular holiday choice with us Brits, especially now finances are tight. There are many advantages to taking your holiday this way, once the initial purchase has been made. Your trip should be relatively inexpensive and a caravan will give you the freedom to roam around a wide range of beautiful spots. So, if you want the freedom of a caravan holiday what do you need to know about buying a caravan?

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Your decision on which caravan to buy may be dictated by your budget. Second-hand caravans can be a low cost option for first time caravan buyers. For some, used caravans also offer a more simple, back to basics, style of caravanning. Newer models tend to weigh more and come with interiors that include conveniences like built-in microwaves and spaces for televisions.

Buying a second-hand caravan has its drawbacks. It is your responsibility to ensure the caravan is sound and fit for purpose. It's a good idea to get someone to come with you when buying a second hand caravan, preferably with some experience, to give the caravan a thorough inspection. Is the price too low? How does it compare to similar vans on the market? Make sure the owner has a good level of knowledge about the caravan he is selling.

Buying privately means that you won't have legal protection if the caravan has faults. It's up to you to pose the right questions before making a commitment.

If you are going through a dealer make sure they are reputable. Do they offer a warranty? Never buy without seeing and inspecting the van first. Check for dampness and poor seals.

A caravan doesn't have a legal registration document with details of the keeper. You don't even have to register your caravan, so check the person selling does actually own it. You should also try to make sure there is no outstanding finance connected to the van.

It is worth enquiring whether the van has been involved in any accidents. Most repairs will be guaranteed for 12 months so check the date of the repair before handing over your cash.

If everything appears to be fine and you have agreed a price you will be expected to make payment with a bankers draft or cash. Once payment is made you should draw up a buyer's contract that each party can sign and keep a copy of. This will act as your purchase receipt.

Safety should be a priority when selecting your caravan. A six-berth caravan is all well and good but if the towing car can't pull the weight then you're wasting your time. Check the tow weight of the car that will be towing the caravan.

How and where will you store your caravan? There are local council regulations to consider before deciding to store your caravan at home. Caravan storage sites are an option. The Caravan Storage Site Owners' Assocation, (CaSSOA) provides advice on storage as well as approved storage sites.