Buying a Used Caravan

Why buy used?

According to The Caravan Club, most caravans have a practical life of about 14 years so it’s well worth considering buying a used caravan, and benefit from the cost savings to be had. Buying a second hand caravan is also more likely to hold its value than a new one.

Where to look?

Dealers – you’re more likely to be offered a warranty if you buy from a dealer. If not, you can get extended warranties from companies like Engineer Aftercare. You’ve got plenty of consumer rights if you buy from a dealer, so you’re entitled to a caravan which is fit for purpose and meets reasonable standards.

Private Sale - If you buy privately the main benefit will be the cost savings. However, you should do a lot more checks on the caravan you’re intending to buy to make sure you’re not being sold a dud! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

When should I buy?

Prices of used caravans tend to drop during the second half of the year. This is because dealers will try and clear second-hand stock before new caravans enter the market in March. After this, lots of caravans are traded in because new caravans have been bought. When new sales drop off after the summer, used caravans are harder to sell and the price drops.

Which make and model?

  • How many does it need to sleep?
  • Which layout suits my needs?
  • Double of twin axle?

Browse caravanning forums and online reviews for lots of first-hand advice and recommendations. Magazines like Caravan and Practical Caravan will also be useful.

Whilst European manufactured caravans can often be of higher quality, it may be difficult to get spare parts if you run into problems. The door may also be on the ‘wrong’ side.

Generally, the older the model, the cheaper your used caravan will be. However, what you’ll save on money will cost you on mod cons and potentially important safety features. In the late 1990s a range of European Standards were introduced for caravans, which covered electrical installations, ventilation and durability.

When you’ve pinpointed the make and model you’re after, research similar vans for sale to get an idea of how much you should be paying.

How to pay?

Private sellers will generally request a cash sale, so make sure you get a signed , detailed receipt and take a note of their name and address. Dealers or private sellers may ask for a deposit, so make sure you’ve made the right decision as you won’t get this back if you change your mind.

Questions to Ask

  • Does it have a servicing record
  • Proof of ownership – a CriS check will verify the owner’s details, as well as stating whether there is any outstanding finance or if it’s ever been reported stolen. This only applies to post-1992 caravans. Check out our blog post about common scams to avoid buying a stolen caravan.
  • Is a warranty available. If not, consider an extended warranty.
  • Can my car tow it legally. Towmatch will tell you.
  • What security devices does it have?
  • How easy is it to get spare parts?
  • Have any modifications been made?
  • Can I get insurance?

Things to Check

  • Internal fittings
  • Damp levels
  • Windows & rooflight
  • Lights
  • Gas & Electrical system
  • Exterior bodywork corrosion
  • Tyres
  • Leisure battery
  • Waste outlet
  • Gas gauge
  • Corner steadies
  • Overrun brake / Jockey wheel / Breakaway cable

Check out this video from The Trudgians which goes into more detail about all the things you should consider when buying a used caravan.

And don’t forget that you’ll need somewhere to store your caravan! Find a CaSSOA accredited caravan storage site here.

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