Essential Tips for Your First Used Caravan

Essential Tips for Your First Used Caravan

Make sure your first caravan is the best caravan for you.

It's hardly a revolutionary statement to say that buying a caravan can be costly. However, it illustrates why many people prefer to buy a secondhand caravan rather than a completely new one. But if your budget secondhand buy isn’t purchased carefully, your savings could end up in the hands of a caravan repairer.

To avoid this situation, it's critical to understand what to look for when purchasing a used caravan. This easy-to-use and comprehensive checklist will guide you in the right direction.

Before buying a new or used caravan, there are a few things to think about:

Where would you like to go?

How long will you be there? Is it going to be a short trip or a long adventure?

Are you going to go off-road or stay on the highway?

Hire a caravan and go on a short journey to get a feel for what might suit you. (Even a hazy idea of your travel plans can impact the type of caravan that would best suit your requirements.)

Be prepared for the inspection/viewing by carrying these essential items:

  • A notebook and pen to jot down the advantages and disadvantages of your proposed purchase.
  • A tape measure to examine the dimensions of the caravan.
  • A camera or smartphone to take photos for later reference (it's funny how much you remember and how little you recall about exact aspects afterward).
  • A torch to inspect those hard-to-reach areas, particularly beneath the vehicle.
  • A damp meter to check the moisture levels in the van.

These are the most important questions to ask:

  • What is the age of the van?
  • Where has it been previously?
  • Where does it 'dwell' (undercover or out in the open)?
  • These questions may influence your purchasing decision, as appearances can be deceiving. If you have any worries regarding the caravan, don't be scared to ask questions.
  • It's also a good idea to ask about service and ownership history documents, as well as if the vendor has a current weighbridge, gas, and electrical certificate.
  • Check with your state/appropriate territory's authorities to see if any of these documents are legally necessary when owning a caravan.
  • Another key consideration is the size of your tow vehicle and the weight it can tow, therefore the caravan's size is critical.
  • Knowing the history of a used vehicle could impact your decision to buy.

What should you be looking for on the outside of the caravan?

  • When looking at the van's outside, there are a few things to keep in mind. Take the following into consideration when inspecting a vehicle, as you would when buying a used van:
  • Is there any rust on the vehicle (even underneath it)?
  • Are there any dents, scratches, or other blemishes on the vehicle (including the roof)?
  • What are the tyres' conditions?
  • Is it possible to open and close the windows and doors properly?
  • Are there any visible paint jobs that could be hiding more serious problems?

In addition, there are a number of caravan-specific criteria to consider:

  • Is there any damage to the chassis?
  • Is there any damage to the axle?
  • Does everything appear to be in order beneath the van: wiring, piping, etc?
  • Is the handbrake on the van effective?
  • Is the tow hitch free to move around?
  • Is the jockey wheel easy to wind up and down?
  • Is the awning properly opening and closing?
  • Is the gas and electricity system in good working order?
  • There's a lot to look at when it comes to the caravan's appearance!

What should you be looking for inside the caravan?

  • Is there any evidence of moisture? Your damp metre will come in helpful at this point. Make a thorough investigation of the area, including the corners and cupboards.
  • Is the floor of the caravan in excellent condition?
  • Is there a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher in the van?
  • Do all of the appliances, such as the stove, microwave, and refrigerator, work?
  • Are all of the drawers and cabinets in good working order?
  • Do the water sources (shower, sink, etc.) work properly?
  • Are the lights on?
  • Is the main door adequately locked?
  • Is the gas and electricity system in good working order?
  • It's critical to inspect the caravan's interior thoroughly.

Is everything going to be in tip-top shape, i.e. what should your expectations be?

Naturally, a used caravan will show signs of wear and tear, so expect a few scratches, fading, or other minor flaws. Any of the above, however, anything that jeopardizes your safety, should be avoided at all costs.

Also, consider whether the van's asking price sufficiently accounts for concerns like moisture and rust, which can be costly to repair.

Minor issues should not detract from the joy of owning a caravan!

I'm happy with my purchase and am now the proud owner of a caravan. What's the next step?


Congratulations! It's now time to go on the road. But before, have a look at these helpful hints for your first caravanning trip. Best wishes on your journey.