Caravaning is a great way to tour the vast stunning country we live in. Following some simple guidelines when purchasing and using your caravan, camper or motor home will make that experience even more enjoyable. We have dedicated this section of our site to supply you with tips and information on purchasing and using a RV. The tips and information supplied are only to be used as a guide and should be treated as such. If you have any tips that you feel would make other campers holiday more enjoyable and relaxing, please feel free to pass the information on and we will be more that happy to add it to our site.
Do I Purchase My Used RV Privately Or From A Dealer ?
Buying your caravan, camper or motor home form a dealer can have many benefits. Most dealers carry a good variety of used stock, so you are sure to get some ideas on layouts and price. Most larger city dealers are located in the same vicinity, this usually encourages dealer competition and increases your chance of obtaining the best price for your recreational vehicle.
When purchasing a van from a dealer you have the opportunity to pick out any faults that the unit may have. These faults should be pointed out to the dealer prior to signing any agreement so he has the opportunity to let you know what he is prepared to repair.
Most dealers will also offer a warranty which can vary form one to twelve months, this may differ from yard to yard. A PD (pre delivery) service should be included with your purchase, ask your salesman if the PD covers a full service and if the dealer will spend time with you when picking up your van explaining the do’s and don’ts. This is very important because if you’ve never owned a van before you will need to be familiar with how everything operates and correct hooking up procedures.
Purchasing a used RV privately has benefits too. Most people selling their per loved RV ask less than dealers, keep in mind that there is always a risk element attached. If you have researched the model you are looking for and have experience with looking out for the various pit falls, you are likely to save yourself a considerable amount of money.
A tip when purchasing a used RV privately is, if your not sure about something ask, it’s also advisable to take someone who has some experience along to get a second opinion.
If you do purchase your RV privately having it inspected and services by a reputable service technician would be advisable. Once serviced correctly you will be able to take off on your well earned holiday assured that your RV will take you where you want to go.
Further on we will go into a little more detail on items you should check when purchasing your RV. Hopefully these tips will provide you with some useful information when purchasing your next RV whether it be from a dealer or privately.
Quick Caravan Inspection Tips
If buying privately ask why the owner is selling their pride and joy.
Check the van build date on the compliance plate or registration label.
What does the van weigh and can you car tow it when loaded?
What is the tow ball weight of the van, can your car carry it?
Will it fit where you intend storing it?
Registration when is it due?
Is there any proof of the RV's service history?
Research the model you are interested in as there are some lemons about.
Give the exterior a good visual inspection, check tyres, walls, lights, undercarriage, windows doors etc.
Give the interior a good visual inspection, check the lighting, appliances, bedding floor covering, and furniture.
Does the van smell musty? check for water damage.
Are spare parts easy to obtain?
What extras if any are included with the caravan?
Is the unit you're interested in cleared of all finance?
What are the warranty details if any?
Exterior RV Inspection List
Check the outside for any visible damage, cracked windows, or damage that may have been covered up with dummy vents and stickers etc.
Take the time to inspect all caulking around any external penetration and all four corners of the van. The jointing compound used on many older vans was a caulking compound which ages over time. Any signs of cracking, drying and holes may require attention.
Do all the indicator and exterior lights work ? Are there any sign of the light lenses fading are any cracked? if so chances are they will need to be replaced Are the parts readily available?
The tyres will need to be road worthy too! Check for signs of wear, and inspect the walls for cracking particularly on older vans.
The chassis will need to be free of any major rust that may be detrimental to it carrying the full load of the van. Check for any cover ups like fresh paint that may have been applied to disguise repairs or rust. Chassis on some vans built in the 80’s were notorious for cracking, their chassis were lightweight and therefore weren’t able to withstand the Australian road conditions.
Check the tested date stamped on the gas bottle tap guard, if it’s more than 10 years since it was last tested, the bottle will either have to be retested by an approved service agent or will have to be replaced.
Apply the hand brake will it hold the van? Check the coupling and safety chains for wear are they all in good working order?
If the van is supplied with a roll out awning ask to open it out fully and inspect it from the underside for holes or signs of wear. If the van was stored outside it is important that the first half metre of the rollout awning is checked for exteriorization, as this section will have been subjected to the UV light the most. Checking that the awning operates correctly it’s important as they can be an expensive item to repair. Should the van have a canvas awning make sure there are no signs of mould and tears. Does it come complete with all poles and ropes?
Bearings and brakes are an important part of any RV and should be maintained regularly, when purchasing a van privately ask for proof of any servicing that may have been undertaken. If the van is equipped with electric brakes a brake controller will need to be fitted to your car if you haven’t already done so.
All vans will have winding or drop down corner stabilizer legs which are there solely to stabilize the van when parked. These legs are never to be used to carry the full weight of the van when changing tyres as they are not designed for that purpose. Check that the stabilizer wind down handle is with the van and ensure the stabilizers all work correctly.
Check the jockey wheel for wear, some of the solid rubber wheels have a tendency to split and may need to be replaced. Does the jockey wheel wind up and down freely? If not it may require a service or need to be replaced.
Interior RV Inspection list
Ask the person selling the van if the power can be turned on prior to you arriving. Ask too if the fridge can be turned on at the same time so it can be checked when inspecting the van. If there is gas in the bottle run the fridge on gas too.
Whilst the power is on inspect all 240 volt electrical equipment. Items such as roof mounted and wall mounted air conditioners, lighting, battery charger units, range hoods, microwave and water heaters. note: when operating water heaters they should be filled with water first.
If mains water is available ask for it to be connected and check all tapware in the kitchen and bathroom and eternal showers units and taps where fitted. Place water in the water tank check the tank for leaks, run the hand pump or water pump where fitted
Most late model caravans have a 12 Volt systems which will run the lighting and some appliances such as range hoods, water pumps, stove ignition systems and CD/DVD players If there is a battery system in place it will either be charged via a charger unit, solar panels or direct from the car when the engine is running. Ask the person selling the van to explain how it all functions and make sure the system is working correctly, e.g. is the charger working? and where solar panels are fitted check the solar regulator to see if the panels are charging the batteries.
Open and close all windows and doors, try all the locks and catches to ensure they work correctly. In some older vans the winders and catches are no longer available and therefore the cost to modify existing mechanisms can be very expensive. Inspect the fly screens and the window and door seals at the same time.
Take the time to inspect the soft furnishings eg: curtains, blinds, seating and bedding. Check for signs of wear tears and compressed cushions foam.
Inspect the interior ply veneer for discoloration, mould or darkening, places to inspect are all corners, around roof hatches and vents. Look in all the overhead cupboards and in lower storage areas located at the four corners of the van for water stains. Damage timberwork can be costly to repair and in some cases the veneer may no longer be available.
Turn the gas on and inspect the gas stove, griller and oven for correct operation. If the van is equipped with a gas hot water heater ask for it to be lit. note: when operating water heaters they should be filled with water first. All later model RV’s should have a plumbing certificate of compliance from the manufacturer, which will cover all gas work. Remember whenever testing for gas leaks always use concentrated soap suds and apply to the suspect joint, if a leak is present the suds will bubble. All repair work must be undertaken by a qualified trade person.