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Buying A Caravan | 12 Tips To Avoid Common Buying Mistakes

Chris Hopkins
Sep 13, 2021 3:03:47 PM

Buying a new caravan is exciting. But, since a motor home is such a big investment, you must take your time with the purchase. Whether you spend $20,000 or $120,000, you’ll need to do everything you can to ensure it’s money well spent. If you do, you’re far more likely to buy a caravan that’s right for you.

So, before you plan your next road trip along winding coastal roads, past red rock canyons, and through wide open plains, plan your purchase first. These 12 top tips will help you avoid making common caravan buying mistakes.

12 Caravan Buying Tips

1. Research Your Dream Caravan

dream caravan

Shopping with purpose is key, so you’ll need to do plenty of research. Given the amount of choice you’ll have when you buy a caravan, it can be an overwhelming task, particularly for first-time caravan buyers. So, it’s a good idea to look into standard caravan layouts and the optional extras you can expect to find. This will help you hone in on the right vehicle for your needs.

Familiarise yourself with typical price ranges, too. You’re far less likely to make an ill-advised purchase during the caravan buying process if you know what you can expect for your money.

2. Stick to Your Budget

caravan budget

Budgeting is never going to be the best part of buying a new caravan. But, for such a sizable investment, you have to be realistic. So, once you know what you can expect to find in each price range, set limits and stick to them. This will also help you decide how to finance your caravan, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.

Keep in mind that you always have the option of haggling if the caravan you want to buy is a little out of reach. You could even choose to rent the caravan out when you’re not using it, which might free up some additional funds and assist with the budgeting options.

buying a used caravan checklist

3. Make Sure the Amenities Are Suitable

perfect caravan

Always look closely at each caravan’s amenities. The whole point of buying a caravan is that it has to be fit to live in. So, make sure there’s plenty of room to cook in the kitchen, especially if you have a big family. Modern gadgets might be useful, but try not to opt for modernity over practicality. After all, you can always buy high-quality, cost-effective kitchen accessories later.

Take a look at the washroom and toilet facilities, too. If you want to holiday comfortably, you probably won’t appreciate a cramped shower. Many two-berth caravans have shower rooms that span the rear of the vehicle, but there are some in which you might struggle to move with the door closed.

4. Attend Caravan Shows

caravan show

One of the most efficient ways to find a caravan is to attend caravan shows. Check out hundreds of different exhibitors and inspect their latest offerings all in one jam-packed day. If you want a thorough snapshot of the caravan market right now, there’s no better place to go.

Depending on the Australian caravan show you attend, there may also be a schedule of seminars and workshops. These are often invaluable for new caravanners hoping to sharpen their skills before their first trip.

5. Consider Buying a Second Hand Caravan

New isn’t always best. So, don’t discount the idea of buying a second-hand caravan because that’s often how you find the best deals. With time and patience, you could find the perfect cheap caravan that’s as good as new.

However, you should avoid buying second-hand caravans through online caravan auctions. Instead, look for a licensed caravan dealer with a wide selection available. You’ll be able to ask plenty of questions before making your selection and have more rights if there’s a problem post-purchase.

6. Don’t Ignore Caravan Towing Weight

Unless you plan on investing in a new car, too, the car you already own will need to be capable of towing a caravan. As such, it’s important not to jump into a purchase without checking the caravan's weight against the car’s towing capacity. Both should be specified by their respective manufacturers.

Ideally, your caravan’s maximum mass should not equate to more than 85% of your towing vehicle or car’s kerb weight. The kerb weight is the weight of the car with a full tank of fuel and without passengers or cargo. However, as long as the caravan does not weigh more than 100% of the towing vehicle’s kerb weight, it can still be towed, albeit not as easily.

7. Factor in the Payload

When trying to work out how heavy the caravan you buy should be, keep the payload in mind. If you buy a caravan that weighs the same as your towing vehicle’s kerb weight, it will be too heavy once you load it up. The payload includes such items as:

● Leisure battery.
● Motor mover.
● Television.
● Cookware.
● Water.
● Gas bottles.

Therefore, you should aim to buy a caravan that is lighter than 85% of the car’s kerb weight. That way, you won’t run the risk of having an overweight caravan after you pack it.

8. Keep Road Conditions In Mind

caravan towing road conditions

Ask yourself where you want to go when you buy a caravan. If you plan on driving it across the rough terrain of the Australian outback, you’ll need a semi-off-road caravan. Also known as off-road hybrid caravans, they have higher ground clearance and more durable suspensions. In addition, you can expect them to have a filtered pressure system that will keep the interior free from dust.

9. Choose the Right Caravan for You

caravan amenities

You have to balance what you need with the features you want. So, think about practical things like towing weight and budget. Then, decide what you’d really like to have in your caravan and consider whether it’s realistic. This could include, say, extra storage space, high-tech gadgets, or even an ensuite bathroom.

Try making a list of everything you want before you start searching. If you find that it’s completely out of reach, you may have to revisit your list of demands. It helps to be sensible when you’re buying a caravan for you and your family.

10. Think About Deal Breakers

While practicality is often key when caravan shopping, there’s no point in buying one that you really can’t stand. So, along with your list of wants, write down any deal breakers. These are the features that you absolutely will not settle for. Then, take the list out to dealerships with you to remind you of everything you’d like to avoid, for example:

● Fold-out beds.
● Pop tops.
● Small kitchen worktops.
● No washing machine.
● Height, length, and weight deal breakers.

Remember that, ultimately, your caravan is your holiday home, so you have to be happy spending time in it. By writing out lists of wants and deal breakers, you're more likely to stay focused as you shop. Caravan buying can be draining, so it helps to remind yourself of your must-haves and must-nots. Otherwise, you might end up settling on a whim.

11. Find the Right Caravan Financing Option

perfect caravan finance

Once you’ve decided which caravan to buy, you can begin to think about financing options. Buying outright is one, although that’s not always possible for more expensive models. Caravans cost a significant amount of money, especially when you buy them brand new. So, consider financing your caravan to cover the costs.

There are lots of different loan products available from banks and other financial institutions, the challenge is determining which finance option is right for you. That's where Ausloans can help.

As Australia's largest independent finance aggregator we have access to one of the largest lender panels in the country and have caravan loan options for all credit profiles. We take the pain out of caravan finance by doing all the hard work for you. We don't just compare lenders we match you with the best lenders for your credit profile and deliver you real offers with real rates from guaranteed lenders. The whole process takes under 10 minutes, won't affect your credit score, and starts with our simple. paperless online application. Ready to apply click the banner below and get your personalised caravan finance rate today. 

12. Prepare for the Handover

Now for the exciting bit: the handover. This is where you’ll finally pick up the keys and take your new caravan home with you. So, first things first, make sure you have the right trailer connection plug fitted to your towing vehicle. Towing mirrors are also recommended, as is having a full tank of petrol.

During the handover, you’re likely to have a lot of information thrown at you, so take plenty of notes. You could even record video footage or ask the caravan dealer to take you on a test drive. Just try and soak up as much as you can because there’s so much to learn about the different makes and models.

Finally, take the time to check carefully for damage and scratches. You don’t want to have to foot a big repair bill when you’ve only just picked your new vehicle up. So, it’s important to point out any problems you find and ensure they’re resolved before driving a caravan away.

How to Avoid Caravan Buying Mistakes

Buying a new caravan tends to be a long and involved process. As a result, it’s easy to make mistakes. Whether you’re a first-time caravanner or a seasoned pro, a family vacationer, or a month-long road tripper, you should follow the above 12 tips. They will help you buy a caravan you love for the best possible price.

easy caravan finance

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