Before you buy
If you’re looking to buy a pre-loved van, consider spending upwards of $10,000, as caravans tend to hold their value. You may be able to find a bargain for around $5,000, but for that price you’ll probably struggle to find a van that’s in reasonable condition, with up-to-date registration, a complete maintenance history and good features.
Consider purchasing from a licensed dealer as they perform many checks to ensure each van is in good condition and isn’t encumbered (money owing under a finance contract). When considering what to look for when buying a second-hand caravan, it’s also really important to think about what type of caravan is best for you, how much space you have to store it and where you will be travelling to.
Buying Australian made
Many models of Aussie-made caravans can be purchased second-hand. If you’re after a luxury model with all the trimmings, there are lots of local options available. Check out brands that have an extensive array of caravans, pop-tops and campers – you’ll find a good selection on classifieds sites. Most manufacturers offer entry-level, mid-level and premium vans designed with significant off-road capabilities.
Safety is paramount, so have a look at models that are fitted with the IRS axle system for greater stability and control on varying road conditions, and stabiliser coupling sets for towing safety. Also, electronic stability control and roller rocker suspension are fitted as standard in some models.
Coming face to face with your dream model
When you’ve found your caravan of choice, check the condition of its body.
- Scrapes and dents – If you find any, determine if they’re superficial or whether they’re contributing to a more serious problem.
- Check the roof for deteriorated joint sealant – This could suggest leaks.
- Check the wheel bearings and listen for any knocking sounds.
- Check for cracks in the chassis.
- Look at the electrical, gas, brake and water lines, and the water tank.
- Open and close doors, windows and cupboards, and ensure keys open all locks.
- View the registration papers and make sure the vehicle identification number (VIN) matches the number listed.
- Ask to take the caravan to a weighbridge to ensure it meets legal road-weight limits.
You now know what to look for when buying a second-hand caravan, but you may still be unsure about which model will best suit your needs. Renting a caravan before you purchase gives you the opportunity to try before you buy. Or, if you’ve found the van you want, here are some questions you should ask the seller.