Buying a new caravan is probably the best way to guarantee you have all areas of roadworthiness covered.
Buying from a reputable second hand dealer is also a safe guard and recommended if pre-loved is your choice.
Buying from the bloke down the road or from an internet site is fine and it might save a buck, but is it safe?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought second hand and it’s worked for me.
Sweet old Bob and Vera surely wouldn’t rip me off … would they?
But (always a but), over the years they’ve added this and that and modified things to a point of unsafe driving (maybe a reason for sale). Weight issues are a whole new topic so I won’t go into them today, other than to say make sure the van is loaded correctly and weight is not over the manufacturer’s plated specifications.
If you don’t feel comfortable with any purchase,
if you doubt anything at all, don’t do it.
Spend a buck or two to get it checked out properly before making that spur of the moment and possibly regrettable decision.
Maybe you have an experienced vanner mate that can take a look.
If you’re a bit of a handyman or woman and want to have a go at doing a van up, then go for it (that’s on my bucket list), but if you’re not capable of that … then keep reading.
Here’s a few things to check when purchasing …
♦ Ask about the van’s history, where it’s been, what’s been replaced etc.
♦ Check it’s service history, ask for any available receipts and add-on installation dates.
♦ Check that everything works, stove and fridge gas flow, lights (internal and external), electrics, plumbing, water tanks and gauges.
♦ Look for water leak damage or wood rot and check gas connections through-out, you could even take a multi-meter to check the battery.
♦ Check any add-ons like an air-conditioner, it’s location and installation, a bigger ‘tool’ box or extra spare wheel mounted on the rear bumper and any dodgy welding jobs or chassis modifications.
♦ Be wary of any internal changes that look suspect, maybe a big microwave mounted precariously or a large fridge that looks out of place.
Tyres are often a forgotten or overlooked area on the trailer.
Your vehicle has the latest and greatest rubber, so don’t forget your van or camper.
You could think about getting the same rims and tyres as your vehicle (if size and stud pattern allow), this will give you a spare spare or two in an emergency.
When purchasing always check the tread condition and look for abnormal wear.
I always drive to conditions and make sure my vehicle (and tyres) suit the terrain. So if you plan to take your new camper into the bush for a bit of 4WD action, then get the tyres that best suit and inflate (or deflate) accordingly, not just your vehicle, your van or trailer as well.
Hitches, safety chains and couplings are other areas to look at.
Obviously check they are in good condition, not rusty and rated correctly.
Wheels and wheel bearings, as above, any rust is a bad sign, particularly if the trailer or van has been sitting for a long time.
Then of-course there’s the suspension, brakes, jockey wheel and stabilisers should all be in good nick and wind up and down easily. Does it come with weight distribution hitches and is there a jack?
Here’s the biggy, make sure your tow vehicle can pull the caravan, don’t buy a van that is above your vehicle’s weight towing capacity, even if it’s very close, reconsider.
All of the above could look a bit over the top, but caravanning and camping is without a doubt one my favourite pass times, so a few checks prior to purchase and when you are on the road, will ensure safe travels now and for many years ahead, not only for you, but other road users.
Remember that there are some great towing courses available, so I recommend that not only you, but your wife, husband, partner or travel buddy join you, this will give both of you a head start on many enjoyable trips together.
See you on the road!