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Buying A Second Hand Caravan Part 1

Choosing The Right Model For You and Where To Find It!

second hand caravan park outside a warehouse

When buying a caravan first consider that it means investing a fair amount of money in a vehicle that you will need room to house. Once you have cleared these relatively small obstacles – the open road is yours; new places await and holidays will now come with a large helping of fresh air and stunning scenery.

The benefits of buying a second hand caravan are that they are usually cheaper and will tend to hold their value for longer than a new one.

Where (and when) to buy your caravan?


  • Avoid March, April and May for buying your caravan from a dealer. These are generally the caravan dealer’s busiest months with new caravans regularly being delivered. January and February are the months for grabbing a bargain – as they will be ‘clearing’ old stock to make room for the new.

    The caravan must be as described, of a satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.

    Check the vehicle thoroughly yourself.

    The ‘Sale of Consumer Goods Regulations’ now allows purchasers to request repairs or replacement of any item which is not of satisfactory quality. The courts will also have the power to order the seller to do this. New regulations include an assumption that any defects that are found within 6 months of the sale must have been there at the time. The seller would have to prove otherwise.

Buying Privately

  • This is the place for real bargains. But where there are real bargains there is also the risk of being stung. Be careful.

    You will need to do more of your own research and understand what you are checking for regarding quality etc. Take along a second opinion (a friend or family member – preferably someone who will also be using it) and a checklist.

    The caravan must be as described, of a satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.


  • - An alternative purchasing avenue, but refurbished models are sometimes available directly from the manufacturer – so it is worth a look.


  • You can find auctions in the Yellow Pages ‘Car Auctioneers’.

    This is again a place for bargains – but has the same issues as buying privately. You must do you research.


  • Buying overseas will make your caravan more unusual here in the UK and therefore more appealing.

    Before importing a second-hand caravan check that it meets the UK requirements for mains wiring and fire safety – re. seat cushions.

    Make sure that spares and servicing for this vehicle are available.

Choosing the best model and make

Caravan? Or Camper van?

  • Decide on the primary use for your caravan.

    Do you want to be free to travel across a large area with several stops? If so a camper van may be more practical.

    Or would you prefer to settle in the same spot for a couple of weeks? Then perhaps a caravan would be best. You will also have your car to go exploring – which is easier to move than a camper van.


  • Consider where you will store your caravan. What size would you comfortably have room for?

    You will also need to consider the size when manoeuvring and towing the caravan.

    Who is going to be using the caravan? 2 berths are perfect for couples – but for families and friends you may require a larger vehicle.

    Adding a sleeping tent or awning can add extra space if the numbers using the caravan are only temporarily or occasionally increased.


  • The average practical life of a caravan is 14 years. So it may be prudent to choose a caravan within this date range. If you have fallen in love with a retro model, consider how much you would have to spend to update it.

    To find out the age of the caravan check the serial number on the chassis/chassis plate. If this is missing then check the caravan’s handbook.

Important things to check

  • As you would with the purchase of a used car – find out what you can about the history of the caravan. Eg. What distances has it covered? Or has it spent a lot of time not being used (this is not a good sign).

    Check for damp, check the doors and windows are watertight and secure.

    Check the chassis and the mechanisms etc.

    Check the electrics and the gas.

    Be wary of signs of DIY

    Get an HPI check. All caravans manufactured post 1992 will have a registration number. This number can tell you if the vehicle is stolen, has ever been written off and if it has any outstanding finance.


  • More choice.

    Spare parts should be easier to obtain.

    Resale value should hold well.

    Price: average/above average


  • Built to last.

    Mod cons.

    Difficult to find. May have to travel for the right model.

    Price: Pricey, often as much as a new model.

Specifications to expect

  • Hot water system with shower.

    Cassette toilet.




    Mains electrics.

If the caravan does not include these specifications you should be able to get a better price. You will also need to research the costs of adding them in yourself.

To be continued...