Know Exactly What You Are Buying!
How do I know if it is stolen?
Ask to see receipts and other documentation indicating caravan ownership.
Is there visible damage around the wheel rim or the hitch? If so, a security device may have been removed using force.
Be particularly careful when buying a large, twin-axled caravan, they are a favourite of thieves.
Get a CRiS check. This can check if the caravan has been stolen, identify the age (of newer models) and also track down outstanding payments on the vehicle (pre 1992).
Get it Theftchecked. The Caravan Club have set up a Theftcheck Service (Telephone 01342 336885). Registration is free for Caravan Club members.
How can I tell if it is watertight?
Probably one of the most damaging things to happen to a caravan is for the inside to become damp. Most water penetrates the caravan through the windows and roof lights. But be aware that it can also enter through:
Front and rear panels
Ways to check for damp:
Buy a moisture meter/damp detector from a DIY shop (around £20), this will give you an idea of the level of damp and whether it is a problem.
Look under the sink, inside cupboards, around pumps, pipes and on mattresses and cushions for signs of leaking and damp.
Remember that water works its way downwards.
Look out for any ‘patchwork’ of wallpaper to cover up problems.
Does it smell mouldy?
Does it feel unusually soft when touched? This could indicate rot.
Ask how long the previous owner had the caravan for. A short time could possibly mean that there are issues with it.
How old is the caravan and what does this mean to me?
Below is an outline of when certain modifications were introduced, either for practicality or increasing awareness in health and safety. These dates will indicate what body work construction and important revisions to expect. It can also help you to date your caravan.
Pre 1970: This is a specialist area and you will have to research accordingly. You can find out more from The Historic Caravan Club on 01215 615742.
1970s: BS 4626 – The British Standard for construction, space, ventilation and safety was introduced.
‘Coachbuilt’ body work construction typical (wooden frame covered by plywood and aluminium). This was heavy.
Floor insulation introduced.
Enclosed gas bottle locker.
Heavy painted steel chassis, coil spring and shock absorber suspension.
12V lighting introduced. Still some gas lamps.
1978: Acrylic windows were introduced and soon became double glazed units.
Oct 1979: Rear fog lamps became a legal requirement.
Early 1980s: ‘Sandwich’ body work construction is now typical (thin metal, plywood sheets and insulating core) in an attempt to make the vehicle more lightweight. These caravans can have structural problems.
1990s: Codes of practice for sealing caravans were revised.
1998: BS4626 was replaced by European standards EN1648.
2003: Gas system revised, now European standard EN1949. Meaning that the gas regulator is now fixed to the caravan rather than on top of the gas cylinder.