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A Guide To Buying A Motorhome

When it comes to purchasing a new motorhome, whether that is a brand new model or one that has had a previous owner, there are a number of things that you must bear in mind. For starters, no one wants to rush into the purchase of something that is inevitably going to cost them a pretty substantial amount of money.

Buying a used motorhome is very similar to buying a used caravan in that they both require you to take some time out and put plenty of thought into your purchase. Here at CaravansforSale, we understand that choosing a motorhome can be an enjoyable, but also relatively stressful task. We love that you are considering purchasing a motorhome and want to offer you as much help along the way as possible.

So, here are some snippets of advice that may come in handy to help you out when it comes to purchasing a used motorhome.

Make, model and layout

Make, Model and Layout

It can be tempting to delve into a purchase straight away. You see a big flashy motorhome, think to yourself ‘hey, that’s a good price’ and end up taking it home with you after parting with cash. However, was that motorhome suitable for you? Here are some things to bear in mind before you even begin to think about making a purchase…

You will want to determine what size motorhome you’re after. Make sure that you are aware of how many berths you require, based on how many people you will be holidaying with.

It is also worth being sure of how much space you wish to have. For example, will you want a separate toilet? Do you need a washroom? How many beds do you need? All of these will play a part in the size of motorhome you require.

Similar to the size issue, you need to be sure that you don’t exceed the legal weight limit. Therefore, you need to remember how many people you will be travelling with and whether or not you will be fitting your motorhome with any extra fixtures, such as roof racks or furniture. Check the legal weight and make sure that you purchase a motorhome that is suitable for your needs.

How much time will you be spending in your motorhome? If you are going to be spending a lot of time in your motorhome you may want things like a kitchenette and a washroom.

You will need to make sure you are covered to drive the motorhome on your license or if you need to take an additional test.

When you know what size and weight of motorhome you’re after, you might start to get a better idea of the make and model that you fancy. It’s definitely worth taking some time out to do a bit of market research. Have a look around the web and see what is out there. You might end up falling in love with a model that you had never considered before, or one you had never even heard of.

One thing that you may wish to take a look at is the recurring or common issues surrounding the models that you are interested in. Some designs or makes may encounter different issues along the way. Some issues are unavoidable and relatively simple to sort, whereas others could end up costing you money and time. So weigh up the options and bear the issues in mind when browsing for your motorhome.

Different models and makes of motorhome will be able to offer you different interiors and layouts. If you have a specific design or layout in mind then it is worth doing your research before you head out, so you know which makes and models offer what you’re after.

budget

Budget

You need to decide on your budget. Take into account not only the amount you are willing to spend on the vehicle itself but also the running costs and any other outgoings that may be included in owning it, for example, any repairs that may need to be done later down the line.   

Think about how much insurance will cost on your motorhome, these are all things that need to be allowed for in your budget.  

If you are purchasing an older model, then you will have to take into account the fact that it may require further investment down the line. Other things to take into account that will add to your outgoings include servicing, recovery, refurbishment and fuel.

You also want to consider what payment plans are available to 
you, if you are buying from a dealership. They will inform you of the plans they can offer but it’s worth researching to find the best payment methods. Don’t agree to any payment plans that you think may be slightly out of reach.

New or used

New Or Used

Buying a used motorhome will, of course, be cheaper in the beginning, but you may encounter problem and repairs that need to be carried out sooner. Buying a used motorhome may take more time to ensure that everything is as advertised and in working condition. You want to take into account just how old it is too, to avoid the issue of your motorhome packing up altogether, or if it needed new parts that aren’t made anymore.

If you opt for a new motorhome it may cost more in the beginning but will usually come with a certain amount of warranty and will be less likely to suffer issues early on.

It is worth making a list of all the pros and cons to help you decide whether buying a new or used caravan is best for you.


Buying options

Buying Options

Private seller or dealership? Dealerships can offer you some great deals on used caravans that aren’t very old and they will usually hold a good selection of models and specs. Buying from a dealership you can trust that the caravan’s condition is as described and is of satisfactory quality. Motorhomes sold by a dealer may also have a warranty, but make sure you check how long this lasts.

You also have the option of buying a brand new motorhome from dealerships where you can choose exactly what you want on your motorhome. These will also come with a warranty.

You can also choose to buy your motorhome from a private seller. Buying through this method you will need to be careful that everything is as described. When buying with a private seller the rights under the Sale of Goods Act in relation to the quality of the product do not apply. You will need to make a thorough inspection of the motorhome and any associated documents before agreeing to purchase.


Viewings

Viewings

View your motorhome and make sure you are happy with it before agreeing to buy it or signing any papers, especially if you are buying a used caravan. Make sure everything is in working order and that you know about any defects. 

If you are buying from a private seller You need to remain level headed and keep an eye out for a number of things. Here are some things to look out for when you are viewing a motorhome.

There are a number of documents that you will want to see before you purchase your motorhome. These will allow you to ensure that the person selling you the vehicle is the legal owner and they will also draw your attention to any major issues that may arise once you have made the purchase.

You’ll want to see the ownership documents as well as warranty papers, a full service history and any receipts. You may also want to look at the log book, taxation documents and MOT certificates. The owner of the motorhome should be able to offer you these documents with relative ease. VRM documentation should also be seen before proceeding with the purchase.

Once you’ve seen all of the relevant documentation and you’re happy with it all, you should then take a look in and around the motorhome. Inspect it for signs of damage or other issues that may cost you in the long run. One thing that could be an issue is damp. You’ll need to look out for visual signs, such as water marks, stains or bumps on the panels.

Other signs of damp include carpet discolouration, or the overuse of mats on the floor. You could also purchase a damp tester, which can be used to check for damp patches before you continue with the purchase of the vehicle. Damp can end up being a real issue if it is serious, however, small amounts can be tackled, so use common sense when looking for this.

If you are knowledgeable enough, then you may wish to take a look under the bonnet yourself. However, if not, then it may be a good idea to get an expert in to take a look at the motorhome’s engine. It is important that you make sure it is all in good working order and that it won’t fail on you in the future. If you do spot that there are some issues then these need to be taken into consideration when discussing the price. For example, if it is an issue that is fixable, you might not want to be put off the purchase straight away, when a slight adjustment to the cost can put the deal back on track.

As a general rule, all oil-based sealants should be replaced every five years. Acrylic sealants should be replaced every 10 years and silicone sealants every 20. Again, if these sealants are in need of replacing, you shouldn’t be put off the purchase. As with any other jobs that need doing, you just need to bear these in mind when negotiating price.

You will want to ensure that the tyres are legal and safe, and if they aren’t then factor the cost of new tyres into the amount you are willing to pay for the vehicle. It’s important that the tyres have the required depth of tread and you should also keep your eye out for cracks or other signs that could lead to problems.

You may also want to take a look at the windows and the doors. You want to check their hinges and locks to ensure that they are all nice and secure. The seals should also be checked to make sure that the motorhome is nice and watertight. When it comes to watertight seals, it is important that you take a look for signs of leaks. This also includes leaking fuel.

You should check the brake components for leaks as well as the radiators and the transmission. If any of these show any signs of leakage or damage, then you will need to be aware of how costly they can be to fix. It could be worth getting a quote for their repair before you continue with the purchase. You will want to check the plumbing and turn on all the taps to ensure the water supply reaches all of them.

You should also take a small gas cylinder along with you to test the gas appliances and a battery to test the electric appliances. If you aren’t comfortable doing this yourself, then it is a good idea to get a qualified engineer to take a look at it for you.

Completing the purchase

Completing The Purchase

When it comes to the final stage of purchasing your motorhome you need to read through the purchase agreement carefully. The agreement will outline rights and responsibilities for both the buyer and seller and answer any questions you may have on the agreement.

Make sure you have all the documents required to hand over the ownership of the motorhome.

If you have chosen a finance plan, check it over and make sure everything is as agreed previously and that all payments are affordable for you.

Make sure that you don’t enter into any agreements that you may not be able to afford and be sure to look at the terms and conditions of any loan agreements.

A guide to buying a motorhome