Tips On Buying Secondhand Caravans

old caravan for refurbishment

While some people purchase a car every three years, purchasing a caravan may only happen once or twice. But if your budget does not extend to buying new, the prospect of buying a caravan secondhand may be a little daunting. Similar to buying a car, without being a mechanic, how do you know whether the caravan you are looking at is a good buy?

The good news is that there are plenty of secondhand caravans on the market to choose from and with a few tips on what to look for, as well as a reliable mechanic for all your caravan repairs, you’ll be able to find and purchase the right caravan.

What Type Of Secondhand Caravan?

Before anything else, you need too work out what type of caravan and features you require. Some questions include:

  • How many people will the van need to accommodate? How much privacy do I need?
  • How much storage do I require?
  • What features are essential?
  • What items am I prepared to pay to have retrofitted?
  • What features can I do without?

Does My Budget Include Caravan Repairs & Modifications?

You should also consider whether your budget extends to paying for caravan repairs or modifications as a condition of being able to get your new caravan on the road. If it does, it may be a good idea to find out the approximate costs of some common caravan repairs or modifications. For example:

  • a new fridge
  • heater
  • air conditioner
  • caravan awning
  • solar panels
  • 12 volt system to take you off-road.

caravan service - flywheel


How Much Can I Tow?

This is really important. The size of the caravan you buy will be limited by the towing capacity of your tow vehicle. Make sure you know your car’s maximum towing capacity, as well as the maximum weight for the towball and towbar (if these are already fitted).

There are several different numbers you need to know about when you are looking at secondhand caravans. These are the Tare and the ATM (Aggregate Tare Mass). These should appear on the compliance plate of the caravan. If the caravan was built before compliance plates were compulsory, you may need to take the caravan to a weigh bridge to confirm its weight.

What To Look For When Inspecting Secondhand Caravans

When you inspect secondhand caravans with the intention of buying, you need to know what to look for. Obviously a secondhand caravan is going to have some wear and tear. But some wear and tear is more significant and can lead to expensive repairs.

Water Damage

One of the most important things to look for when inspecting secondhand caravans is signs of water leakage and rust. The reason is that depending upon the extend of damage, this can be the most expensive to fix. Water damage can end up affecting the frame of the caravan, which requires taking off the aluminium cladding to get to the framing. A good idea is to to take a damp meter to thoroughly check the caravan, including inside all cupboards.

Impact Damage

Any damage associated with impact to a caravan can also be expensive. This sort of damage can lead to warping of the axle and the chassis. This can be dangerous, as it can cause the caravan to not track straight. Look for cracks in the chassis, an uneven floor and sagging or bowing of the walls.

caravan insurance repairs - suspension

Inside The Caravan

Look for the following things inside the caravan:

  • Do all doors and windows open and close easily?
  • Are all seals around windows and doors intact?
  • Do all the appliances work?
  • Are the gas, electrical and water lines working and show no damage?
  • Does the owner have certificates of compliance for the gas connections?
  • Is there a smoke alarm and a fire extinguisher? Do they work?
  • Are there any damp smells or evidence of water damage?
  • What about the condition of the floor? Is the floor level?
  • Do walls have any bowing or bending?

Outside The Caravan

Look for the following things on the outside of the caravan:

  • Are there any cracks, dents or scratches on the outside?
  • Are all seals intact between cladding sheets or are there signs of damage?
  • Is there any rust?
  • Doe the handbrake work?
  • Does the jockey wheel work?
  • What is the condition of the hitch?
  • Does the awning work or have any damage?

caravan towball


How Do I Find A Reliable Melbourne Caravan Mechanic?

When you buy a secondhand caravan it’s important to get it regularly serviced by a reliable mechanic who is experienced working on a range of models and with a range of repairs. This way you will avoid taking your caravan to multiple service centres and you’ll have the same experienced mechanics working on your caravan each time. Some caravan mechanics may be happy to check out a secondhand caravan before you purchase.

If you’re looking for caravan repairs Melbourne, you can ask other caravan owners for referrals. It’s a good idea to talk to a caravan service centre about their experience and the sorts of jobs they are prepared to work on. Some of the larger caravan service centres may not have the experience working on older models and may be reluctant to take on smaller jobs.

Emu Caravan Repairs Melbourne, located in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs has over fifteen years of experience working onĀ  a range of caravans of all ages. No job is too big or small for the team at Emu, and they are experienced with a range of caravan repairs and modifications, including caravan electrics and all servicing.

If you would like to talk to an experienced mechanic about caravan servicing, repairs or modifications to your caravan, please contact us.

Emu Caravan Repairs is a small family owned business, located in Ferntree Gully.