Buying a second-hand caravan is as difficult as buying a used car. What do you have to know before deciding on one?
The first question you should ask yourself regards the model, because each caravan is different. There are larger and smaller vehicles, with different capacity, varying number of sleeping places and with different equipment. The more precisely we could define what we’re looking for, the sooner we will find the best model.
Before you start searching...
First of all, we have to determine, whether the owner prefers active or less active holidays, and whether he will travel a lot, or rather spend his holidays only in one place. In the first case, the smaller caravan the better, because they’re easy to manoeuver. However, if it’s just about coming to one place and then treating the caravan like your second home, it’s better to choose bigger and well equipped model.
Let’s not be too fast, though! The caravan has to fits the car, which will pull it. If we only have a driving license cat. B, the permissible maximum weight of the unit consisting of a caravan and car shall not exceed 3.5 tons. Besides, the car should always weigh more than the caravan. A large caravan will require a heavier and more powerful car. Besides, it’s worth noting that the smaller the curb weight of the caravan, the larger the capacity (usually).
From the outside the caravan examination looks similarly to the car examination. First of all, you need to check thoroughly whether there’re no signs of corrosion, dents or other signs which might indicate that the vehicle was involved in collisions.
The second important issue are the tires. These are changed less frequently in caravans than in cars. It may be that the depth of tire tread is still sufficient, but the tire is too old and it needs to be changed, in order not to cause problems on the road.
You also need to check the condition of shock absorbers and brakes. To check the parking brake, you need to set the caravan on the supports, apply the brake, and then try to spin the wheels. If the wheels are spinning, it means that the brake is in poor condition. In the case of overrun brake, you have to strongly push the hook in the direction of the caravan. The brake will start to go back to the previous position, but it should be done slowly (the slower, the better).
While examining the caravan, it’s worth noting whether it has some external storages and external access to the toilet container. The lack of this facility will make emptying the toilet pretty hard.
If the caravan will be used mostly as a "stationary", a valuable feature may be its vestibule. If the model you’re interested in has such addition, it’s worth to spread it and check whether everything it’s O.K. with it.
The interior of the caravan
How to begin the inspection of the inside of caravan? From sniffing! Musty and other unpleasant odors suggest that something may rot. You may find decayed elements of flooring, furniture or walls (if they contain elements of wood). However, too nice and fresh scent may also be dangerous. Maybe the owner has made a quick refreshment of the interior to hide an unpleasant truth... In order to check this, it’s best to thoroughly inspect the corners of the caravan, look under the seats and cabinets.
Equally important are the rims of windows, doors and vents. Let’s also check the condition of the floor. If it bends, the caravan was probably very intensively used.
All devices in the caravan should be efficient. Currently, the standard is that the caravan is equipped with hot and cold water and a chemical toilet. It’s well to find out how many 230 V and 12 V sockets there are in the caravan. In practice, the important thing may be the capacity of water and wastewater containers.
To be sure whether the water system is leakproof, it’s good to pour some water into the container and then start the pump. The pump should work without any interruptions. If it’s not, it may indicate that the container is leaking.
Let’s not forget about the appropriate number of sleeping places. A good, space-saving solution will be fold-out beds, bunk beds or beds suspended from the ceiling.
It’s worth to devote some time to determine the parameters, which are the most important for us, and then carefully and without any haste choose the model which is in the best condition and contains a necessary equipment.