As with any large purchase, there is a range of considerations that should be taken into account when buying a caravan. How often and where it will be used is a big one – not all caravans are built to go off-road – as is the equipment you’ll need to tow it.
Caravan Weighing WA Owner Gary Thorn said compatibility between a caravan and towing vehicle was of paramount importance. “The best way (depending on budget) is to buy your caravan first, then buy your tow vehicle,” he said.
“For new units, it is illegal for the dealer to sell a caravan without checking the tow vehicle compliance.”
Mandurah Caravan & RV Centre Sales Executive Brad van Hemert said compiling a list of key personal requirements was a good start when considering a purchase.
By creating a list of ‘must haves’, you can narrow the field down considerably, saving you time and a lot of confusion.
Mr van Hemert also recommended buyers consult experts in the field.
“The best thing to do if you’re out and about shopping at caravan dealers is give the salesperson the brief on what you are looking for,” he said.
When attempting to differentiate between on-road, semi off-road or full off-road caravans, the size of the A frame is a big indicator.
“If you’re looking at an on-road model, this section would normally be made from a steel section measuring four inches by two inches,” Mr van Hemert said.
“Whereas, in most semi off-road or full off-road units this would be six inches by two inches, giving you a bit more strength for travelling on bumpy dirt roads.”
If you don’t want to make the leap and buy a caravan of your own just yet, there are alternatives.
“There are plenty of caravans for hire on Camplify,” Care-A-Van Director Jamie Reeves said.
“Perhaps find a model you are considering purchasing and hire something similar on Camplify to test it out and see if it suits you.”
Care-A-Van Director Steve Martin said getting an expert to assess a caravan prior to purchase was a smart move when buying second hand.
“Buying second hand means you need to be more thorough in checking what the caravan provides – it might turn out you are going to be given a caravan with some downsides,” he said.
“Bent axles, water leaks and other issues are sometimes covered up. Closely inspect all roof and interior panels and look for signs of new paint or water staining on the walls and ceiling. Check the silicone sealing on the outside of the van for cracking as well.
“Vans should be checked annually for condition of the sealant. If there are signs of cracking or peeling, the areas should be stripped back and resealed with the correct sealant.”
Mr van Hemert said while there was a lot to think about, finding the right caravan didn’t have to be stressful.
“Do your homework first and it will make your buying decision a lot easier,” he said.
“Remember, you’re more than likely going to spend a lot of time in your caravan, so you want to be happy with it while you’re out enjoying our great country.”