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Buying a Motorhome – Beginner’s Guide

September 14, 2023
Motorhome insurance

If it’s time to answer the call of the open road and buy a motorhome, you’ll want to be sure you’re making the right choice. In this essential guide to buying a new or preloved motorhome you’ll find all the tips you need to choose your new travel companion wisely.

Man and Women outside a Motorhome

What we cover in this guide

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s covered in this guide in case you want to jump straight to the information you’re after.

1. What to check when buying a motorhome • A handy checklist for buyers
2. Budget • How much does a motorhome cost?
3. New vs second-hand motorhome • Should you buy a new or second-hand motorhome?
4. Specifications • What size motorhome do you want?
• What layout do you want?
5. Storage and security • How will you store your motorhome?
• How will you secure it?

What to check when buying a motorhome

There are lots of things to think about before you buy your motorhome and drive off into the sunset. To help you along the way, we’ve compiled a handy checklist of what to inspect when you buy a new or second-hand motorhome, so you don’t overlook anything before taking the plunge.

New motorhome buyer’s checklist

  1. Take a test drive – get a feel for the size, weight and handling of the make and model you’re after.
  2. Warranty – check whether your motorhome comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, and if so, how long it lasts.
  3. Equipment – check what’s included as standard and what you might need to pay for.
  4. Read the reviews – see what owners have to say about the type of motorhome you’re interested in.
  5. Dealership reputation – look into the dealership you’re planning to buy from – are they trustworthy and is their customer service good?
  6. Check everything works – take the time to check all the equipment and appliances on board are working perfectly before you commit.

Second-hand motorhome buyer’s checklist

  1. Inspect the bodywork carefully – look for dents, scratches or damage on the outside of the vehicle. Mismatched paint or bodywork may be a sign of shoddy repairs.
  2. Look out for rust – rust can build up anywhere but is particularly common on the frame and undercarriage.
  3. Tyres – check the age of the tyres and look for evidence of wear and cracking. Also make sure they’re right for the size and weight of the motorhome.
  4. Windows and doors – do they shut and lock properly?
  5. Damp and mould – keep an eye out for black spots in the bathroom and around doors, windows and roof lights. Check the walls are solid, aren’t warped and have a good sniff… a musty smell could be a sign of damp.
  6. Hire an independent inspector – this is the best way to check the motorhome is in good condition and the electric, gas and water systems all function well.
  7. Check the history – look at the V5C logbook, MOT certificate, VIN number and DVLA records to check everything is in order and the motorhome hasn’t been stolen, written off or there is outstanding finance arrangement on it.


How much could a motorhome cost?

How much a motorhome could cost depends entirely on what you’re looking for. The great thing about motorhomes is that there’s one out there for everyone.

If you’re thinking of buying new, the average price is between £47,000 and £80,000. Buying a second-hand motorhome is likely to save you several thousand pounds but check its condition carefully to make sure you’re getting value for money.

Compared to caravans, motorhomes are expensive but there are plenty of affordable models, particularly preloved motorhomes that offer all the comfort and style you could want.

The sensible thing to do is set yourself a budget and stick to it.

Should you buy a new or preloved motorhome?

It’s entirely up to you! Price will probably be the deciding factor on whether you buy a  new or preloved motorhome but there are pros and cons of both options.

Pros and cons of buying a new motorhome

  • Shiny and new: no mileage, no damage, no faults and not a speck of dirt.
  • Modern design: a brand-new motorhome will have the latest features, an efficient engine and be built from the most efficient and durable materials.
  • Under warranty: a new motorhome will come with a manufacturer’s warranty so if you do have any issues early on, they will be sorted at no cost to you.
  • Bespoke: if you have the budget, you can go to town and handpick the layout, features and appliances you’d like.
  • Hefty price tag: buying brand new will cost you. Any extras you include, like an awning or solar panels, will push the price up more.
  • Depreciation: generally, the value of a new motorhome will decrease by 30% in its first three years, with the biggest drop in the first year.
  • Waiting time: if you go for a coach build or customise your motorhome with added extras, you could be waiting some time before it’s ready.

Pros and cons of buying a second-hand motorhome

  • Fraction of the price: the older and more used a preloved motorhome is, the bigger the savings it can bring.  
  • Less VAT: you don’t have to pay as much VAT on second-hand motorhomes as you do new.
  • Benefit from depreciation: buying a three-year-old motorhome will not only be cheaper but save you from the steepest drop-off in your motorhome’s value.
  • Extras for free: you benefit from any add-ons installed by the previous owners included in the price.
  • High mileage is less of a concern: motorhomes tend to clock up their miles on motorways and usually have relatively low annual mileage compared to cars.
  • Renovation opportunities: with the upfront price reduced, buying second-hand may be a cheaper way to custom design your motorhome. Better yet, you don’t get caught up in the manufacturer’s wait times.
  • Inherited or hidden issues: take care to thoroughly inspect a second-hand motorhome before you buy it. Rust and damp can cause costly problems down the line and it’s advised to have an independent inspector check the electrics, gas and water systems for faults. Be sure to check the tyres too.
  • No warranty protection: it’s unlikely second-hand motorhomes will have any warranty cover, except perhaps if you buy from a professional dealer.
  • Higher maintenance costs: second-hand motorhomes with a few years under their belts may need more frequent servicing or repairs due to past wear and tear.
  • Background checks: make sure the motorhome you’re buying isn’t stolen, written off or under outstanding finance.

Think about specifications

Choosing the right sized motorhome

There are different classes of motorhome, so you’re sure to find one that suits your needs.

  • Class A
    If you’re after a motorhome with plenty of space for friends and family and all the comforts of home, this is the one for you. Class A motorhomes are big and built on a heavy-duty chassis so can be fuel hungry and tricky to pitch at some campsites.
  • Class B
    Class B is reserved for campervans. There are significant differences between motorhomes and campervans  but in simple terms a campervan is a smaller, more basic motorhome.
  • Class C
    These are the middle ground between class A and B motorhomes. Built on a van and cab chassis, they usually sleep between two and six people and tend to be less luxurious and smaller than their class A siblings.

Do I need a special licence to drive a motorhome?

You’ll need a special licence for a motorhome if it exceeds the 3,500kg weight limit for a standard driving licence. For more information about the rules around driving a motorhome, read our motorhome legal requirements guide .

Choosing a motorhome layout

Before deciding on the layout of your motorhome, think about what you want to use it for and how comfortable and spacious you want it to be. For example, if you want to accommodate friends and family, look for multiple berths or convertible beds.

Also think about what you’d like to have in your kitchen and bathroom as a minimum and what you’re willing to compromise on. Renting motorhomes with varied layouts is a great way to narrow down your likes and dislikes.

Storage and security

How will you store your motorhome?

There are two important reasons why you need to decide how you’ll store your motorhome safely and securely:

  • Rising thefts –motorhomes are an attractive target for thieves, with thefts rising in recent years.
  • Insurance – how you store your motorhome when it’s not in use can have a knock-on effect on the price of your insurance.

Storage options range from keeping your motorhome on your street or drive, to housing it at a dedicated secure storage site.

For more information on how to store your motorhome, check out our motorhome storage guide

What security features does your motorhome come with?

It’s always worth checking what security features your motorhome comes with as there is no universal minimum for manufacturers. Older, second-hand motorhomes can also vary greatly from new.

Motorhome insurance is mandatory and insurers may require you to have certain security devices, such as an alarm, wheel clamp or tracking system in place. The more secure your motorhome, the more you could save on the cost of motorhome insurance .

For top tips on securing your motorhome and saving money on your premiums, read our motorhome security guide .

Get the lowest price guaranteed on motorhome insurance

A motorhome is a sizeable investment that you’ll want to protect before taking to the road. We offer specialist motorhome insurance from a range of trusted providers – and with our lowest price guarantee, you can find a policy that works for you. Take your pick of trusted motorhome insurers and get a free quote today.

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