Touring Caravan Buyers Guide
Are you looking to purchase a touring caravan guide? Touring caravans can be a great way to explore without many of the hassles you would get on a normal holiday. In saying this, take a read of our touring caravan buying guide so you are prepared!
Buying a caravan can be a big undertaking, especially if you’re a first-timer. Having our complete guide to buying a touring caravan in your arsenal should help you find your perfect home away from home.
Buying a touring caravan – your handy checklist
Before we get stuck into the nitty gritty of buying a touring caravan, here’s a handy checklist to help you get off on the right foot.
What touring caravan can you afford to buy?
When buying a new touring caravan, check your plans aren’t bigger than your purse. Set yourself a budget and stick to it.
Where’s the best place to buy a touring caravan?
There’s plenty of choice when you’re looking to buy a touring caravan.
- Caravan shows
Going to a caravan show is a good way to see lots of different models, brands and styles of caravan in the flesh, from the affordable to the most expensive. You could also pick up a special discount on the day.
- Caravan dealerships
Caravan dealerships usually boast a range of new and second-hand touring caravans. When it comes to price, there may be room for negotiation and even deals to be had on accessories like awnings and towing gear.
Always research the dealership to get a sense of their reputation (for example, reviews and NCC approved dealer status) and to see what aftersales services they might offer you.
- Buying online
Buying a touring caravan online can be good value for money but buying anything sight unseen can be risky. Do your research to make sure the seller is legitimate.
Look out for the NCC approved dealer logo on search results and make sure the caravan comes with a CRiS number so you can check against their database to make sure, among other things, that you are not buying a stolen vehicle.
New vs pre-loved touring caravans
Choosing whether to buy a new or second-hand touring caravan is about more than the price you pay. Both have their pros and cons, and which you go for will depend on what you want from your new home on wheels.
Pros of buying a new touring caravan
- Brand new: never used, spotlessly clean, no damage, wear or tear.
- Warranty: new caravans come with a manufacturer’s warranty.
- Modern and efficient: up-to-date technology and materials make new caravans more energy-conserving, weight efficient, and durable.
- Customisable: you can specify the features you’d like included in your caravan design.
Cons of buying a new touring caravan
- Cost: buying new is more expensive simply because it’s brand new and in pristine condition. Any non-standard features you add to the build of your caravan will bump the price up further.
- Depreciation: a new touring caravan loses around 15-20% of its value in the first year alone and will lose value every year after that.
- Wait time: you may have to wait for your caravan to be delivered, especially if it has to be built to your specification.
Pros of buying a pre-loved touring caravan
- Affordability: buying second-hand is great, especially if you’re on a budget.
- Greater choice: with the pick of older models, you’ll have a large variety of layouts and styles to choose from.
- Retained value: buying second-hand means the worst of the depreciation is already behind you, should you decide to sell it in the future.
- More room for manoeuvre: you’re more likely to be able to haggle over the price of a second-hand touring caravan than when you’re buying new.
- Extra features already fitted: if you’re lucky you could find a pre-loved caravan with all your preferred features already in place.
- Renovations: if you’re into DIY and want to custom-build your interior, buying second-hand means you can craft your caravan exactly as you envisioned.
Cons of buying a second-hand caravan
- Little to no warranty cover: dealers may offer up to 3 years warranty cover but private sellers are unlikely to offer any guarantees.
- Buyer beware: be sure to thoroughly inspect the condition of a second-hand caravan. Look out for evidence of damp (which can be costly to resolve), rust, and check the electrics, water and gas supplies, as well as the state of the tyres.
- Maintenance costs: an older second-hand caravan may need to be serviced more frequently, especially if it’s seen a lot of use over the years.
- Potential repair issues: the older, quirkier or more obscure your caravan is the harder it’s likely to be to source parts.
Does it matter how old a caravan is?
Technically, it shouldn’t matter how old a caravan is when you buy it, as long as you’ve carried out thorough background checks and you’re willing to accept the condition it’s in. It may also cost more to insure, depending on its age and condition.
If you have any concerns about the touring caravan you’re interested in buying, carry out a CriS check so you can see if it’s been stolen, written off or is still on finance.
(Remember to notify CriS that you are the new registered keeper when you buy a second-hand caravan.)
The National Caravan Council offers a Pre-Owned Pre-Purchase Inspection to check the quality of the caravan and provide you with a report before you buy.
The Caravan Club’s guide to buying second hand is also worth a read.
Can your car tow the caravan you want to buy?
It might sound obvious, but you don’t want to buy a touring caravan that’s too heavy for your car to tow.
Working it out can be complicated as your car’s towing capacity depends on its and your caravan’s relative weights. Take a look at our touring caravan towing guide for more detailed information on caravan towing laws and regulations.
Have you towed a touring caravan before?
Already having plenty of experience towing trailers, caravans, or driving large vehicles, might spur you to choose a larger caravan. However, if you’re a novice or only have limited experience, smaller, single-axle touring caravans may be more appealing.
What layout do you want in your touring caravan?
When your home isn’t your castle, it’s your caravan, so finding the perfect layout will probably be high on the list. It’s all about your personal needs and preferences.
Consider how many berths – sleeping areas – you want as well as how much living space you or your family will need. Kitchens, seating areas and bathrooms can also come in a variety of shapes and layouts, so make sure you have an idea of what you want before you begin the search.
Single vs twin-axle touring caravans
It’s important to think about whether a single or twin-axle touring caravan would work best for you, as there are pros and cons for each.
Single-axle touring caravan:
- Two wheels
- Cheaper to buy, run and maintain
- Lighter weight and more maneuverable
- Fits a standard UK pitch
- Can be towed by a greater range of vehicles
- Can be less stable as lighter weight and fewer points of contact with the road
- Easier and cheaper to store in a storage facility
Twin-axle touring caravan
- Four wheels
- More expensive to run, buy and maintain
- Heavier and less maneuverable
- Longer and may not fit in a standard UK pitch
- Can be towed by vehicles that can withstand great weight
- More stable as heavier with more points of contact with the road. Less likely to pitch or snake
- Harder and more expensive to store in a storage facility, which can make a big difference to the price you pay for touring caravan insurance
4) STORAGE AND SECURITY
How will you store your touring caravan?
It’s a good idea to think about how you intend to store your caravan as it can significantly impact the price of your insurance premiums.
Storage options range from keeping it on your street or driveway to housing it in a guarded caravan storage compound.
Read our touring caravan storage guide for more extensive advice on how to store your caravan and how the choices you make can affect the cost of your caravan insurance.
How will you secure your touring caravan?
While it may cost a bit to do, the better your caravan is secured, the more protected you are, and the more you could save on your caravan insurance premiums.
There’s a huge range of security devices you can buy from alarms, clamps and locks to the latest tracking systems. Not only will these devices make it harder for your caravan to be stolen but they can also act as a visible deterrent.
As a general rule, insurers’ minimum security requirements are that your caravan is fitted with a wheel clamp to fix your wheels in place and a hitch lock to prevent a thief hitching your caravan to their vehicle.
How will you protect your investment?
Once you’ve bought your dream touring caravan, you should think about protecting it. Surprisingly, insuring your caravan isn’t a legal requirement in the UK, but if you have plans to tour abroad, some countries insist you have caravan insurance in place.
Also, don’t forget, car insurance usually only gives you third-party cover when you’re towing the caravan, so won’t cover any damage to your caravan or theft on the road or when it’s stored.
You can choose specialist touring caravan insurance that protects your pride and joy against some or all of these events:
- Accidental damage
- Fire and theft
- Storm and flood damage
- Public liability
And, you can add extra cover to suit you including:
- Family cover – to cover you when your immediate family uses your caravan
- European cover – to cover you when you take your touring caravan to mainland Europe
- Breakdown cover – to recover your car and caravan if your car breaks down
- Contents cover – to cover your personal belongings when they’re in your caravan.
Whatever touring caravan you buy, insuring it is the best way to protect your investment and embark on every caravanning adventure with confidence. Get a free quote from InsureMy today to find a policy that works for you, not your insurer.