Should You Buy A Secondhand Caravan?

If you’re new to the world of caravans, or if you’re just looking for a bargain, you might have started looking into the option of buying a second hand caravan. Read on to find out what factors you should consider when buying a used caravan and where you can buy it from.

Factors to consider

While buying a second hand caravan will be substantially cheaper than buying a brand new one, it’s still a big financial investment to make! There are a number of questions you should ask yourself before you start shopping around, to ensure the pre-loved caravan you’re looking at has what you need:

  • How frequently will you use the caravan?
  • What size caravan do you need?
  • What are the essential features you need in a caravan? And which are the features you’d like, but can live without?
  • How much money do you want to spend in total on the caravan? And if you’re getting a loan, how much do you want to spend in monthly repayments?
  • Are you going to be driving off road? Or sticking to the highway?

Where should you buy your used caravan from?

Once you’ve decided you want to buy a second hand caravan, it’s time to start shopping! You’ll likely end up buying your caravan through either a dealership or a private seller

Dealership

Dealership prices are usually higher than private sellers, and tend to have less room for negotiating. However, dealerships normally make up for this by offering a range of other services like warranties and pre-pickup servicing. They also provide a higher guarantee of quality than private sellers do, and will give you more peace of mind that if something goes wrong with the caravan, you can get in touch.

Private seller

If you choose to buy your caravan from a private seller, you’ll likely be able to get a better price, and there is normally ample opportunity to negotiate price. The downside of this is that they are not legally obligated to sell you a roadworthy caravan in the same way that dealerships are. For this reason, it is especially important to thoroughly check the caravan before you buy it - and if you’re not confident checking it yourself, you can get an expert to inspect it. Remember also that if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is! You can visit popular caravan sale websites to compare the market and get an idea of prices. 

Advantages of buying a used caravan

You can save a lot of money

One of the biggest advantages of buying a used caravan is that you have the potential to save a lot of money by buying a caravan that is even just a year or two old. Regardless of whether you choose to buy it through a private seller or a dealership, used caravans can give you the ability to buy a great caravan at an even better price. Additionally, you’ll probably find that many of the used caravans on the market have only been very lightly used, as many caravan owners would have taken them on holiday just once or twice a year.

Perfect for new caravanners

If you’ve never owned a caravan before, buying one second hand can be a great way to get your foot in the door, without the need to invest too much right away. This is especially a great option if you’re not sure how often you’ll be using the caravan. If you end up loving it and wanting to upgrade, you can always re-sell your caravan and buy a new one (and Driva can help you finance it!).

Drawbacks of buying a used caravan

Can’t be entirely sure of the history of the caravan

One of the main drawbacks of buying a second hand caravan, like any second hand vehicle, is that you can’t be entirely sure of the history of the caravan. While dealerships rely heavily on reputation, so they are unlikely to sell you a lemon, there’s still a chance that there are issues with the caravan that even they don’t know about. If you’ve decided to buy a used caravan, you might not have the confidence in it that you would with a brand new caravan. Additionally, depending on where you buy it from, your used caravan might not come with a warranty.

Fewer options and less choice

Another drawback of buying a used caravan is that you won’t have the same ability to modify your caravan that you would if you had bought it new. If you’re buying a brand new caravan from a dealership, for example, you normally have quite a bit of choice over the configuration of the caravan as well as the additional features that come with it. With a second hand caravan, however, you’ll have to compromise some of these features in order to get a lower price.

Tips for buying a used caravan

View your future caravan in person

This is especially important if you’re buying your caravan from a private dealer, but no matter the source, it’s a good idea to view your future caravan in person. While viewing the caravan on the internet can save a lot of time and give you a great idea of what the caravan is like, it’s not until you see it in person that you can be confident that it’s the right caravan for you. 

Ask the right questions

When you’re going to view the caravan, or you’re in discussions around price, there are a number of questions you should ask the seller, regardless of whether they’re a private seller or from a dealership.

  • How old is the caravan?
  • Are there any major problems with the caravan that you’re aware of?
  • How frequently has it been serviced?
  • Does it come with full service history?
  • Has it been on many trips? And where/how recently were these trips?
  • Where has the caravan been stored? (ie: undercover or outside)

It’s important to bear in mind that if you’re buying your caravan from a private seller, they might not be completely transparent in answering these questions, just like if you were buying any other vehicle from a private seller. But it definitely doesn’t hurt to ask! If you’re buying your caravan from a dealership, you can be quite confident that you’re receiving accurate information, and also that the caravan has been regularly serviced and has a warranty. 

Complete all the necessary checks

You’ll want to complete a thorough interior and exterior check of the caravan before you commit to buying it. If you’re not confident enough in your caravan knowledge to do this by yourself, you can ask a professional mechanic to come and have a look. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things you’ll definitely want to check:

  • Scrapes and dents (if any, make sure you determine whether they’re superficial or if they’re contributing to a bigger problem)
  • Appliances (check gas and water connections, ensure that all appliances work, check any seals where applicable)
  • Doors (do door locks work properly and have correct keys?)
  • Roof (check for any signs of damage or leaks)
  • Frame (knock the wall to check for hollow spots and cracks, investigate overall shape and check for bends)
  • Water stains (check to see if there are any leaks or water stains suggesting previous leaks)
  • Seals (inspect the seals in all walls and windows)
  • Bathroom and kitchen (check taps, toilet, sink etc works, inspect smoke alarms and ensure hot water works)

If you’re able to, have a look at the caravan’s logbook. This will give you an insight into how far the caravan has travelled and the maintenance it has undergone. 

Before purchasing your caravan, it can be a good idea to request a Personal Property Securities Register search, especially if you’re buying it through a private seller. For just $2, you can determine whether it has been written-off, stolen or registered anywhere else in Australia. 

Take it for a test drive

Finally, if you’re able to take it for a test drive, make sure you do! Until you take it for a test drive, you won’t be able to assess how it feels driving around corners and on different terrain. You’ll also want to check how easy it is to hitch and unhitch the caravan from your car.

Frequently asked questions

Is there warranty on second-hand caravans?

This will vary between caravans and depend on where you’re buying your caravan from. Often if you buy your caravan from a dealership it will come with a warranty and if you buy it from a private seller it will not. However, there are exceptions to this, so make sure you check with the seller. 

Do caravans hold their value?

Like any other vehicle, caravans depreciate over time. However, caravans lose the most value in the first few years after purchasing it, which means that if you’re buying a used caravan, it will depreciate slower than if you had bought it brand new. 

Can I negotiate the price when buying a used caravan?

This will depend on where you’re buying the caravan from, but normally private sellers are more open to negotiation than dealerships. If you are going to negotiate, it can be helpful to do a bit of research online to see what price similar caravans sell for, giving you an advantage going into the negotiation process.

Can I get a caravan lease?

If you’re still not 100% about buying a caravan, you could always lease a caravan first to figure out if it’s the right move for you, and then decide if you want to purchase a caravan later on.

If I have a bad credit score, am I still able to get a loan?

Each lender has different lending criteria, so it’s hard to say how much of an impact your credit score will have on your ability to get a loan. For some lenders, your credit score will have an impact on your interest rate (the higher your score, the better interest rate you’ll be able to access).

When you apply for personalised quotes with Driva, we’ll run a ‘soft credit check’, which means that your credit score won’t be impacted at all. Once you’ve chosen your preferred lender, submitted your application to Driva and we’ve made sure you’re likely to be approved, we’ll then share your credit score with your lender to complete the loan process. 

If you want to find out what your credit score is, you can access your detailed credit history for free with our friends at Equifax. You can also reach out to us directly to have a chat about your credit score and how you can improve it. Email us at hello@driva.com.au or give us a call on 1300 755 494. 

Summing Up

Buying a caravan is a huge financial investment, so if you’re looking to save some money, or are buying a caravan for the first time, a second hand caravan can be a great option. If you are looking for a loan to help finance your set of wheels, Driva can help!

To get started with a caravan loan, you’ll just need to tell us a few details about you and the caravan you’re looking to buy, and we’ll be able to give you personalised rates from our panel of over 30 lenders - and all without affecting your credit score. Calculate how much you could save in just a few minutes and get started today. Once you’ve received your personalised rates and decided which lender you want to go with, the approval process normally takes between 2 hours and 2 days depending on the lender. 

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