If you’re looking to purchase or upgrade your camping vehicle, choosing between a new or used caravan can be challenging.
The choice depends on multiple factors, including budget, how often it’ll be used, short vs long term plans and what you need it for.
You’ll also need to consider space and size. Are you planning to use the caravan by yourself, your spouse or with the kids as well? Large caravans are usually better for longer travels, a one-off lap of Australia lasting several months or more. However, true off-road adventuring may benefit from a smaller caravan instead, such as these small caravans from Crusader Caravans.
New and used caravans both make the perfect travel companion when chosen properly. Here’s how to decide which option is right for you:
New caravans offer reliability
When you purchase new, you’re purchasing a pristine condition caravan with peace of mind and top driving capacity.
As the first owner, you can trust it’s in good shape. The quality isn’t jeopardised and if anything is sub-standard, there’s a right to warranty for the manufacturer to honour.
Typically, the newer the better. There are fewer maintenance costs and reliability is at its peak, with safety features and recent design advancements such as rear suspension.
Used caravans are budget-friendly
If budget is tight, used caravans can be a more cost-effective alternative.
For travellers planning to only use their caravan once or twice a year for a small getaway, buying pre-owned seems logical over buying brand new.
These less expensive options can also be ideal for new caravanners. If you’re looking to get your foot in the door and unsure how often it’ll be used yet, used caravans can still be decent and saves investing too much upfront.
But buyer beware – a used caravan may come with more problems. Before purchasing used, do your research and ask the seller questions. Find out how old the van is, whether there’s a maintenance history and when its last service was. Ask how many trips the caravan has been on and whether there’s any major problems that need to be fixed. It’s worthwhile having a second set of eyes look at it for any issues too.
Tip: Avoid private purchases if buying used. Instead, seek out a licensed dealer who will provide specialised advice.
New caravans have more choice
Buying new means you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to desired features, colours and size.
You can invest in one that suits your needs better, rather than settling on what’s only available second-hand. If there’s a specific layout, trim or feature option you need, new caravans are able to offer more.
Used caravans can be better for new caravanners
Caravanning lifestyles don’t come cheap.
But if you’re testing the travel options, still finding a sense of what’s comfortable or wanting an easier start to your new leisure lifestyle, buying used can still be beneficial.
When buying used consider:
- Maximum towing capacity of your vehicle and weights recorded on the caravan, e.g. ATM, Tare and ball weight
- Inspecting the caravan for signs of rust (including under the van), dents, scratches and other marks, and the condition of the tyres. Check the tow hitch, axle and awning function as well
- Looking at electrical, gas, brake and water tank lines
- Opening and closing doors, windows and cupboards to ensure they’re all in good working order
- Checking the registration papers
Follow this used caravan checklist when inspecting a used caravan.
New caravans include advanced features and technology
Before purchasing a new or used caravan, determine what your essential features are vs nice to haves.
Buying new offers the choice to custom build the layout of the caravan to your exact needs and desires. New caravans will also have more advanced features, technology and the comforts of recent design improvements, such as a full ensuite and gloss cabinetry.