Thinking of buying a caravan?
Shopping around for one can be an exciting venture. However, a caravan purchase can be a major expense, so make sure you hold your horses and keep a level head. After all, caravans are essentially handmade, though not in the magnificent bespoke way.
What this means is that since the caravan industry is self-certifying, anyone with the cash to buy parts and accessories from their suppliers can start a “company” and assemble a couple of units for sale. This is why it’s so important to do your own quality checks.
Luckily, professional caravan dealerships with a long history of providing an honest, reliable and friendly service such as Lewis RV can guide you through the buying process with certainty. Whether purchasing a new caravan or used caravan, Lewis RV conducts full safety and structure checks before placing the caravan on the market.
To help you choose which caravan to buy and avoid buyer’s remorse, here’s a list of issues you need to be on the lookout for before buying.
Deciding which caravans to avoid
Conducting research is essential in learning as much as you can about a caravan model or the make you’re interested in. Check for common caravan issues, problems, criticisms or reviews regarding the brand and model you’re after.
Make sure you read all the comments carefully so you can discern which customers are being unnecessarily fussy or exaggerated. Take note of comments from people who appear to have genuine concerns, too.
Talk to family and friends who own caravans. If you happen to have a van and also hang around caravan parks, talk to caravan owners and listen to what they have to say about the particular brand they chose.
Purchasing from reputable brands such as Crusader Caravans will ensure your caravan is ready for the harsh Australian climate. Built with an understanding of our country roads and rough terrain, Crusader place pride in providing the ideal caravan for any lifestyle.
Ask questions at local caravan shows
Caravan & Camping shows are a great place to check out the different vans you’re interested in, all in one place. It doesn’t matter if it’s a show or you’re at a dealer’s yard, just make sure you examine important details such as the chassis construction, as well as the body fit and finish.
If you spot anything amiss such as cabinet doors that don’t shut tight and open smoothly, cheap chipboard benchtops, thin steel in the chassis or anything else that’s a deal-breaker, think twice about the caravan you’re considering. Make sure you check more than one unit of the same model and brand. This way, you’ll find out if the problems are isolated or come with every single caravan. Look for features such as Australian milled steel, piano hinges to doors and real timber ply in benchtops.
Caravan shows are also a great place to ask caravan dealers and manufacturers questions. This allows you to get all the important worries out and feel assured with your purchase. It’s also the perfect place to meet other caravan enthusiasts and ask them for recommendations on which caravans to avoid.
One more thing, caravan dealers and manufacturers such as Crusader Caravans sometimes offer special deals during caravan shows. This is a great time to pick up a special on a brand new caravan which can often include discounts or bonus caravan accessories. Seek out a sales team with sound product knowledge of their models.
Avoid caravans that can’t handle heavy loads
No matter how nice everything looks and how great the price is, you shouldn’t be buying a caravan that your tow vehicle can’t efficiently and legally tow.
The van’s aggregate trailer mass (ATM) must not exceed the maximum towing capacity of the tow vehicle. So, even if you have no intention of loading up a caravan to maximum capacity, it helps to know that you can when you have to without breaking the law.
These days, the tow ball mass (TBM) when unloaded (tare weight) is usually included in caravan compliance or identification plates. But since it’s hard to estimate how much the weight will increase when the van is loaded, you need to make sure the total weight is not in any way close to the tow vehicle’s maximum permitted TBM.
You also need to take note of the caravan payload.
For example, you should calculate how two full 90-litre water tanks and two gas bottles impact your payload. Reputable manufacturers such as Crusader will allow for the anticipated gas, water, fridge, BBQ, tools, etc. that a customer will add to the van, so Crusader Caravans have a generous payload allowance included in the ATM.
Remember that whatever add-ons you make after the van is built need to be subtracted from the payload, as well. This includes extra gas bottles, extra batteries, spare tyres, etc.
Avoid caravans with unclear warranty terms
After conducting your research and settling all other matters, it’s finally time to select your top finalists. But how do you choose from among these?
A few questions to ask include:
- What happens when certain components or parts are damaged when you drive on rough roads?
- Are appliances and accessories covered by the caravan manufacturer?
- Under what circumstances would you not get a replacement or refund for certain parts, appliances or accessories?
Once you’ve made a choice, it’s critical to read the contract carefully and thoroughly. Ask questions and clarify anything that’s unclear or ambiguous. If there’s anything you disagree with or find unreasonable, discuss it with the dealer.
Avoid lemon caravans with a reputable dealership
Shopping around for the caravan of your dreams can be exciting, but make sure to keep a cool head and dig deep to know which caravans to avoid. Don’t rush into anything and take your time to study different models and makes. Understand the fine print and conduct due diligence.
Of course, there’s an easier way to go about caravan shopping.
Crusader Caravans are always a good choice. Made from high-quality materials and built by professionals, you can count on easily addressing all the aforementioned issues with Crusader Caravans.
Choose a dealership you feel comfortable with, offering great aftersales services for your caravan.
Yes, you can buy lemon caravans from some dealers and it's important to be aware that not all dealers are reputable. There have been cases of people being sold lemons disguised as perfectly good caravans on the outside. So, if you're thinking of buying a caravan from a dealer, be sure to do your research first and make sure they're reputable. Otherwise, you might end up with a lemon! Caravan dealers must be licensed to buy and sell caravans and they must abide by the regulations of their license.
There is no single answer to this question as different people have different opinions on what makes a caravan reliable. Some people might say that the most reliable caravans are those that are made by well-established brands with a reputation for quality, while others might argue that smaller, more independent manufacturers offer more innovative and reliable products. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide what they value in a caravan and select the option that best suits their needs. Ask if the caravan brand is RVMAP accredited, whether they are owned and built in Australia and if they have been designed for Australian travel conditions.
In Australia, you are protected by Australian Consumer Law. This essentially means the caravan you purchase needs to be safe and fit for purpose. Second hand caravans may have some faults due to previous use, so check that they are nothing which will impact your use of the caravan before you buy becasue used caravans do not usually have any warranty from the dealership included, If you discover that your caravan has a major fault preventing it from being used the dealer you purchased the van from would be your first port of call. If they refuse to assist, your only option left may be contact Consumer Protection over the matter. Unfortunately, this difficult process highlights how important it is to do thorough research to avoid buying a lemon caravan.