What to Look For in Your Next Caravan

Whether you’re going for a weekend getaway or planning a long trip to celebrate your retirement, holidaying with a caravan is a great option that gives you that “open road” feeling with all the modern conveniences you’ll need at your fingertips. Think shower, a warm bed and a kitchen to prep your meals – pure bliss!

For this reason, caravans are becoming an increasingly popular option for holiday chasers around Australia who are keen to see what this great southern land has to offer. It’s also more cost effective and allows you to visit locations in your own backyard that you may never have considered before. 

But before you pack your bags and get your itinerary sorted for life on the road, here are some things you’ll need to consider when buying your next caravan.

Old vs. new

Buying a brand-new caravan can simplify your purchase process as you won’t have to spend money on initial maintenance or upkeep. If you’re financially capable, buying a new caravan may be the best option for you if you’re after an inspection-free purchase. However, if you’re looking to go second-hand, there will be other considerations that you’ll need to take into account. We’ll list them below:

Caravan history

When purchasing your second-hand caravan, be sure to ask the seller about the full details of the vehicle’s history. Not only will the age of the caravan affect the price but it’s important to know where it’s travelled in the past (sandy locations may affect the chassis), any damage it’s experienced (such as unintended accidents/collisions) as well as where it’s been stored when not in use (i.e. undercover or outside in the harsh elements).

These points may affect the price of the caravan and may allow you to negotiate on the costs. By delving into the issue of rectifying any potential damage and how to offset those repairs against the cost of the caravan, you may get more value for your money.

The chassis and the axle

It’s important to check the condition of the chassis and axle when buying a second-hand caravan.

The chassis is the body of the wheeled mechanism that helps support the caravan. As this will carry the full weight of the caravan and your items, be sure to check that there are no cracks that may lead to further damage when you’re on the road.

The axle of the caravan is the mechanism that allows for the wheels to turn while driving. Be sure to inspect this too to see if there are any cracks or extreme rust that will hinder the wheels from turning or functioning properly. Needless to say, should these crucial components not work to their full potential or break down while you’re on vacation, it may be costly to fix.

Handbrake and hitch effectiveness

After you’ve inspected the main features under the caravan, be sure to check how well the handbrake of the caravan works. This will be located just near the hitch and will help you keep the caravan secure on uneven surfaces, when you stop for the night or you unhitch yourself from your car.

While you’re there, be sure to see how effective the hitch is at moving freely as this will ensure that you can manoeuvre through sharp turns without getting stuck.

Internal functionality

Once you’ve determined if the main features of the caravan allow for the safe movement and placement of the caravan, you can now inspect the inside to see if it functions well and meets all your personal needs.

While it’s important to ensure that the toilet, sink and whitegoods within the caravan work well, be sure to also inspect the electrical equipment and gauges to check that they’re fully functioning so that they don’t inconvenience you later down the track.

Don’t forget to also consider the awnings (if they’re available), the caravan brake lights (and internal lights) as well as functional things such as door latches and locks. As long as the main components are working, superficial things like scratches on the surface won’t matter as much.

Get it professionally assessed

If you’re not confident in performing the aforementioned checks yourself, you can book an appointment with the Caravan Council of Australia (CCA). The CCA can conduct professional and independent Compliance Audits for caravans and camper-trailer owners to ensure your vehicle is up to standard. While it isn’t mandatory to perform this, it may give you peace of mind.

The right caravan insurance

If you’ve found the perfect caravan for your holidays – preloved or new – the final step before getting on the open road is to find an insurance policy that will give you added protection.

Find out more about CCI’s Caravan and Trailer Insurance by calling 1300 655 003 or online. We’ll help set you up for your great escape to see all that Australia has to offer from behind the wheel.