Tips for first time caravan buyers
Discover our top tips for caravan newbies - we’ll give you all the info you need to make the right purchase...
So you’re looking to buy your first caravan - what an exciting time! Just think of all the adventures you’ll have in it and all the places you’ll visit. Owning a caravan not only gives you the means to get away from it all on a regular basis, but also the incentive; once you’ve made the purchase, you’ll want to make the most of it!
Whether you’re single, a couple or a family, caravanning will offer you something great. There’s something liberating about being able to just take off for the weekend, because once your caravan is kitted out, you’ll be able to do just that. Endless planning, organising and packing for weekends away will be a thing of the past.
But first, you need to buy the all-important caravan! There is a lot to consider, as you’ll want to ensure that you’re buying the right caravan for you in every way to avoid the hassle of having to exchange it in a year’s time if it just doesn’t meet your needs. Our top tips below will tell you all you need to know to get your purchase right first time...
Set a budget
How much are you able to spend? This is an important question because it will enable you to focus on the types of caravan in your price range. If you’re looking at new caravans, your budget will determine which manufacturers will be open to you.
£12,500 – £15,000 will make budget family caravans and mid-range 2 berths accessible to you.
£15,000 – £20,000 would give you the choice of suitably equipped family touring caravans with the latest layouts.
£20,000 – £25,000 could buy you a luxury tourer from one of the big manufacturers, offering high levels of equipment and furnishings.
£25,000 and above will get you a bespoke luxury caravan from a manufacturer of your choice.
New or pre-owned?
This is one of the biggest things to decide. If your budget is on the lower side, it may be worth considering a pre-owned caravan as it would enable you to get a much higher spec model, giving you more creature comforts. It may also get you a more spacious model which would be beneficial, particularly for families. The other advantage of opting for a pre-owned caravan is that the sharpest drop in value will have passed, meaning that you won’t feel the pinch of that initial loss!
If you decide to go for a new caravan, you’ll be able to tailor it to suit your needs and wants exactly. You can go for a range and model that has the equipment and furnishings that you like and that match your requirements. There are so many options on offer that you’ll be spoilt for choice! It will also be nice to know that everything is new and has never been used, it’s all for your enjoyment! They’ll be no wear and tear and it won’t have any ‘miles on the clock’ as such as it’ll be brand new!
When’s the best time to buy?
There are a couple of times of year that are renowned for being better times to buy, but that said, many dealerships offer regular special offers throughout the year, particularly in line with any open weekend events they may be hosting, so it’s always worth keeping an eye on your preferred dealer’s website and following them on social media to stay informed.
Statistics show that a good time to buy a new caravan may be during the winter months when dealers may be experiencing lower sales due to people not thinking about caravanning so much during the colder period and being busy with Christmas festivities.
It has been suggested that the best times to buy a pre-owned caravan are when dealers get a flux of models being traded in during the summer from people preparing to buy a new one in September when the new ranges are released. The winter months are also a good time to buy pre-owned caravans as not many people are thinking about them at this time, so you could have your pick of the bunch.
Consider your layout
Purchasing a caravan with the right layout for you and your family is absolutely essential. It’ll make living in it a pleasure and make life a lot easier! Put a lot of thought into the various decisions that need to be made. How many berths do you need? What configuration of beds would you prefer? Doubles, singles, bunk beds? Would you like beds that are static or foldaway? Think about what will work for your party.
Would you prefer to have the washroom in the middle or at the end of the caravan? Do you want the beds to be together or separate? How big does the kitchen need to be? Do you want a dining area? How much seating do you need? And don’t forget storage - vital to ensure a neat caravan and peaceful holiday!
Before you purchase a caravan, you will need to check that your car is able to tow a caravan and if so, what your towing weight limit is. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) will tell you the weight of your car, and as a novice tower it is recommended that the weight of your caravan does not exceed 85% of the weight of your car.
If you passed your driving test on or after 1 January 1997, you cannot exceed a combined weight of 3,500kg, so note down your maximum combined weight and keep this in mind when browsing possible models. For example, the weight of a Ford S-Max starts at 1,784kg, so that combined with a caravan weighing 85% of that weight would make it a legal post 1997 towing combination. Those who passed their driving test prior to 1 January 1997 are able to tow up to 8,250kg.
Spec must haves
Before going out to look at any caravans, sit down and write a list of all the features that are vital. Here are a few things to think about:
Kitchen equipment - size of fridge, do you need a freezer, full oven or microwave?
Type of heating system you’d prefer
Number and positioning of electrical sockets
Type of upholstery and interior styling
Amount of kitchen worktop space
Do you need longer beds or seating?
Amount of storage you’d need as a minimum
Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a few models, read lots of reviews of each. This will give you an insider's view of the pros and cons of each model from people who have used and lived in them and may highlight limitations of a model that could rule it out for you. Hopefully doing your research will avoid any disappointment in your new caravan and eliminate the need to trade it in during the first year, which would be costly.
Extras to keep in mind
Even though you haven’t even bought your new caravan yet, remember to factor in the costs of the possible extras you will need to purchase such as a starter pack, fresh and waste water tanks if not included, a cover or storage costs and insurance.
Advantages of buying from a dealer
Look for an NCC-approved dealer and you’ll know you’re buying from a quality dealership.
You should receive excellent customer care and a professional service. Everything will be taken care of for you.
You will receive a warranty with your caravan purchase that will give you peace of mind.
Choose a reputable, quality dealer. Winchester Caravans has 4.7/5 on Google reviews.
Choose a dealer based on recommendation - it will put you at ease about purchasing from them if someone else has had a positive experience with them.
Pop into our showroom!
Taking a look around a showroom is a great way to get a feel for the type of caravan you’re after. You can discover a lot about the type of caravan that would your suit needs just by having a nose around a few! Winchester Caravans are an NCC-approved dealership so you know you’d be buying from the best. Our friendly and experienced staff can advise you on all aspects of caravan buying and give you some food for thought.
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