Buyers Guide to Pre-owned caravans Part 2


The second-hand caravan marketplace is a vast world. With such a wide diversity of caravans for sale, it can be quite overwhelming to find the perfect holiday home on wheels.

In my previous blog I discussed some areas to consider when purchasing a second-hand caravan. In this second part, I discuss more areas away from the caravan, but will need some thought too. So, like before grab your glass of wine, put your feet up and read on.

The Car

Apart from the obvious tow bar, the tow car should also be a suitable match for the chosen caravan. If the car and caravan are perfectly matched, the towing experience will be vastly smoother than one that is mismatched and a heavily mismatched outfit can also be quite dangerous too.

It is recommended that the weight of a loaded caravan is 85% of the cars kerb weight. This process of understanding the caravan loaded weight and the car weight is known as “Outfit Matching” This is not a legal requirement but a recommendation.

As a main dealer we subsribe to towsafe one of the largest outfit matching software suppliers in Britain. If you are unsure or would like some information our sales team our always happy to talk you through this.

You will also find alot more information relating to this on our Caravan Towing Weights page of our main main website.

Buyers Tip - A safe match = A much better start to your holiday

Driving Licenses

For drivers who were issued their driving licence on or after January 1st 1997 they can tow a caravan where the total MAM (maximum authorised mass) of the car and caravan do not exceed 3,500kg. For example, you can tow a caravan of 1500kg if your cars gross vehicle weight is 2,000kg or less. If this cannot be achieved, don’t panic. Drivers can take an additional “Car and trailer driving test” to gain the BE category on their driving licence which will grant extra towing privileges and higher weight limits.

For drivers who passed their driving licence before the 1st January 1997 are not affected by these restrictions and can tow a combination up to 8,250kg MAM

However, in all cases check the back of your driving license to see what you can tow. And if in doubt visit for more information.

The best time to buy

When to buy a caravan is possibly the trickiest question to answer. But here is a general rule of thumb. Private sales are generally buoyant at the end of the summer season. It’s a buyers’ market in Autumn as folk are either moving on from caravans or upgrading their outfit.

Buying from a dealer is slightly different. New models are generally released to the trade in the summer and released to the public in late summer, early autumn. This means that dealers may have great deals in the Autumn or Winter on new stock. Due to the infux of part exchange caravans during this period we feel the period between January - April is always a good time to buy. At this time you will have alot of choice on the forecourt and it means a slightly better deal can be nagotiated with the dealer.

But really, how much will it cost?

Buying the caravan is not the only financial outlay you will need to consider. Once you own the caravan you will need to insure it, possibly pay for storage and in some newer models have a tracker subscription too. On top of these hidden costs, you may want to join a national club such as the Caravan and Motorhome Club or the Camping and Caravanning Club to take advantage of their great campsites and member benefits.

Another consideration after purchasing and to add piece of mind is to have the caravan serviced too, this will check all the safety items and the mucky bits of the caravan and give the new owner a full report on the mechanical state of the caravan. Buying from a dealer like ourselves will take this cost out however as all our caravans come fully valeted and with a full PDI prior to collection.

Buying from a dealer will also give you warranty cover for a period of time depending on the age of your purchase giving you peace of mind. Read about our warranty cover here. 

Finally, consider that it is not just the caravan that has hidden costs. You may need to have a tow bar fitted and increase any breakdown cover to include the caravan. If you do need to have a tow bar fitted, don’t forget to inform the car insurance company of the modification to the car. This may also have an impact on your insurance premiums.


And finally, where to go for more advice, help and tuition? There is a selection of great publications. Caravan Magazine & Practical Caravan are great reads for inspiration, tips and advice, but don’t forget the national clubs too. They both host towing experience classes to gain useful knowledge on towing and manoeuvring. Both clubs also have online forums, monthly magazines and have a great wealth of information online too.

Social Media has recently had a huge explosion of top tips and fellow caravanners adding their experiences of using Caravans. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have all got valuable content, so it is well worth checking out.

If your ever unsure asking for advice does not cost a penny, all our team are always happy to help and give your plenty and fair, impartial advice.

Click the link for our selection of pre-owned caravans  for sale at Winchester Caravans.

We hope you find the above information useful, If you have any questions and need help with the purchase of your first caravan please do not hesitate in contacting one of the Sales team at Winchester Caravans.

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