What is caravan running gear?
Put simply, running gear is everything that a caravan needs in order for it to be road legal. This includes the hitch head, brakes, brakeaway cable, lights, stabilisers and the suspension.
It's crucial that your caravan has all these items in good working order, otherwise you can attract unwanted attention from the police, face a costly repair bill and even end up with points on your driving license. What's more, caravans without adequate running gear are unlikely to be covered by most touring caravan insurance policies.
Some items can be fixed up for a small cost, but others can render a caravan a complete write-off, so it's important to know exactly what to look for before considering buying a used caravan.
Getting a professional's opinion
If you are thinking about buying privately, it's worth checking your used caravan in to a local dealer for a service before you tow it away on your first holiday. A dealer will be able to carry out all the essential checks and spot any potential problems before they ruin your holiday. A full NCC-approved service costs around £200 for a single-axle caravan and £235 for a twin-axle caravan.
It's also worth noting that these kinds of checks can't simply be carried out by a car mechanic when your towcar is serviced - they need to be carried out by a specialist caravan workshop. These service inspections should be carried out on an annual basis, not just in the interests of safety, but also to keep your caravan insurance valid.
Whether you're buying privately or through a dealer, these simple checks can help you spot the difference between a happy holiday caravan and an expensive liability.