When buying a used or second-hand caravan, you need to be sure that you're not investing in a bucket of bolts. With this in mind, we've come up with eight key things to consider before you part with your cash:
Is there proof of ownership?
You need to be certain that the seller has the legal right to sell you this caravan and that it has not been stolen. Stolen caravans cannot be insured, so keep well away if you think the caravan has been illegally acquired.
The easy way to check is to use a service like CRiS or Theftcheck (if it was built before 1992) to verify the true ownership of the caravan.
Does it have a service history or handbook?
This is a reassuring measure to help you make up your mind, as a full service history will give you a strong indication of the state of the caravan and how well it has been looked after. If any repairs have been carried out, ask where and when they were done and inspect these areas closely to see if these problems are likely to come back.
Is it under warranty?
Newer caravans (under six years old) may still be eligible for repairs under the original bodyshell warranty.
Ask the seller if it is a transferrable warranty, and if they can prove that they have had the caravan serviced annually, as this is a key condition of most caravan warranties.
Can my car tow it safely?
Don't forget the 85% rule - your caravan should weigh no more than 85% of the kerb weight of your car for safe towing.
What's more, if your caravan is heavier than your car's maximum towing limit then you could face a run-in with the police.
How old and worn are the tyres?
Caravan tyres should be replaced every five years, regardless of the mileage, and you can check their age by looking for the Dot number printed on the tyre (For example: 0109 means the tyre was fitted in the first week of 2009).
Also, pay close attention to the state of the tyre's sidewall and tread - if the tread is less than 1.6mm across 3/4 of the width (which you can check using the edge of a 20p piece) then the tyre is not roadworthy.
What is the state of the running gear?
Speaking of roadworthiness, you should carefully check the state of key elements such as the brakes, hitch mechanism, chassis, stabilisers and shock absorbers (where relevant).
Check to see if the brake lights and indicator lights are working properly, and if you are still uncertain, ask to take it for a test tow.
Are there any signs of water ingress?
A leaky caravan is big problem, so make sure that there aren't any signs of the dreaded water ingress before you buy.
Pay particular attention to the window seals, as the Caravan Club reports that 40% of water ingress comes in through the window surrounds.
Buying a damp detector is also a good idea, as this can help you spot any spongy walls or delaminated floors.
Are all the interior features working?
Where possible, you should always try and check the water, gas and electrical appliances. If these aren't working, then you can use this information to negotiate a discount.
Last but not least, don't forget to check what type of caravan insurance you'll need.