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Checklist For Those Looking For A Used Caravan

Apr 11, 2008
Once you have seen the magazine pictures and realised how much fun caravanning can be it is hard to resist the urge to fork out for a caravan straight away. It may not however be worth buying new right away; after all, you may not fully understand the world of caravanning and a new caravan will be expensive. At this point you should probably consider looking at a used caravan as a more affordable and worthwhile option.

When you are looking at used caravans there are certain things you must remember so you do not get hoodwinked into buying a disgraceful example of a towed home. What follows is a checklist of the problems that can regularly occur in a caravan and issues that should be studied in detail before any purchase is made.

First and foremost the biggest problem a caravan faces is damp; this is especially true when looking at used caravans. It is important to check all of the corners, the bed boxes and lockers thoroughly for signs of damp and moisture. A useful tool that can be used for this purpose is a damp meter, available at most home and DIY stores. Check the sturdiness of cupboard and door handles by giving them a strong pull; loose fitting can sometimes mean that damp has got into the caravan. If there is a problem with damp, this used van is probably worth walking away from; you can sometimes end up paying twice as much for repairs than the original price.

As part of the damp prevention come the seals. A caravan may have many different types of seals used in its construction. The three most common of these seals are acrylic, silicone and oil-based. Ask the former owner or the dealer when the seals were last replaced; the lifespan of some seals is twenty years but others will only last five. Poor seals mean s that damp will ingress into the caravan easily. Check for rust on frames and screws and any damaged bits of sealant, the price of a new seals throughout the outfit can be as much as a thousand pounds.

It may seem obvious but the door and lockers should be checked so that they shut properly and can be locked securely. Check over the hinges and whether the doors still fit snugly into their frames. It may seem a minor expense but finding replacement doors, especially if the used van is somewhat old can be difficult. The same can be said for the windows and window frames; as an even more expensive outlay, the price of new windows can start from around 180 pounds.

As important as the doors are the floors of a caravan. Check for any signs of sagging and any areas that may seem weak. The most important places to check are near the door, around the kitchen and the living quarters as these are the areas used most frequently. If sagging is evident the usual procedure is to inject rigidity foam into the affected area to increase strength. This process is not cheap however and should be carried out by a professional, if it appears the used caravan that you are looking at has faulty floors, walk away.

The chassis and hitch mechanism should probably have been checked over already but pay particular attention to the easy movement of the mechanism. Ensure that lubrication is evident and the rubber gaiter that lies between the push bar and A-frame is in good condition. Checking that the chassis of the caravan is in no way bent or damaged, it is the skeleton of the outfit and as such should be sturdy.

By following this checklist you should be able to find a used caravan to suit your purposes. There are plenty of good caravans out there and finding one is only a matter of time. With a little savvy and this advice, years of caravanning pleasure should only be a short drive away.
About the Author
Travel expert Thomas Pretty looks into factors for consideration when looking at a used caravan for first time buyers.
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