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How to Buy a Caravan

April 21, 2022
How to Buy a Caravan

It's never been easier to search, find, and buy a caravan in Australia. However, you shouldn't take a caravan purchase lightly, as it will be one of your more significant life investments. There are countless things to consider, such as the size of the caravan, the appropriate cost, and the type of caravan that is right for you.

Whether you're buying a second-hand caravan or a brand new one, here are our top tips to make your experience of buying a caravan easier.


Set a Budget

Before you can jump into buying the caravan of your dreams, you must set a budget. You have to be realistic and consider two main financial costs: purchase price and running expenses. Everyone's purchase budget is different, and it all comes back to your financial situation. Unless you have been planning and saving for this moment for a very long time, we recommend consulting a financial advisor to discuss whether you need a loan or would like to sell your house and travel in your new caravan indefinitely.

The next thing you need to think about is the running expenses of your caravan. There are several ongoing costs of buying a caravan that you should factor into your budget. These costs include registration fees, insurance premium, petrol, maintenance and repairs, storage, generator costs, and potential modification costs.


Choose the Right Type of Caravan

It is vital to set some guidelines for yourself about what you need in your caravan, how you intend to use it and discover which type of options suits your needs best:

  • Consider who will be using the caravan to determine the size and layout of your caravan - the needs of a retired couple will be different to a young family with three kids
  • Write your list of must-haves - be very specific in your list and consider things such as the bed layout, kitchen dimensions, off-road capabilities, solar panel, tandem axle, and bike racks
  • Write your list of deal-breakers - these might be no pop-tops, caravan weight limits, number of beds and the ensuite style
  • Finally, take the time to inspect all your caravan options available on the market - you have your conventional caravan, tent trailers, pop-top caravans, pop-out caravans, camper trailers, fifth wheelers, and motorhomes

Towing Capacity

Caravans and camper trailers are available in various sizes depending on the make and manufacturer. But how big you can go is primarily determined by the towing capacity of your vehicle. Considering your vehicle towing capacity is essential to ensure your vehicle is properly equipped to tow your caravan safely and that you meet the relevant legal requirements of your state. You should be aware of the gross combination mass (GCM), your towing vehicle's towing capacity, and the aggregate trailer mass (ATM) of your caravan. Your GCM is the combined total weight of your packed vehicle and whatever you are towing. You can find this information in your vehicle's owner's manual to ensure you don't exceed this limit. The ATM is the maximum fully loaded carrying capacity of your caravan. You can find this information in the manufacturer's handbook.


Towing Experience

Something very overlooked when buying a caravan is taking into account the experience of towing the caravan. You wouldn't buy a car without a test drive, then why would you buy a caravan without experience towing it. Request a test drive if your towing vehicle is equipped to handle the caravan's weight. Consider the following when driving: How does the caravan feel under acceleration? Can you brake effectively? How does it feel around corners? Is it as quiet as you would like? Does it ride nicely?

After your experience, don't feel ashamed to find out you're not 100% confident with a big caravan. Perhaps this was a good thing to experience before making such a big purchase, and it would be a good idea to go with something smaller. If this is your dream caravan and you have to buy it, there are plenty of towing and safety courses available to ensure you feel more comfortable driving around with a caravan.


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