1- Look out for damp
The number one thing to look out for when buying a used caravan is damp, especially if the caravan is a few years old. Damp is an indication that water has penetrated the inside skin of the caravan. A clear sign that this has happened, will be a musty smell, stains around windows, doors, in the corners and around skylights. You can also tell if there are damp issues by pressing your fingers around suspect areas, if it feels soft and spongy then walk away. If you really want to be thorough, then a moisture detector may be a good investment.
2 – Check for gas leaks
Take some time and thoroughly check all gas pipes and connections especially around the gas bottles, cooker, fridge, heater etc. If possible turn on the gas whilst making sure all appliances are turned off, then go around the caravan smelling for signs of gas. If you do smell gas then this could be an indication of a leak and the caravan is not safe – so either walk away or have a professional check over the caravan for you so you can identify the problem and get it fixed.
3 – Test the electrics
First check the electrics inside the caravan. Have the seller turn on the 12v system, then check that the lights, water pump, fridge etc, work okay. Next do the same for the 24v mains hookup parts of the electrics, not forgetting to check that the caravans 12v charging charging system is working and in good condition.
Finally check the caravan exterior electrics by connecting the towbar electrical socket to a vehicle, then with one person in the car and another by the caravan, check the indicators, stop lights and driving/side lights. When checking the indicators make sure to also have the stop lights or driving lights on. If the stop lights and driving lights flash in time with the indicators then this is an indication of a poor electrical earth and will need to be rectified.
4 – Inspect the tyres
Because caravans spend a lot of time stationary the tyres can develop flat spots and cracking, this can lead to tyre blowouts when towing so it’s important that the tyres are in good condition. If you see any signs of cracking or bulging around the wall of the tyres then the tyres will need to be replaced. Also make sure that the same type and size of tyre are fitted to both sides of the caravan, as mismatched tyres can also be dangerous.
5 – HPI check
Finally it’s a good idea to get a HPI check on the caravan if possible. Look for a VIN number stamped on the caravan’s chassis, on newer model this can also be etched on the windows.