Buying a Secondhand Caravan – 5 things to look out for

If you are thinking of buying a secondhand caravan, there are some things you need to be aware of. When looking around a caravan that you are thinking of buying, it is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment and be swayed by the perfect layout or the overall look of the caravan. But this is where you need to step back and take a deep breath. You see, buying a secondhand caravan is much like buying a house. First of all, you need to get the initial feel of it, and more importantly make up your mind if you like it or not! Then, once you have done this – you look for the potential problems!

To help you along, we’ve created a list of 5 things to look out for when buying a secondhand caravan…

Buying a secondhand caravan |


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 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 models this can also be etched on the windows.

The caravan doesn’t have to be perfect…

When buying a secondhand caravan you don’t have to look for perfection. But you do want to avoid major issues. It is up to you once you have assessed everything to decide if the caravan is for you.

Certain problems, I personally would walk away from. Damp for instance can be a tricky and costly thing to eradicate. One whiff of damp, and I’m gone! But, there are lots of little things that can be fixed at a later date. Once you’ve got your caravan home you can look at improvements. We did that with ours. We fixed some little holes in the interior wall. And we also fitted a caravan stabiliser.

But the most important thing is, that a secondhand caravan feels right for you. As soon as we sat down in ours, it felt like home. I hope you have the same feeling when buying your secondhand caravan!

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