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Paul mcdade

What caravan is ideal.

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Hi all. Im a newcomer at caravaning and to this site. I dont yet have a tourer caravan but got the idea from going to statics and the boredom of being stuck in the same place. Im looking for advise on what caravan i should buy. I have a wife and 2 kids under 4. Was ideally looking for a 4 berth with like 5 meters of internal space. My towcar is a zafira gsi with a 1505kg max tow and a GTW of 3250kg. My car has been rediculously tuned (boost bus)so it will pull more but i have to stick to the law. Any input will be appreciated. Thanks. Paul.

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The caravan for you is the one that YOU find to be the best for your circumstances.

Visit as many dealers as you can and have a good look around the demonstration models and think how you would use the space in all conditions, such as if it were raining and you had to spend quite a lot of time inside.

 

The other thing that will determine what van would be legal is when you passed your test, if after 1997 then you are limited to a total outfit weight , car and van combined, of 3500KG.

 

As far as the car is concerned, it does not matter how well tuned it is you cannot exceed the makers limits.

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Paul, Brecon is correct. Its the total weight that’s important and the pulling power  of the tow vehicle. It’s a bit like using a racehorse to pull a heavy load when a cart horse is more appropriate.  If you don’t hold a licence to tow a standard size 4 birth caravan (passed pre 1997), you can take an additional test.

Some of the bigger 4 birth vans are double axle (two sets of wheels in the middle).  I would suggest a single axle for first time van. Look at buying used rather than new. Caravans have a high depreciation when new or nearly new which makes for an expensive mistake if you find the layout or options is not right for you and your family. 

Like cars caravans have a choice of option packs that bump up the  new cost but not reflected so much in used values.

There are a lot of  5-10 year old caravans that are very good buys complete with air awnings and all the accessories eg motor movers, water and waste carriers that all add up to a tidy sum when on a tight budget.

Internal layout is  a personal choice. Some with small children go for bunk beds, others use the two single front beds, some like mid bathrooms so children don’t have to walk through  main bed area, others prefer end bathrooms. Will you use all year or just summer? Alde wet central heating system or hot blown air?

Internal colour schemes change every year. Newer vans have more neutral colour schemes (whites and beige). Older vans can have bolder in your face colour schemes.

The two main manufacturers Swift and  Bailey have a selection of layouts at each spec level available online with prices. 2020 models are for sale now with price reductions to be had for 2019 model and older years. Lunar caravans went bust this summer which has lowered used and new Lunar prices. There are used values available online as for cars to help you narrow your search to budget. Look for a big dealer in your area who are a main dealer for several makes. They also have “special” models that manufacturers make for them. 

Do use an outfit checker tool when you have a short list of caravans.

https://www.towsafe.co.uk/consumer/loginCsumer.asp

 

There are also a few good caravan bloggers on YouTube who explain in detail what to look out for when buying a caravan.

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OP has already pointed out the GTW has s 3250kg so there are no license issues irrespective of age.

 

You need to check the kerb weight of your car (cue 15 pages on kerb weight) but basically it’s the empty weight as stated on your V5; if new to towing the advice is to stick with around 85% of this figure for the total weight of the caravan (MTPLM) - some manufacturers allow you to use some of the cars payload traded against the towed load and I suspect from the figures you have yours is such a car as a Gross Train Weight of 3250kg and trailer weight of 1505kg suggests a Gross Vehicle Weight of 1745kg which feels low for that car - look at the VIN plate, the first weight is the GVW takes this from 3250kg and that’s probably more realistic around the max you can tow; whichever is lowest of this figure or 85% of the cars weight is a good place to start.

 

So having checked this, what to buy - budget will dictate but for a small family I’d be looking at the best Bailey Ranger, Discovery or Ranger models along with the Sprite Musketeer that your money can buy - just check your weights.

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For a first van buy cheap and cheerful, it will cost less in depreciation when you trade it in within a year for what you really want instead of what you think you want!

Living in a 5m box, even for a weekend, involves compromises such as who sits where between the kids going to bed and the adults following. Go into the local dealer and spend plenty of time doing walk throughs of typical days, including lying on the beds, to work out which compromises you can live with

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The gross weight of the 2.0l Zafira seems to be about 2450kg so if OP has a B licence only they will be restricted to a caravan with maximum MTPLM of about 1050kg even though the Zafira can tow up to 1500kg.

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look at different lay outs, here people have their own preferences that do not suit others.

end bathroom, fixed bed, bunk beds, double dinette then consider what "mod cons" what you think you need and what you would like.

You can still have lots of fun with a basic caravan so don't be thinking you need all the mod cons but you may need to give more consideration to what type of site you go to.

 

New or old, damp should be something else to check before handing over money, if buying from a dealer, do use plastic :)good luck

 

macafee2

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In my opinions the double dinette is the best layout for a family - giving two areas for beds and dining, playing etc. however the manufacturers don't seem to be selling many of these at the moment. They are very flexible giving the option of making up beds and leaving them, or converting back to seats.

 

 Most models have fixed beds, which to my way of thinking is a waste of space in the daytime. Caravans with a fixed double mean that children's beds would be in the lounge area, meaning that if they go to bed before you, you can't as easily watch tv, do the washing up, etc without disturbing them.

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2 hours ago, mecamero said:

 Most models have fixed beds, which to my way of thinking is a waste of space in the daytime. Caravans with a fixed double mean that children's beds would be in the lounge area, meaning that if they go to bed before you, you can't as easily watch tv, do the washing up, etc without disturbing them.

A very good point as the OP has two children.  I think the only caravans with a bed at the front end are Hobby caravans.  These have the kids bunks in the middle with the lounge area at the rear, but too heavy for any Zafira although legal to tow with the correct vehicle.

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I agree with Stevan.

We also took his route and acquired a £500 van from a friend, used it for one season and it gave us the opportunity to experience caravanning and started us thinking about our ‘ideal’ van.

One year later we knew what we wanted and found a 2 year old van (which saved us nearly £10,000 from buying new) and it had everything we wanted. 
All the niggles that come with a new van had been sorted and it has served us well for nearly 7 years. 

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I would think the Zafira would weigh around 1500 kg empty, so

laden caravan plus all that's carried in the car mustn't weigh more than 1750kg to keep within the GTW. Seems somewhat marginal but doable with a bit of thought. 

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Have we checked that the Zafira isn't one of those that has a towing weight higher than GTW minus GVW, so with a fully loaded car the towing weight has to be reduced.

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Think the Gsi is a Zafira A so pre 2005.Information can be a bit sparse. OP hasn't mentioned the GVW,only the GTW and towing limit. 

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