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tonycollinet

First time caravan

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Retireing in just over 2 months, and want to get a 2 berth caravan for enjoying the time. Hoping to have it ready to roll by the end of July.

Car is a Ford Focus Mk4 (vignale) 182BHP, 1408 Kerbweight, so should be good up to 1200Kg 'van (or perhaps 1270  if I push it and/ or load up the car appropriately).

Budget is in the region of 5K to 10K for the van (and hopefully any needed accessories). Choice is overwhelming, so some questions.

From what I've seen online I'll be able to get somthing in the 7 to 10 year old range. Are there any reccomendations for makes/models of that age to go for. Or ones to avoid (especially any renowned for damp problems.)

Buy from dealer or private? Pros cons for both. Any particular problem with private sales? (I"ll pay for an inspection)
Speaking of which - what is the best way to get an inspection done.

 

Anything else I should be looking for or thinking about?


Thanks for any help

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Hi Tony & welcome.

 

Answers in order to your questions;

 

1. Very sensible in terms of the weight of caravan you intend to tow👍
2. To be fair you will hear this caravan make is better than that one but they are good and bad with all makes models. I would suggest that it might make sense to buy a make that is still in business today as finding spares/panels will be easier if needed.

3. Dealer purchase - Pro’s - choice, warranty, comeback if there’s any problems, Section 75 cover if you pay at least £101 of the total price on a credit card, will likely throw in a starter kit of basic equipment and perhaps an awning. Cons - more expensive 

4. Private sale - Pro’s - cheaper, you can get a feel for the person who is selling you the caravan. Cons - no warranty or comeback. I believe the two main clubs offer (paid for) pre purchase inspections.

 

Other things to consider are;

 

1. Towbar - what type? Dedicated electrics? Remember to inform your car insurance company 

2. Insurance for the caravan 

3. Security measures - where will you store it, wheel & hitch locks

4. Caravan payload - think about what you will put in the caravan

5. Breakdown insurance - does it cover your caravan? 
 

Remember there is no such thing as a daft question so ask away👍


2020 Swift Eccles 650 towed by Range Rover Vogue SE SDV8 4.4

"What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger!"

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If you can get to a big dealer, go and have a look around to find the layout that you prefer, then research which manufacturers build that layout and compare.

It took us a couple of months to decide that a 2008 Sterling Eccles Topaz was what we wanted. It took another couple of months to find one of the year, price and locality that fitted our needs.

We bought privately, but I'm confident enough to know what to look for and how to fix things if necessary. YMMV.

  • I agree completely 1

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You are likely to find that after a few outings your idea of an ideal caravan will change and your carefully chosen van is no longer exactly what you want.

So buy cheap and cheerful for the first van with an expectation of trading it in after a season. That way you lose less on trade in when you buy what you decide what you really want.

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As per the other posts, researching your ideal layout is critical as what you might think "works" for you wandering round the dealers might prove otherwise after actually living in it for a few days.  What we do is set aside half a day and go to the biggest local dealer we can find and spend a few hours wandering around every layout type we can find and trying to visualise actually living in it, everything from access to and from the bathroom while someone is in the kitchen making breakfast, to packaging stuff away while towing it.  Once you have your ideal layout you can then research what models are available that offer this and then you can research any known issues with those models.  I find the caravan finder website is good for displaying what models are around for a particular layout.

 

www.caravanfinder.co.uk

 

 


2018 Volvo V90 and 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

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My opinion is, that you're unlikely to get the right layout first time.

 

I know we didn't, and we did tons of research. It's only when you have used it in anger for a good few trips, that you realise what layout does actually work for you.


2016 Audi Q7 3. 0 - Towing a 2012 Sterling Elite Emerald

Persistent Love2Stay user

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We have always had the right layout.  Until we see a new one...……..  For this (expensive) reason we avoid shows and browsing dealers showrooms!

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2018 Volvo V90 and 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

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There are a limited number of different layouts that are used by virtually all the manufacturers. Also the main components in a van (water system, heating, fridge, oven etc.) and even the chassis and thing like windows and skylights all come from a small number of sources so you will find similar items in most vans. So at a simplified level there is a lot of commonality between different manufacturers. What does differ between manufacturers and also within their different model ranges is the level of quality and/or luxury (sometimes perceived rather than actual) and differences at a more detailed level e.g. surface finishes, soft materials, style, lighting, smaller fixtures and fittings etc. but those things are largely more about appearance, personal taste and sometimes convenience.

So regarding you question re makes/models, there is no absolute answer. You will find advocates and detractors for most makes if you research enough! Apart from some known issues with a small number of specific models most caravans have the same potential to be ok or problematic. It mostly depends on how well they are looked after and maintained and how much and how they have been used (or abused!). So consider more the individual van you are looking at rather than some notion that one make or model is inherently much better or worse than another.

The first important thing to decide on is layout. Look at as many variations as possible and think about how it works for how you will use the van. The next most important thing is condition, condition, condition (above age for example)! As a newcomer the very last thing you want is a van with problems particularly the dreaded damp. Don't buy without a service record or evidence of good maintenance and an up to date damp report.

This you might expect would lead you to the natural conclusion to buy from a reputable dealer. That is certainly the safest thing to do, but expect to pay more for that security. But as someone new to caravanning there can be a huge advantage in buying privately if you do it well. Find a good van owned by someone who has looked after it but is giving up caravanning and you could inherit or negotiate for a host of necessary (or desirable) accessories that could save you a lot of expense. I did this with my very first van and was good to go the day I collected it.

Good luck in your search and continue to ask questions on this forum. There is a wealth of experience here that is always willing to advise.


Life is not a rehearsal . . .:)

Porsche Cayenne S Diesel & Knaus StarClass 695. Previously Audi S4 Avant & Elddis Super Sirocco

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I think when looking for a caravan of that age condition is far more important than the make. Basically you need to make sure that it is in good condition and has been well looked after and serviced as needed. With all second hand models you need a recent damp test results with nothing hopefully over 15%. Do not accept ticks as they do not show the levels.

If you do not have someone experienced to assist you I would stick with a reputable dealer as there are many rogues out their trying to dupe you just like there are with cars. A dealer should service it and might give you a guarantee.

At that weight you will probably have to accept a two berth caravan so there will not be a lot of choice in layout although there may be a few basic models with a bit more room.

If you need more help on any specific point then there should be an answer here.

 

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Thanks everyone for the excellent advice. Will start looking next weekend.

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 A very important thing to decide on very early is whether you want something with a fixed bed or one where you make the bed up every night.

 

A fixed bed may well have an interior sprung mattress whereas a non fixed bed will be foam. If foam the cushions are designed to take a persons weight whilst seated (so over a small area) if you then spread that weight over a lying down person the foam will possibly feel too hard. 

 

A fixed bed takes up space when not in use, but a “make up” bed doesn’t.

With a fixed bed the bedding stays on the bed

With a make bed you need to store the bedding somewhere during the day.

 

As someone of a certain age (66) I am firmly in the fixed bed camp, but that’s just me/us.

 

And that’s just the first question you need to resolve :)

 

Look at as many caravans as you possibly can. Take notes on each one and record what you DONT like about each one. Then decide what factors are “deal breakers” for you and exclude any that have that feature from your list.

 

You will not find an absolutely perfect caravan, you will have to compromise on something and that’s why you need your notes of what you don’t like so you can narrow things down to a point where you are happy with the compromises you will have to accept. 

 

Good hunting.

 

Andy


Experience is an awful teacher who ends up sending you simply horrifying bills

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Bathrooms are another "make sure it fits" area if you intend to use the caravan bathroom rather than site facilities.  Some look very nice but have a good look, space around toilets can be restricted, try sitting on it to make sure there's room for your knees, try leaning over the sink to see if drips from teeth cleaning/shaving etc will land in the sink or run down the front of it.  Some showers have a bulge in them where the wheel arch intrudes, you cannot stand/sit on these (it's just thin plastic) so make sure this doesn't get in the way.

 

Take your time, try and find a big dealer with a coffee shop, that way you can browse lots of layouts and have a break.  Keep an eye out for vultures sales-folk as they'll (sometimes) try and sell you something before you have reached any conclusions.  Almost as important as the caravan itself is what sort of warranty is offered.


2018 Volvo V90 and 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

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Posted (edited)

Hi Tony , I see that you are retiring soon , so I'm assuming that you are of retirement age, so I would suggest a fixed bed, which gives you extra storage  space as well.   I see from your figures that you are working on 85% kerbweight, this is a guide for beginners, more importantly is how you load the van.   If you don't get a good deal , walk away, as you have nothing to part exchange , you will be expecting a little something to sweeten the deal.  good luck, let us know how you get on.  

Edited by joanie

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Tony

i agree with the above but would add I hired a 2 berth then a 4 berth , 2 berth too small for accommodation 4 berth too big for me when towing. Bought the biggest 2 berth I could afford. After 6 trips with  motor movers which I did not have on the hire caravans, I feel I could have gone for the fixed bed 4 berth with motor movers. However the 2 test runs did get me nearer my ideal and I would not change now for some time yet. Good luck  

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