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10 Tips if you are buying a 2nd Hand Caravan

September 27, 2023



CHECK WEIGHT have weighed a variety of combinations over the years, from brand new caravans and cars to 20+ year old cars and caravans. The information available when purchasing a brand-new car or caravan is readily accessible, (but still can be confusing) but generally you can sit down with the salesperson (or two) and design a set-up and tailor it exactly to suit your needs.

However, when it comes to buying a second-hand caravan, it can be more confusing than purchasing a new one as information may not be available and we begin to assume that this is the way the caravan was purchased from the manufacturer.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when making your purchase:

Brand and Model:

Research the brand and model of the caravan you are interested in. Look for reviews and ratings online. Researching the brand and model can help you understand the caravan’s features, reliability, and any common issues to look out for.

Understand what was standard, as we like to customise the van to make life easier when we are travelling and everything you are looking at may not have been installed by the Manufacturer.

Age and Condition:

One of the most important things to consider when buying a second-hand caravan is its age and condition. Look for signs of wear and tear, such as leaks, mould, or damage to the exterior or interior. Make sure to check the caravan’s age, as older models may have outdated amenities or need more repairs.

Size and Layout:

Consider the size and layout of the caravan. Make sure that it will be comfortable for you. Look for features such as a separate bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom, and make sure that the layout works for you. It’s important to make sure that the caravan has enough space for everyone to be comfortable.

Towing Capability:

Make sure the caravan is compatible with your vehicle’s towing capacity and ensure it is equipped with necessary equipment such as hitch and electrical connections. It’s also important to check the caravan’s weight and ensure that it is within your vehicle’s towing capacity.  We recommend buying a caravan with an ATM less than your towing capacity, as remember there are a lot of other weight limits to consider.

Weight and Balance:

It’s important to consider the weight and balance of the caravan when you’re looking for a second-hand one. Make sure that the caravan is not too heavy for your vehicle to tow, and that the weight is evenly distributed. An uneven distribution of weight can make the caravan difficult to tow and can be dangerous on the road. Examples of what can reduce your payload and make your caravan too heavy or change the balance are as follows, extra solar panels, extra batteries, pillow-top mattress, additional water tanks, and toolboxes.

Compliance Plate :

The TARE weight on the caravan when buying 2nd hand is unlikely to be correct. Any items added by previous owners will make the caravan heavier and  reduce your payload.


Consider the accessories that the caravan may or may not have, such as air conditioning, heating, water heater, generator, solar panel, etc. These accessories can greatly enhance your travel experience, but also come with an additional cost and weight. Make sure to weigh the benefits of the accessories against the cost, and only purchase them if they align with your needs and budget.

Plumbing and Electrical Systems:

Check the plumbing and electrical systems to ensure they are in good working order. Look for leaks, check that the water pump is working and check the condition of the electrical wiring. These systems are crucial for the caravan’s functionality and safety, and any issues with them can be costly to repair.

Maintenance Records:

Ask for maintenance records to see if the caravan has been well-maintained. This will give you an idea of any repairs or upgrades that have been made and can help you make a more informed decision. A well-maintained caravan is less likely to have hidden issues and will likely have a longer lifespan.


Compare the prices of similar caravans to ensure you’re getting a fair price. Keep in mind that a lower price may be a good deal, but it could also indicate that the caravan has more problems. Be sure to factor in the cost of any repairs or upgrades that may be necessary and compare the overall value of the caravan to its asking price.

Be wary a lot of caravans in the last few years have suffered due to hail damage and flood damage. Make sure the damage has been repaired correctly if the caravan has been affected by storm damage.

Some caravans may not be insurable if they have previously been damaged.

Safety Features:

Look for safety features such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and Carbon Monoxide alarm/detectors. These features are essential for your safety while traveling and should be in good working order.


Before buying a second-hand caravan, check with your insurance company to see if they cover caravans. Some insurance companies may not cover older models or ones with certain types of damage. Make sure you understand the coverage and costs for the caravan, so you can budget accordingly.

Warranty and Service:

Some second-hand caravans may still be covered by a warranty or service plan. Be sure to ask the seller if this is the case and find out what is covered. This can give you peace of mind.


We recommend weighing a 2nd hand caravan prior to purchase. Most 2nd hand caravans will weigh more than the TARE on the Compliance plate as extras and modifications to the caravan since new will add weight to the caravan. We at CHECK WEIGHT have seen many horror stories where second hand caravans weighed almost the same as the ATM, and required expensive ATM upgrades so that they could be towed legally.

If you’re unsure whether your vehicle and caravan will match well, either have CHECK WEIGHT weigh it or consider doing a ZOOM Consultation whereby we talk through the likelihood of the combination being legal and safe. A ZOOM Consultation is just $95 and could save you big $$$$ in making an incorrect decision.

This blog article was written by Jason Wadwell – Great Sydney Franchise Partner.

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