Below is our guide to purchasing a caravan
What to look for when viewing a caravan.
Take a damp meter with you to check the caravan for moisture. Dampness in a caravan can literally be a killer if it gets into the walls and body and weakens the structure.
Look at the carpet under heating appliances to see if they've been stained by leakage, and for signs of leakage under the sink and in the shower room. Check the caravan flooring for any gaps or soft areas that may signal potential rot.
Check the bodywork beneath the caravan, too. Not just from the inside. If you detect new underseal ask why it was necessary. It could be just a minor repair or masking some horror.
If there are scuff marks or dents on the external sides, ask where they've come from and why they've not been repaired. They could be a sign of lack of interest in maintaining the caravan by the previous owner.
Check window and door seals are not showing signs of perishing, and test door hinges and locks for signs of damage that might suggest a previous burglary attempt.
Check that gas and electric connections have been tested in the past year. If you're buying the caravan through a dealer this should be a given. If you're buying privately ask for service documentation.
Turn any bench/seat cushions over to see if they've been flipped because of stains.
Examine the towing apparatus. Is there rust around it? Is there, or has there been, a hitchlook fitted?
Before you part with a single penny, check the caravan's history if it's secondhand. The National Caravan Council's CRiS registration scheme or a simple check with Experion will tell you if there's outstanding finance on the caravan, if it's previously been stolen or even written off in an accident and rebuilt.
Insist on a service history. Remember, one or two minor, easily reparable faults are fair enough, particularly if the owner points them out to you. But if you pick up three or four points without his prompting, it might not bode well.
We always recommend servicing your caravan
After buying a house, a caravan, particularly if it's brand new, could be one of the most expensive things you buy. So look after it from day one - caravans don't maintain themselves.
Just as you'd give your car an annual service, it's worth doing the same to your caravan. A service agreement should included in the warranty for at least the first three years.
Check your caravan's tyres
Attending to roadworthiness is essential. You check the tread and air pressure on your car's tyres so do the same to the caravan's.
Look out for tyre cracking and tread depth, and tighten the wheel nuts. A high-pressure hose wash on the tyres will clear any lurking debris.
If you think the tyres are out of shape or worn, replace them before you make your first trip.
Check your caravan's fire extinguisher, smoke alarm and first aid kit.
Ensure your caravan's fire extinguisher is secure and that it isn't due for an extended service. Check the date on it. If it's over five years old then call your local fire service for advice.
Check your smoke alarm is working, and top up your first aid kit if it was used last time you had an outing.
Check your caravan's lights.
Check that the caravan's lights are all working, from interior lighting (even the fridge bulb) to the all-important outside lights, braking and indicating.
Make sure you have replacement bulbs available, and that the tow car and caravan links are secure and electrics are working.