Buying A Used Touring Caravan

towing a used second hand touring caravan along the road

With the rise of holidaying in the UK, owning your own holiday accommodation has become even more appealing.

But buying a second home, whether it’s towable, like a touring caravan, or more fixed, like a static caravan—the purchase is a big investment.

Once you’ve decided which type of touring caravan you want, the next step is to think about whether you will buy it new or used, as well as where you should buy it from.

Should I Buy A Used Touring Caravan?

used caravan by lake and mountains

Although the thought of owning a sparkling new caravan is appealing, buying a used touring caravan has many benefits too. Let’s consider some of them;

  • A lower purchase price upfront.
  • More affordable for first-time caravanners, prices start from £2,000.
  • A greater selection of makes and models to choose from with a wider choice of style and different specifications.
  • Caravan depreciation is slower with used tourers compared to purchasing new.
  • Used tourers are an excellent choice for families and those with pets! Any wear and tear from the previous owner are probably less of a factor.
  • Some used tourers will have a collection of caravan accessories included in the purchase price. This is especially useful for larger purchases such as a caravan awning or solar panels.
  • Touring caravan insurance might be cheaper on a used tourer.

Where To Buy A Used Touring Caravan

towing a used caravan

When it comes to used tourers, you have various options:

  • Authorised main or independent dealer
  • Private purchase
  • Online auction
  • Private import

With a few different choices of where to buy, this section provides a general checklist and some handy tips for you to take on board.

Authorised Main Or Independent Dealer

Buying a used caravan from a dealer will definitely have its advantages and give you some peace of mind.

Some key benefits include:

  • Good offers on nearly new caravans (like up to 2 years old).
  • Great offers just before new models are updated (after the summer) and in the so-called ‘dead period’ around. December / January time—may find a bargain trade-in.
  • Greater protection by law via an authorised dealer: the law states that you are covered by the ‘Sale of Consumer Goods Regulations’ this would allow you to ask for a repair or replacement of any item which is not of satisfactory quality, this for the first 6 months.
  • Advertisements must reflect a high degree of accuracy when it comes to description and condition – there is greater transparency when buying from a retailer.
  • Distance selling—the purchaser is covered by regulations that allow for returns to be made.
  • Warranties and vehicle checks are part of the purchase price—bringing you reassurance and confidence with your purchase.
  • Dealers will typically have access to finance products to help buy your caravan.
  • Most dealers are approved by the NCC (National Caravan Council ) as a member of their ‘Approved Dealership Scheme.’

Used Caravan Checklist

close up of used caravan to check before buying
  • Check the price, description and condition against the advertisement you have or seen online prior to visiting the retailer.
  • Double-check the warranty that is included, the length of it and especially the small print for any exclusions.
  • Ask about any mechanical or standard pre-delivery checks the retailer performs, check any paperwork they have completed for this.
  • Make sure the caravan has its service history, ideally in the handbook- make sure you check this correctly, that it is in good order and has been maintained correctly.
  • Check that the correct handbook is being supplied for the caravan you are buying.
  • Ask the dealer to perform an HPI check that will help match up the caravan’s service history.
  • Make sure that the HPI check confirms there is currently no outstanding finance lodged against this caravan.
  • Double-check that the VIN ( Vehicle Indication number) is visible on the caravan, the CRIS ( Caravan Registration Identification Scheme) will require it. (a legal requirement for all caravans sold after 1992)- cannot get insurance without this check. Also, this check can confirm that the caravan has not been stolen.
  • Ensure that any gas appliances onboard the caravan have a ‘Certificate Of Compliance’ available for you to check.
  • Consider ‘trying before buying’ or hire a caravan for a short trip to see if it suits your needs.
  • Always compare finance products to personal loans; take the best option.
  • Double-check everything on handover against your original order before handing over any money or signing any finance documents.
  • Handover any money safely via bank transfer, debit or credit card—double-check for any charges here. Always ask for a detailed receipt.

Private Purchase

The most obvious advantage to buying your used caravan from a private seller is it’s likely to cost you much less upfront, typically speaking you are much more likely to get a fair price or a bargain.

However, the main drawback is you will have less protection by law, your rights under the ‘Sale Of Goods Act’ aren’t applicable to the same degree as compared with a dealer or retailer purchase.

With this in mind, please check that:

  • The caravan is ‘as described’ by the seller, it’s your responsibility to be satisfied with what you are buying- the buck stops with you!
  • Make a full inspection of the caravan yourself or via an independent, experienced assessor and check key aspects on a written checklist. (£60 approximately).
  • That the location where you view the caravan is a home address or their storage facility.
  • Check all relevant documentation, service history and previous receipts.
  • Arrange a service perhaps if it appears to be overdue, this is likely to set you back approximately £190.
  • The make you buy is one of the main recognised manufacturers, so if you need a spare part in the future, it will be easy to source.
  • Double-check that the VIN ( Vehicle Indication number) is visible on the caravan, the CRIS ( Caravan Registration Identification Scheme) will require it (a legal requirement for all caravans sold after 1992). You cannot get insurance without this check. Also, this check can confirm that the caravan has not been stolen.
  • Paying for the caravan should be done safely via a transfer unless a bankers draft is the only option, always get a fully detailed receipt.

Online Auctions

It’s not typical to see auction caravans sold through auction houses generally, but sometimes the larger auction houses may host a special sale periodically. 

If you decide to purchase this way you would need to have prior knowledge and confidence that you wouldn’t end up buying a caravan that is wrong for you just because it appears to be a bargain at auction!

It’s become increasingly popular to use online auction sites such as eBay.

A few tips to consider:

  • Always view the caravan before buying and handing over the money.
  • Try to organise a viewing before placing a serious bid if possible.
  • Take caution when viewing—make sure it’s at the seller’s home address or storage site.
  • In the event of any issues, often no claims can be made against eBay itself.
  • Be careful to organise payment via a legitimate source, such as PayPal.
  • Apply as many things as possible from the ‘private purchase checklist’, it’s the same as buying privately.

Private Import (overseas purchase)

The main attraction is the opportunity of getting a genuine bargain and purchasing a one-off original and quirky tourer.

If you are going to attempt this then be sure to:

  • Double-check that the caravan meets the legal requirements in the UK.
  • Check that it can be insured in the UK.
  • Check spares are available for your model in the UK.
  • The make and model can be serviced in the UK.
  • Check that the manufacturer is still in operation—it may be safer to stick to manufacturers that supply the bulk of the market.
  • Possibly avoid purchasing anything too quirky—especially if you are planning to resell it.
  • Check with DIY conversions that they fulfil legal requirements in the UK (i.e. you cannot sell a caravan in the UK if it’s over 2.55m wide).
  • Double check soft furnishings meet fire retardant regulations as set out in the UK and all electrical equipment meets UK specifications.

Compare listings