A caravan holiday offers you the flexibility to go wherever you want to, whenever you want to, so it's little wonder that caravanning is so popular.  If you're considering buying a used caravan, here are some factors to consider to make sure that you get a good deal.


Before you begin looking at caravans, it's well worth investing in a basic damp meter from your local DIY store.  Dampness in used caravans can be a real headache, as it's usually costly to repair, so it's important that you check thoroughly before you buy. Notorious places for signs of damp are corners and inside cupboards.  Pass the handheld damp meter over suspect areas; if it 'beeps', damp could be present. 

Have a look around outside the caravan too and check the external sealing.  You can do this by pressing the body of the van near to any joints for signs of 'give' that might indicate a gap through which water could enter.  A floor that feels soft and spongy underfoot could also be a sign of damp. Have a good look at the seal around the main door to make sure that it's not damaged and is watertight.  Other likely culprits for leaks include roof vents and windows, so check these carefully for signs of cracks or internal condensation in double-glazed units.   

Chassis condition

Problems with the chassis of the caravan could make it unsafe to tow.  Look underneath the van for signs of rust and corrosion, and watch out for evidence of newly applied sealant or paint that could indicate a recent patch-up job.  


Have a good look around the tyres to assess their overall condition.  Badly worn tyres will mean immediate expense and could also be indicative of poor overall maintenance of the van.  Tyres that are perished could indicate that the van has been left unused for long periods, probably not parked on hard standing, which could indicate unseen problems, such as seized brakes.  A van that has been parked for long periods on soil or grass could also be affected by damp.  

Hitch mechanism

The rubber gaiter on the hitch mechanism should not be split or showing signs of perishing or crumbling.  Operate the mechanism to see that it is free-moving, and make sure the jockey wheel winds up and down smoothly and rotates easily. Check that the handbrake is easy to apply and is effective.  Have a good look at the grease nipples to make sure that they are in good condition and are well lubricated.  

Gas and electrical systems

Faulty gas and electric systems can be extremely dangerous, especially in the confined space of a caravan.  Look for signs of DIY repair jobs on these systems, such as random bits of electrical tape, and have them fully safety checked by a qualified professional before making your purchase.   

Full service history

Ask the dealer for a full service history of the van, together with information on its recent use.  A service history will give you an idea of how well the van has been looked after by its previous owner, as well as give details of any work that has recently been carried out. 

In conclusion

When checking out local caravan sales, always look the caravan over as outlined above.  It's helpful to take a second person with you, as two pairs of eyes are often better than one when it comes to fault finding.