When it comes to buying a caravan, good preparation prevents poor purchase. The thought of hitting the road soon takes over, and you’re tempted to buy the first caravan you see. But don’t! You need to answer several questions and check the details before buying your home on four wheels.
Whether you’re looking for a new or used caravan, we have prepared a guide to help you with those burning questions and lead you to the best decision.
Top Questions You Must Answer Before Purchasing
What’s Your Budget?
As obvious as it might seem, the first step is deciding how much you’re willing to spend on a caravan. The prices vary depending on what you want; you can find a 1980 Franklin for as little as $5,000 and a 2021 Great Aussie for $63,500.
Used caravans are cheaper but might require a lot of work depending on their condition. However, a new one comes at a pretty hefty price. Your travel plans might not justify the purchase of a new caravan, which leads us to the next point.
Remember though, you’re not just budgeting for the caravan itself. You will most likely choose to customise your van to suit your needs and travel situation, so you have to factor all these customisations into your budget. It can end up costing you a hefty amount if you’re not careful!
What Are The Service Costs?
Most caravans need to be serviced every 10,000km or once a year. But this rule of thumb changes as circumstances change. If you’re driving predominantly in the outback dirt road, you must reduce the time between services. Before setting up on a more extended tour, you must do your service right before you leave.
Regular servicing is crucial, and if the price of the annual service is too high, it might put you off from regular visits. This is unsafe and leads to bigger damage. That’s why it’s essential to choose a caravan brand with affordable service prices.
How Long Is The Warranty Period?
Before dumping a lump sum on a caravan, inspect the warranty period, rules that apply, and what exactly are they willing to cover once something inevitable happens. After all, you’re taking your new caravan in the outback and would not enjoy getting stranded and charged a massive amount for repairs and road assistance. If the manufacturer has an extensive warranty, that’s often a good sign for the quality of their product. Ask for clear answers and get them in writing.
Who Is Coming Along?
If it’s just you and your partner, you need to look for a smaller caravan that is easy to find and significantly cheaper. A family of four plus a pet, on the other hand, is looking into at least a four-berth caravan, which ranks up the price.
How Often Do You Plan On Travelling?
If you’re getting the caravan for one-off travel and don’t plan on frequent uses, you might reconsider investing a significant amount and rent instead. But if you’re a frequent traveller, you need to look for a comfortable, safe, and reliable caravan. The investment will pay off- just think of renting cottages and hotel rooms for every weekend getaway.
Where Do You Plan On Travelling?
It’s important that you choose the right caravan to suit the adventures you plan to go on. To do this, you need to have a clear idea of the types of terrains you’ll be towing your caravan across. Not all caravans are designed to handle off-road terrains, so if you know you’ll definitely be hitting those dirt roads, you should consider purchasing an off-road caravan. Or perhaps you’re looking at a pop-up caravan… whatever you choose, make sure it’s suited to the trip you’ve planned.
Where Will You Store The Caravan When You’re Not Travelling?
The place where you’ll be keeping the caravan is crucial for preserving its condition. Harsh weather conditions lead to some rust and decay if you’re leaving it in the open. Keeping the caravan on your driveway might be prohibited by your council; make sure to check in advance. A storage site is the safest as well as priciest option. If you end up paying to repair the weather damages each season, it might end up being the wiser choice.
What Are Your Caravan Must-Haves?
Decide what you want your caravan to have inside. If you’re not familiar with everything that a caravan can have, we’re here to help. Make a list of what you can’t imagine your life without on the road. For example, if you’re a couple, you won’t like a two-person camper with bunk beds, so you’ll need to look for a pull out bed.
The basic starter packs usually include a freshwater carrier and a waste carrier, electric hook-up lead, gas bottle and hose, smoke alarm, a 12V battery, wheel clamp, towing mirrors, tool kit, a step, and fire extinguisher. Everything else is up to personal preference, like an awning, BBQ, bedding, camping chairs, air conditioning, etc.
Can You Repair Your Caravan Anywhere?
Most reliable manufacturers have a national repair network to help you no matter where in Australia you are. If you’re buying a caravan for your Big Lap or just a section of it, this is a significant point. Your salesperson needs to inform you about their repair network and assure you that you’re quickly getting assistance anywhere down the road without emptying your wallet.
Questions To Ask Your Dealership
After you’ve decided what features you want and need and picked your brand, it’s time to visit some dealerships or caravan shows. Several questions can make all the difference. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s answers and compare. Your good-on-paper brand might be a hit or miss!
How long has your company been in the caravan making business?
A reliable brand needs to have at least a few years in making and upkeeping caravans. After all, you’re buying your caravan to use it in the next 10+ years, so you’ll need proof that their products are durable. The older the brand, the more reviews you can find and get informed!
How much does the model weigh, and what kind of car do I need to tow it?
Some caravans can be towed by a mid-sized car, while others require a more powerful engine. If you’re not in the market for a new vehicle, compare the model’s weight with your car’s capacity before making a decision. As a rule of thumb, off-road caravans are sturdier and heavier.
Do you have personal caravanning experience?
A good salesperson can help you more than anything else, so ask them if they have any caravanning experience. Especially if you’re a newbie in the caravan world, their expertise can open your eyes to features you weren’t aware of.
What’s included in the basic starter package?
Most caravans come with enough essential equipment like kitchen and bathroom appliances, and safety features. Ask your dealership what’s included in the price and if you can make any customisations.
Does the caravan come with a warranty? What exactly does it cover?
Your caravan needs to be reliable and durable. The warranty is the manufacturer’s belief in its product. A good brand provides an extended warranty and at least a year of road assistance.
What’s their after service and repair network?
You will be taking your caravan to different places, and an emergency drive home for a repair is a dealbreaker. Make sure you pick a brand with an extended network of service agents.
How much are the running costs?
The running costs largely depend on the type of caravan you pick. The initial $20,000 or $200,000 is not the only money you’ll spend, so make sure you can afford the maintenance costs.
Can they arrange insurance?
Caravan insurance is not a legal requirement, but it provides financial protection against loss or damage to your caravan. It gives you a sense of security while on the road. Check to see if your dealership cooperates with an insurance company and can provide a special price for you.
The Best Caravan Brands To Check Out
The number of caravan brands is vast, and it can be overwhelming for first-time caravan buyers. We’ve listed high-quality, reputable brands that have been on the market for a long time and have varied models to suit your likings.
JB Caravans produce on and off-road, durable caravans capable to tow over different terrain. Their range includes the on-road Dreamline, a semi off-road Dirt Roader, and the full off-road caravan lines Gator and Scorpion. They have over 10 dealerships across Australia and provide a 5-year warranty. You can book a factory tour to get familiar with the manufacturing process. All caravans come with safety features, high-quality, compact appliances, air conditioning, heating, a 12V water pump, an awning, a 24″ Smart TV and outdoor speakers. However, you’re free to customise anything inside.
Jayco takes pride in the best-in-class engineering and its extensive network of dealers and service agents. This locally-owned brand makes on and off-road caravans as well as all-terrain. The caravans provide creative storage space, a durable exterior, and great value for money. All caravans come with a 2-year manufacturing and 5-year structural warranty. You also get 3 years of Jayco Roadside Assist all over Australia, 24 hours a day.
Coromal’s list of caravans includes Princeton, Pioneer Evolution XC off-road, Element Evolution Adventurer and the Appeal. This brand might have a limited choice, but it has a network of 1,600 service centres in Australia. It’s the perfect value for money with a great interior, safety features and appliances. They’re easy to tow and have low service costs.
New Age Carvans
New Age has an extensive list of elegant and innovative caravans, including the Manta Ray, Gecko, Road Owl, XU, Dessert Rose, Big Red and the award-winning, luxurious Oz Classic. While it’s a relatively new brand, established in 2008, today it reached the point of producing over 2,000 caravans a year. With each purchase from one of their 14 dealerships, you get a 3-year manufacturer warranty and 12 months of New Age Assist.
Supreme Caravans can suit your every desire for a small, luxury or bunk caravan. You can choose between 6 premium models, Classic, Classic Tourer, Executive, Base Camp, Territory and Spirit. Additionally, in some seasons, they have a Limited Release. They have 5 dealers and 57 service agents all over Australia. Supreme gives a 3-year structural warranty with purchase.
Avan has been on the market for over 20 years providing high-quality products and great service. Their product range includes the lines AdventurePLUS, Aliner, Cruiseliner, Cruiser and Sportliner. Their smart design results in a compact, lightweight caravan that is easy to tow and great on fuel economy. The high-tech construction furniture allows for ample storage. Avan has 17 dealers and gives a 24-month manufacturing warranty.
Lotus Caravans make a tough shelf caravan with a luxurious interior. As users claim, they’re one of the most sophisticated off-road caravans on the market. Their product range includes the best-rated Trooper, then Freelander, Off Grid, Transformer, Hollywood and Crystal River. Lotus provides you with the option to build your own van and book a factory tour. They have 7 dealers and offer a 5-year structural warranty.
Jurgens are lightweight caravans designed to be towed even by a mid-sized passenger car. Don’t let the looks fool you; their Sungazer, Skygazer, Lunagazer and Trooper are solid and durable. Jurgens has been on the Australian market since 2008, but it’s been a reliable brand in South Africa since 1952. Each caravan comes with a 3-year factory warranty, and appliances come with a 1-year warranty.
Crusader Caravans is the 2019 CIV winner of the caravan manufacturer of the year. Their line of caravans includes Xcountry, Chameleon, Excalibur, Musketeer, Lifechanger and CRV. While some of their products are highly luxurious and pricy, others are very affordable. They’re all built with high-quality materials and attention to detail. Each purchase comes with a 5-year structural and 2-year factory warranty.
Traveller Caravans Australia
Traveller Caravans are one of the oldest caravan manufacturers in Australia, established 35 years ago. Their Intrigue, Obsession, Prodigy and Utopia are built with rigid quality control by skilled craftsmen. You’re able to make custom adjustments on their models and end up with a unique product. All caravans come with a full 12-month warranty. Although they take pride in the impeccable manufacturing, it’s the shortest warranty period from all the brands on our list.
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