Top Tips for Buying a Second Hand Motorhome

The majority of motorhome owners buy second hand vehicles. You may feel confident choosing a second hand car, but a motorhome is another kettle of fish altogether, and special care should be taken to ensure you buy something that runs well and suits your touring lifestyle. After all, a motorhome is likely to be one of the most expensive purchases you are likely to make, so it is worth spending a little longer and doing some homework to get it right.

Like everything else, second hand motorhomes have a host of advantages and disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages of buying a second hand or used motorhome is that you are unlikely to find something absolutely perfect. That is not to say there aren’t any great motorhomes available, there are, but you will need longer to search for one, and will have to see a lot before you make a decision. Then, even if you find the make and model you are looking for, there is no guarantee that it will run well, and function correctly straight away.

The main advantage of buying a second hand motorhome is fairly obvious: cost. A second hand motorhome is far cheaper than a brand new one, in fact a new motorhome loses its value the minute it is driven away from the dealership. A used motorhome is perfect for first timer as it gives you the chance to get to know the motorhoming lifestyle without spending so much money. There are many bargains to be had, but you must make sure you know what you’re looking for to avoid being ‘done’.

Top Tips…

  1. Do your homework…: Look at used motorhomes in classified ads, both online and offline and you’ll easily get a gauge on types of motorhomes and prices. Get a shortlist of makes and models that most interest you, then key each one into a search engine with the words ‘fault’ or ‘problem’ next to the make or model of motorhome and you should get a good idea of any major issues with the model. This isn’t perfect, but it should give you a good idea of common faults.
  2. Set a Budget!: Now you know roughly the makes and models of motorhome that are most suitable for you, you should also have some idea of the price of vehicle you want. Use this to set a budget, but remember the price of the motorhome isn’t the only cost involved. There are the running costs to consider as well. Make sure you can afford to run your chosen motorhome! Factor in such necessities as motorhome insurance, regular servicing, recovery and fuel economy and, if necessary storage costs, in to your calculations. You should then end up with two figures, the initial outlay cost of the vehicle itself, and the cost of running it. This should help you narrow down your search for the right vehicle.
  3. Layout: You probably have strong ideas about the layout of the vehicle you plan to buy. Be prepared to be flexible in this, but, just as when you buy a house, make a list of absolute necessities. You could also make a list of desirable attributes, as well. Remember though, the longer your list of requirements, the longer it will take to find a second hand motorhome to fit your purpose!
  4. Base Vehicles: This is is an important factor to consider. The base vehicles used are varied, but one of the most common is a Fiat Ducato which is designed specifically for motorhomes. Other base vehicles available are; Peugeot Boxer, Citroen Relay, Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, Volkswagen Transporter and the Iveco Daily. A good tip to remember is that some of the best bargains to be had are on motorhomes made on less widely used base vehicles, so don’t rule anything out. Although, it is wise to also consider the availability of parts, and whether you have a local specialist who can service and fix any engine or vehicle faults.
  5. Book Test Drives: Spend a day (or weekend) doing test drives. Make sure you book with the dealer(s) to avoid disappointment on the day. When you get there, check the engine isn’t warm and that you can start it yourself – a common way to disguise starting problems in vehicles is to start the engine prior to the arrival of the potential buyer. Make sure your route includes a steep hill, a section of the motorway or a duel carriageway, and drive around a town to get the feel of real driving conditions. Make sure the test drive is long enough to get a true feeling of the vehicle. Try a hill start to check the clutch works correctly. Park the vehicle – if you’ve never driven something so large before then parking could be tricky at first so keep this in mind, but if you feel the vehicle is too big at this stage then maybe it’s time to reconsider the size of vehicle for you. Also look at such things as whether the stereo can be heard in the back, to help avoid boredom on long journeys!
  6. Check, Check, Check…: Make sure you check the overall condition of the vehicle. This includes looking at the chassis, the engine and check the mileage, just as you would when buying a second hand car. You should then also look at the seals and trims on the exterior as well as checking for cracks and dents. When you get to the interior, have a good old sniff! If it smells musty or damp, then there may be underlying problems. Check the soft furnishings, carpets, cupboards (do they close properly?). Check the shower works (if the water tank is empty, as for it to be filled). Check all gas and electric appliances work correctly. Make sure all service records are available for both the vehicle and the interior services.
  7. Picture yourself in the Motorhome: This may sound a bit daft, but bear with us… See if you can picture yourself and your family having a holiday in the motorhome. If you can see yourselves having fun in the vehicle, then it’s the right motorhome for you!

Have Fun!

Five Reasons to Hire a Motorhome This Summer

The British public has had a love affair with the humble motorhome dating back decades. While during the eighties the popularity of cheap package holidays abroad meant interest in motorhomes was on the wane, in the noughties and beyond motorhomes are experiencing a resurgence. The typical holidaymaker today is more environmentally aware, more cost-conscious and wants to be in control of their holiday like never before. And the motorhome fits the profile on a number of counts:

1. Motorhomes offer unrivaled freedom

By combining comfortable accommodation with incredible mobility, the modern motorhome is a marvel of ingenious engineering and gives the 21st century holidaymaker that holy grail of modern travel – the freedom of the open road. There’s no better feeling than picking a point on a map, loading up the family and getting there under your own steam.

2. Motorhome hire is affordable

While top-of-the-range motorhomes can easily set you back over a £100k, hiring a motorhome can be done at a fraction of the price and without the extra costs involved in storing, maintaining and insuring a vehicle as an owner. Even if you are planning to buy, there’s no better way of trying out the motorhome of your dreams than first renting it and putting it through its paces.

3. Modern motorhomes are stylish and luxurious

It’s a misconception to think motorhome hire is equivalent to camping in the ‘roughing it’ category or holiday. Modern vehicles are stylish, luxurious and incredibly spacious, with all manner of mod cons including power showers, DVD players and integrated power units. Top end models are more ‘hotel suite’ than ‘bedsit’.

4. Motorhome manufacturers offer green alternatives

Holidaymakers are increasingly conscious of their impact on the environment and the good news is that motorhome manufacturers have taken great strides in recent years to lessen the carbon footprint of their vehicles. The trend is for motorhomes with fewer carbon emissions and better fuel economy than ever before.

5. Motorhomes can be hired conveniently online

Motorhome hire companies have kept pace with the development of internet technology and the good news for consumers is that there are vast resources online for comparing motorhomes and finding the best deal. Now you can shop around, do your research and make your booking all from the convenience of your desktop.

Buying a Motorhome

A motorhome is likely to be one of the most expensive items you will ever buy. And, like anything else, it’s important to ensure your new purchase is the right choice of motorhome for you.

The first decision you are likely to have to make is whether to buy a new motorhome or a second hand motorhome. Obviously, this decision will largely be governed by you budget. Bear in mind that any motorhome you purchase will cost thousands of pounds, but do remember that you are not buying a van, you are buying a home. Motorhomes include kitchen appliances, a shower or bath, and a WC – all of which has to withstand the rigours of transit, and perform perfectly once you arrive at your destination and need to use them.

What size of Motorhome should I buy?

Size does matter! This isn’t to say you should buy the biggest motorhome that fits your budget – no, you should buy the motorhome that fits the use you plan to get out of it. If your main reason for owning a motorhome is for weekends away, then you probably don’t need a monster. But, if you plan on taking your motorhome away for several months at a time, then you’ll definitely want a larger vehicle.

Seatbelt law and Motorhomes

Also take into consideration the number of passengers you will want to take with you. Seatbelt law for motorhomes is confusing. The driver and any front passengers must wear a seatbelt. Passengers in the rear must wear seatbelts if they are available, and should be in forward facing seats. This is further complicated as motorhomes with no seatbelts whatsoever can take passengers in the back with no seatbelt (though you can still be pulled over and booked if the police deem your situation to be unsafe). Also, if there is only one seatbelt in the back then you can only take one passenger, regardless of the fact that if there were no seatbelts at all you would be able to take more passengers… Confused? Yes, we are too, but we think the safest and best advice is that all passengers should be belted, and sat in forward positions as wearing a seatbelt on a sideway facing seat can be dangerous in the event of a face on collision, so should be avoided.

Sleeping Arrangements

The size of your sleeping arrangements should be taken into consideration. If you are only going to be away for short periods – perhaps you will only sleep in your motorhome for one or two nights at a time – then your sleeping arrangements can be modest. If, on the other end of the spectrum, you plan on taking your motorhome away for long periods of time, or even plan on living full time in it then you will require a better mattress and bed. Also, do you need more than one bed? Will you take passengers, or will the motorhome just be for a couple? Will you want the flexibility to ‘make up’ a bed if required? Think about the future here as well, are your circumstances likely to change? Could your family get bigger – are there children or grandchildren on the horizon? Alternatively, are your teenagers about to fly the nest, and unlikely to holiday with you again?

Storage Space

Again this consideration is one that you will make based on what you need. Will you want to hang up clothes, for example? Does the wardrobe accommodate this? Will there be enough space for both you and your partner’s clothes? What about shoe storage? Again, if you’ll be using the motorhome for longer periods of time you will be likely to need more storage. Also, check that drawers, cupboards and other storage units close correctly, and have something in place to stop them coming open when you drive the motorhome – the last thing you want when you reach your destination is to have to tidy up! Make sure the kitchen has the space you need – again, this depends on the planned use of the motorhome.

Ask yourself what kind of meal you’ll be making, will you need an oven? Will a hob, kettle, microwave and toaster do? What size fridge do you actually need? Will you need a freezer? Does the kitchen have enough storage space for food and cooking utensils, crockery, cutlery and cleaning equipment? Again, if you’ll be away for longer periods of time, then the more you will need. Is the bathroom of a sufficient size? If you plan on staying at campsites with washing facilities, how often will you actually use the bathroom? If you’ll be staying places without washing facilities then you will need to use your onboard bathroom. Another top tip is to check the size of your water heater – if it’s not big enough then you (or your partner) will have to have a cold shower!

Weight & Size

Some medical conditions restrict you from driving large vehicles, so check that you can drive the vehicle legally, and safely. Also bear in mind where you will be driving this vehicle. If you’ll be driving down narrow country lanes, then the humongous motorhome you like the look of may not be the motorhome for you. Get the balance right between what storage space you need and the kinds of roads you’ll be driving on. There is no point in getting a motorhome if you dread driving it because it’s unwieldy and difficult to drive – how much pleasure can be had from a vehicle you hate driving?

And Finally…

Don’t forget to insure your motorhome! Buying the correct insurance for your vehicle and lifestyle couldn’t be easier with online quote forms and friendly staff on the end of the phone and expert motorhome insurance brokers to offer you the right policy, at the right price.