Looking for touring caravans to buy can be an extremely time-consuming business. To begin with, if you are new to buying a caravan you may not have thought of all the myriad possibilities and combinations that are available. If you are just a couple, perhaps you may want a two berth small caravan and that will do very nicely, thank you. However, if you have a family – and pets – you are definitely going to need something larger.
Two of the very first things to consider are how much space you have to store your caravan, and what you are going to tow it with. Obviously, if you have limited storage space you will be restricted as to the length of caravan that you can have. Furthermore, you will need a reasonably large car or 4 x 4 if you are going to tow a large caravan – you can't really tow a caravan with a Smart.
Do you want a new caravan or second-hand? If money is no object you may just want to walk into the local dealer and browse what they have in stock, and indeed many people do just that. However, the majority of people are looking for second-hand caravans and there are a couple of advantages in doing this. First, a second-hand caravan will hold its value much better than a new one which, just like a car, loses value the minute you take it out of the showroom. Second, if you have kids and pets you won't worry too much if there is the odd scratch or dent, whereas if the caravan was new you would probably be paranoid about it getting scratched! Another thing that can happen when buying a new caravan is delays in delivery which are always frustrating.
A Dealer Or Private Seller?
If you are buying second-hand there is the question of whether you should go to a dealer who will have a selection of trade-ins or search private sellers. One of the advantages of buying from a private seller is that of cost. There is no doubt that you can pick up some terrific bargains from time to time. However, you also need to be very wary and to ask a lot of questions. With a private seller you are getting no warranty, whereas with a dealer you usually are. The cost-saving of buying privately might be a trade-off for you as regards a warranty, but you still don't want something going wrong a month after you have made the purchase, because you are going to have to pay to get it fixed.
The benefits of buying from a dealer are that you will usually get a warranty, although you should check the expiry date and any small print. Furthermore, it is good to know that the law is on your side when you purchase from a dealer. The condition must be as described by the seller and it must be fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. The last point doesn't cover any defects which the seller has specifically brought to your attention. The Sale of Consumer Goods Regulations of 2003 allows the courts to order replacement or repair of defective goods, and also assumes that any defects found within six months from the date of sale must have been there at the time of sale, unless the seller can prove this was not the case.
In most cases the dealer will have serviced the caravan before putting on show, or will do so when you have ordered it. However, you should check the paperwork regarding the brakes and lights etc., because once you have taken delivery the roadworthiness or otherwise is your responsibility.
Most people who are buying new caravans will do so when the dealers have taken delivery in March, April, and May. The best time to buy second-hand is in the late autumn and January and February, because new sales slow down in autumn, and at the beginning of the year the dealers want to off-load second-hand stock in order to make space for the new, so you will probably get a much better deal at this time of the year than at any other.