Buying from a dealer
Buying from a dealer should be one of the best ways to get a good motorhome and good service. But how do you find a reputable dealer? The best way is, without doubt, by personal recommendation.
In reality bad dealers don’t last very long. Most dealers sell both new and second-hand motorhomes but in today’s hard economic climate some dealers are only selling pre-owned motor caravans. A local dealer close to your home is a great idea so it won’t be far to drive back to sort out any problems or for regular servicing.
Buying at a show
Shows are great places to see a wide range of new motorhomes. As well as big indoor exhibitions there are open-air shows all through the year and across the country. You’ll see all the latest layouts and styles and as the various dealers' sales people battle it out for orders you can get some great offers and discounts.
You may find the best price quoted by a dealer based many miles from your home. It may seem a good deal at the time, but will it seem the best value if there are any problems and you need to drive half way across the country to get them fixed under warranty? And would you need to trek back every time your unit needs a service? It’s worth considering all the costs involved (including your time) before committing to a purchase from a distant dealer.
Online auction sites such as eBay have motorhomes for sale and some of them are undoubtedly good value. But you do need to be careful. Always make sure the person selling the vehicle really owns it and be wary of parting with any money at all until you actually have possession of the motorhome.
You are probably familiar with the checking services available to those buying used cars, allowing you to check whether there’s any outstanding credit due on the vehicle, whether it’s been classed as an insurance write-off and the like.
The UK motorhome industry and HPI (a leading provider of vehicle checks for more than 70 years) teamed up in 2001 to provide the trade with a specialist motorhome service called MINDER. This is a vehicle security and asset registration system for motorhomes designed to help you avoid buying a stolen or fraudulently-obtained motorhome by recording the conversion details alongside the base vehicle details as seen on the vehicle's log book.
The majority of UK-built motorhomes coming off the production line between 2001 and 2007 carried a unique Motorhome Identification Number (MIN) alongside their Vehicle Indentification Number (VIN) and a Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM – or numberplate). The MIN should be etched on the motorhome and a ‘hidden’ electronic tag will be inside. Since 2007 the MIN has been replaced with other unique identifiers. All the relevant information is stored in the HPI database.
MINDER itself is a trade service (and you should make sure your dealer has done a check when buying), but you still can do your own research on the history of a motorhome online using HPI’s checking service or by calling 01722 422 422.
Another way of buying online
There are a number of websites that allow you to search through a selection of used motorhomes. Some allow you to specify make, model, number of berths and price before checking the stocks of dealers throughout the country.
Practical Motorhome magazine has one as does the Out and About live website (supported by Caravan, Motorhome and Camping Mart, MMM and Which Motorcaravan magazines) and caravanfinder.
All of these sites simply list motorhomes for sale from dealers or private individuals, so it’s still important to make sure the person selling the vehicle really owns it. HPI’s checking service is useful here (see above). And don’t part with a significant amount of money until you have possession of the motorhome.
Buying privately from a classified advert
The Camping and Caravanning Club magazine regularly has a selection of motorhomes advertised for sale in its classified advert section, as do the specialist motorhome magazines for sale in the usual shops. There are also a number of websites that carry classified adverts. Legally, any such advert must indicate if it's a genuine private sale or a trader offering their stock in this way.
These private adverts can sometimes prove to be excellent bargains but it bears repeating always make sure the person selling the vehicle really owns it and never part with a significant amount of money until you actually have possession of the motorhome.
You can check on the ownership of a motorhome with HPI’s checking service.
From a bloke in a pub car-park
Don’t laugh, people do buy motorhomes in shady deals from men in pub car parks. The motorhomes are often stolen. When the police track them down (and if it’s your motorhome that’s stolen you certainly hope they will), at best, you lose both your new vehicle and your hard-earned money.
At worst you’ll end up with a criminal record. If the bargain seems too good to be true that’s probably because it is.
Next we'll talk about driving your motorhome
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