Guide to buying a new motorhome
Thinking of taking the plunge and buying a brand new motorhome? Read on, because the following might not only save you thousands of pounds, it could give you a whole lot more peace of mind.
Do your motorhome research
Unlike caravans, there is a massive choice of motorhome out there, so you need to be extra aware of the make and model you want and what exactly you are getting for your money. Information is king, at every point of your purchase journey.
Regular reading of the specialist motorhome magazines such as MMM, Practical Motorhome and Which Motorhome, will not only keep you up to date with news, but also give you a general feel for the market as a whole.
A visit to your local dealer(s) early on is a good idea, too. Here, you’ll soon get a feel for the kind of service you can expect, and it’s ideal to have the opportunity for “just browsing”.
Do take in some of the specialist shows, such as those organised by the industry’s trade body (the National Caravan Council), which takes place each February and October at Birmingham’s NEC.
Meeting owners themselves is another great way to find out more. If you’re visiting a campsite, e.g. you’ll find most owners are only too willing to talk about their pride and joy!
Draw up a list of items you’d like in your dream motorhome – then divide it into essentials and desirables. This is a perfect way of sorting what you really need and what you might just like. The floorplan of the living quarters should be your starting point for deciding what vehicle is best suited to you. It’s not just about the bedroom / seating / washing / sleeping configurations. Check out key dimensions too, such as standing height, bed sizes etc, as well as the ergonomics of making beds, washing-up, the process of using the washroom facilities, as well as storage.
Travel arrangements are critical, too. Although most new motorhomes are bought and used by couples, they often want the facility to carry occasional extra passengers, especially grandchildren. Also consider motorhome storage or rather where you plan to keep your motorhome when not in use.
Where to buy
There are a lot less than ten thousand new motorhomes registered each year. This is a highly specialised sector. Mainstream makes are sold in the normal way, via a network of retail outlets. These will be independent operators (very rarely are these actually owned by the manufacturer) who, in most cases will have a number of official franchises.
There are alternatives. A number of smaller-scale converters sell direct rather than through agents. One advantage here is the vehicles could cost less and/or tend to be a bit more specialist. The big disadvantage though is it could involve a lot of travel for you – not just to go and view, but also when it comes to servicing and repair work etc.
There are also a large number of small set-ups that produce bespoke conversions to individual design and order.
Do check the provenance of your dealership/supplier. How long have they been trading under their current name, what after-sales facilities do they boast, etc? Are they part of any authorised network, such as the Approved Workshop Scheme, etc?
If you really are new to motorhoming, a great way to check things out initially is to hire. It’s perfect for finding out how a motorhome performs – both on the road and on site.
Many sales folk are keen motorcaravanners themselves. It sometimes helps but the key thing is the level of service they are going to give you. The best dealers recognise the purchase and subsequent care of a motorhome is a long-term affair, so they should work hard to keep your custom. These are complex machines designed to serve a multitude of purposes. And, things can go wrong. That’s when you’ll be glad to have the back-up of a customer-friendly dealership.
The price of your purchase depends on many things, including part-exchanges and even the time of year you buy. Prices vary massively, so budget to spend a little bit more – on accessories and the like – after you’ve made your initial purchase.
If you really are new to motorhomes and just want to give the activity a try, seriously consider a lower-price previously owned motorhome as a starting point before taking the plunge and buying brand new.