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Caravan Show - guide to buying a caravan

Are you considering buying a new caravan at one of the forthcoming Caravan Shows?

If so, you may want to consider the folllowing "top 10 tips to buying a caravan" produced by the well known caravan journalist, Nick Harding, in conjunction with the established Midlands caravan dealership, Broad Lane Leisure.

Caravan and Motorhome Show

Caravan buyers guide - top ten tips

Prove provenance

Always deal with a caravan dealer you know. The stands at the main Caravan Shows e.g. the NEC Motorhome and Caravan Show, are staffed by representatives from caravan dealers across the whole country. They are not obliged tell you where they are based until asked. Is it really worth venturing into the unknown considering the size of your investment?

Your best friend, the caravan salesman?

Think about it, how can someone you’ve never met before become a friend for life within ten minutes of meeting you... he may have a great smile, charisma and nice aftershave but what's his pedigree?

It’s not all about price

Think value, not price. Consider aspects such as the cost in terms of fuel as well as your time, especially when involved with dealing remotely with someone a long way from home. Will you be a name… or a number? Will you always be their priority?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Even if you think you recognise a caravan dealership’s name, it’s time to turn detective to ascertain things like:

Check caravan product knowledge

Does the caravan salesman know what he or she is selling? Some caravan dealers employ agency workers - professional sellers just for the duration of a caravan show. They could be selling cars next week! Often a key indicator is if a salesperson doesn’t seem to know much about the product he/she is selling or is reluctant to offer any kind of demonstration.

Think of the all-round service

Despite what others might say, there is no such thing as an obligatory national caravan warranty scheme for any caravan manufacturer. Your contract is with your supplying dealer, he is responsible for all aspects of any warranty work. Your local dealer is NOT obliged to absorb third party warranty work - whatever you are told!

Approved Workshops are best

Ideally, your caravan dealer will operate its servicing under the Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS), as administered by the trade body, the National Caravan Council (NCC). Always ask for hard evidence that a dealer is part of the Approved Workshops Scheme (and feel free to double-check e.g. on the NCC’s own stand at the NEC show).

Trading in?

Things can get slightly trickier if you’re trading in your existing caravan, especially at a show where there’s no opportunity to see your current ‘van. Again, a good caravan dealer will always accurately qualify it's condition and ask the right questions about service records, amount of usage etc (it’s even better if the dealer already knows your ‘van, of course. That way you’ll get the most honest trade-in evaluation). Beware those offering high prices for your ‘van at the show, only to have it knocked down when you arrive to do a part-exchange.

Get it all on paper

If you are offered any deal, especially one involving a part-exchange, make sure you get an agreed proper description of what you both expect in writing. A figure for your part-exchange scribbled onto the back of a business card will not constitute a fair and accurate appraisal of your ‘van; however, it makes for an ideal way for a dealer to easily mistranslate what you agreed with his salesperson.

Prices will go up

It’s a sure-fire guarantee that manufacturers will raise the prices of their caravans straight after this show. You might want to build that into your thoughts... and make sure any agreements factor this in. Do not get bamboozled into a deal, which on face value looks fantastic, but turns into a nightmare when reality strikes and the dealer starts messing you around.

Finally, once you have made your caravan purchase don't forget the benefits of comprehensive caravan insurance to help protect your investment.

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