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Your guide to buying a second-hand campervan

23 September 2019

Your guide to buying a second-hand campervan

For many Aussies, buying a campervan and hitting the open road sits at the top of their bucket list. But purchasing the right vehicle takes careful planning and plenty of research. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, below is a guide to getting your proverbial wheels in motion

Work out what model you need 

Campervans come in all shapes and sizes. If you plan to hit the road for months or years at a time, your daily requirements will be very different to someone who only wants to take shorter weekend getaways.

Size and features

You should also factor in the number of people you’ll be taking. Solo travellers or couples will need less room than families or groups of friends. There are several vehicle types within Australia that classify as motorhomes. These range from smaller vans to luxury RV-style motorhomes as big as buses. The main vehicle categories include the following:

● Campervans. The smallest vehicle of the lot. Most come with an added “pop-top” roof to create more headroom. They’re fuel efficient, easy to drive and ideal for weekend getaways. For longer trips or getaways with multiple people, they might feel a bit cramped.

● Larger Van Conversions. These are vans that have been converted into motorhomes, but they’re not fitted to a base frame (known as a chassis). They have a spacious interior and come with built-in bathroom facilities. They’re ideal for couples or singles.

● C and B Class Motorhomes. These are easily identified by the bed compartment, which fits snugly over the driver’s cabin. B Class vehicles are a little more refined in their design, but both models include a bathroom and can comfortably fit more than two people.

● A Class Motorhomes. These are the cream of the crop. Their clever storage ideas, sleek design and luxury inclusions make them a home away from home. Class A motorhomes are built on a truck chassis and don’t come with a separate cab. They’re ideal for people planning to hit the road for long periods of time.

Sort out your financing

Second-hand campervans will set you back anywhere from $7,500-$185,000, depending on the type of vehicle you’re after.

A car loan can be a good way of financing your vehicle without overextending yourself, allowing you to pay for it over a longer period of time. Make sure you research your financing options before locking yourself in – a bank loan can often work out to be cheaper than dealership finance.

Remember your hidden costs

It’s easy to be blindsided by the price of the van itself, but remember to factor in additional costs. These include larger expenses like vehicle registration and insurance, as well as smaller everyday items such as gas cylinders, water, a fridge, spare tyres and wheel bearings.

If possible, see if you can negotiate for these smaller items to be included as part of the sale. This may help to lower the cost of your overall spend and help streamline your finances.

Choose the right purchasing channel

Once you’ve got your financing sorted and know what vehicle model you’re after, it’s time to start looking at sellers. Second-hand buyers have three main purchasing channels to choose from:

● Second-hand dealership: A second-hand dealership is recommended for budget-conscious buyers with minimal experience with campervans. A dealer can help you find the right vehicle for your needs and will have access to a broad range of models.

● Private seller: These can mostly be found online or in newspaper ads. When inspecting the vehicle, make sure you check the logbook, engine and chassis number and take plenty of photos. It can also be worth getting a professional inspection by a mechanic before going ahead with the purchase.

● Motor auction. Here you’ll find some of the cheapest campervans on the market, but this is often due to an issue or fault with the vehicle. Auctions generally aren’t recommended unless you’re an experienced campervan driver who knows how to spot a bargain.

Buying a campervan or motorhome is a big financial commitment. Make sure you look at suitable vehicle models, source appropriate financing and go through a reputable seller. Once you have these important steps sorted, you’ll be ready to set out on your next adventure! If you need some inspiration, check out our Top 5 Australian road trips

By Taylor Blackburn

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