5 things you should look for before buying a camper van

When you retire buying a campervan, caravan or motorhome is one of the biggest investments you’ll make.

Just like buying a new car, it’s important you do your homework to get the best deal and stop yourself from getting ripped off.

Whether you’re buying brand new or second-hand, you can never be too careful or thorough.

Here are the five things you should look for before buying a campervan.

Read more: Your FAQs about campervanning answered

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1. The logbook/service history

You should always check the details of the vehicle against the log book. Checking the chassis number and engine number is especially important. You should also check the campervan’s history for police and insurance details such as any crashes or thefts. Check the logbook or service history to see if there has been any engine replacements, you should particularly look to see when the timing belt was last changed.

2. Leaks

Leaks – whether they be oil or water – are a bad sign in any vehicle.  Oil leaks can be very bad. Check for oil leaks by look underneath and around the engine. Check the ground underneath the campervan – if it’s free of oil slicks, then you’re in luck. Make sure there are no oil leaks coming from the gearbox. While all gearboxes will seep a little oil over the years, a dark black patch dripping with oil is a bad sign. Discoloured walls and damp marks are indicators of internal leaks, which can be particularly unpleasant when travelling.

3.  Damage to the body work/rust

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Walking the perimeter of the car is a good way to check for any damage to the campervan or any rust. Bent panels, dents, mismatched paint and scratches could all indicate the camper you’re looking at has been in an accident. It may seem like a cosmetic problem but rust can become a major issue in the future life of a campervan.  Check the car thoroughly, particularly around doors and windows for any spots of rust. Remember, an innocent looking patch could become something more sinister, such as frame rust.

4.  Engine issues

Take the campervan for a test drive. Unhealthy noises could be the first indication that something is wrong with the engine. You should also inspect the engine. Check the radiator is intact and healthy. Old radiators start falling apart from the bottom.  You should also check the oil level on the dipstick. If it’s low, that could be an indication the engine hasn’t been cared for. A blown head gasket is also something you should look for. It’s an expensive fix, which can be picked up monitoring whether lots of steam comes out of the exhaust or if there’s white residue on the oil dipstick. You should also check all your hoses and pipes are clean, not cracked or rusty.

5. Tyres and brakes

Your tyres and brakes are two of the biggest things keeping you safe on the road. When buying a campervan you should always check the quality of the tyres and brakes. Uneven tyre tread can be deadly – hiding a range of issues such as low pressure, worn absorbers, poor suspension or wheel misalignment. Bad tyres are also dangerous and highly illegal. Test the tyres baldness by sticking a match in the groove of the tread – it’s bald if you can see the match head! When it comes to your brakes, make sure the handbrake can hold the van on a hill.

Does this list sound familiar? What did you look for when you brought your campervan?