“Have you got anything left to sell?” I witnessed one concerned couple shout to a salesperson the other day, looking at the dealer’s depleted stock of pre-owned motorhomes.
The recent surge in demand has seen many newcomers entering the market and this, along with the shortage of new vehicles, means the pre-owned sector is now under real pressure, with the selection becoming very limited.
So it’s time to be a bit clever. Is your preferred layout scarce? Is your budget limited? Here are 10 expert tips to help you track down a pre-owned bargain, despite the market being so tough.
1. Take some time to consider what sort of campsites you’re planning to use. If you intend to stay at sites that offer little in the way of facilities, you’re going to require a motorhome with a good washroom.
In addition, how many berths do you need? Are you looking for a fixed bed, and do you want a low-profile or an overcab vehicle?
Study the options and then visit a dealership to see the floorplan in the flesh. Does it work for you? Take detailed notes and lots of photos, and then you can weigh up the pros and cons.
2. Decide your budget, based on what you can afford, and aim never to go over it. Allow for extras you might need, such as a TV, bedding, crockery or levelling ramps.
If you buy from a dealership, you will almost certainly pay more, but that does give you the security of comeback if anything goes wrong. The dealer has to inspect the ‘van, ensure all is working and carry out any repairs needed.
Buying with no trade-in normally means a discount, but not at present – although the dealer might add some extras to seal the deal.
3. What is you find what looks like a good motorhome for a great price on an auction site? There are usually bargains to be had at auction, but you really have to know your stuff before you bid!
Beware scams, too, which are much more common these days. Never be rushed into sending a deposit or worse, full payment, before inspection. Some online customers have been conned into parting with their cash when there is no actual motorhome to buy – don’t hand over your money until you see the ‘van for real.
4. Main dealerships should be in possession of all of the records of service, paperwork and receipts of a motorhome being sold. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either, such as whether spare parts are easy to source and if the manufacturer or importer is still in business.
Always inspect the vehicle very carefully for signs of damp or poor repairs carried out over the years. Mileage isn’t usually a problem, as most motorhomes tend to have a low amount of miles clocked up.
The dealer will run through how things work – useful in complex modern motorhomes.
5. If you’re thinking about buying privately, extra care and attention will be required. Especially for first-timers, it is advisable to take along a friend (preferably one who owns a motorhome) when you view the ‘van.
Resist any sales pressure suggesting that other buyers are interested.
Ensure service inspections have been carried out. Ask the seller to operate the appliances and check the handbooks are in order. For more on what to check, we have more advice on how to check used motorhomes for sale.
6. Even if you have experience in buying or a well-informed friend to go with you, we’d strongly recommend a professional inspection. The essential to look for is damp, especially near windows and rear corners.
Carefully check over the cab area, too, and look for any signs of delimitation in the floors. An inspection will give the ‘van a damp test, if the seller gets fidgety, it could be a sign they have something to hide! Get a full report of any defects in the vehicle – you can use this if you decide to buy and want to haggle over the price.
7. Inside the motorhome, the appliances aren’t the only items to inspect. You also need to check the furniture fixings; with vibration when on the move lockers and units can work loose. Examine the floor, especially by the kitchen, where footfall is often heaviest – if the floor is very creaky or spongy, a repair will probably be needed.
Inspect the upholstery for sagging and signs of damage, and try all of the mattresses, which should still be supportive. Don’t forget to make sure the interior lights are working.
8. Yes, many of us really love touring with our pets, but there is nothing worse than the strong smell of dog in an otherwise well-maintained motorhome.
If you’re buying privately, don’t shy away from asking the sellers if they are pet-owners. Getting rid of dog odours isn’t always easy, and some otherwise good motorhomes have been severely disadvantaged by this problem.
Check for any chewed carpet or furniture edging, too – you sometimes see this when a dog (most likely a pup!) has gone through that pesky ‘chewing everything’ phase.
9. Whenever you view a potential purchase, remember to look out for added extras that can be included in the price or, in some cases, offered at extra cost.
Bike racks are a popular addition among keen cyclists allowing you to pop a couple of bikes on the back for trips out and about without having to use the ;van, which you can leave on-site.
Another very useful addition is a storage box, fitted either on the roof or at the back of the vehicle. Other valuable items to keep an eye out for include solar panels, TV aerials and perhaps a towbar – always handy to have.
10. In such a tough market, buyers will struggle to negotiate over prices or extras, but it’s worth having a go. You might be able to improve on a price, or add a piece of kit to the motorhome you’re buying.
Ask dealers about extra warranty if you’re looking for it, and enquire about kit, such as hook-up cables, if it’s on your list.
For private sales, it’s essential to verify the seller’s ownership of the vehicle. Finally and most importantly, don’t be rushed into buying and remember the golden rule – if for any reason you’re not sure, just walk away.
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Whenever you view a potential purchase, remember to look out for added extras that can be included in the price or, in some cases, offered at extra cost