Are you thinking of buying a used motorhome privately? Then there are some important choices and interior checks to be made when you pick your next motorhome.

Take notes while you are assessing the ’van and use any repairs that are required to bargain the price down.

Before viewing, and even if you’re not intending to, ask the vendor if you can have it checked by an AWS-approved technician. If they have anything to hide, they won’t get back to you to arrange your viewing.

Lounge / dinette checks

The lounge / dinette in a motorhome

Trust your nose

How does the motorhome smell when you first step inside? If it smells damp or fusty, walk away or take extra time with your damp checks. Be very wary of over-fragranced interiors, or ’vans with the door and windows all open when you arrive. If they’re baking bread, just run!

Curtain up

Do all of the blinds pull out and retract properly?

Firm support

Ensure the foam cushions in the upholstery haven’t sagged or slumped from repeated use. Upholstery should retain its bounce and springiness, returning quickly to its original shape.

Cushion cover

Motorhome upholstery is generally very durable, but bad batches can creep through. Look for wear on edges. I once saw a luxury ’van with stylish PVC piping on its sofas. The ’van was newish but well used, and the PVC had started to crack and peel. Replacement upholstery could run into thousands of pounds.

Tabletop

Set up the freestanding dining table. Can the whole family sit around it comfortably? Does the top extend properly?

On the carpet

Investigate the condition of the carpets. Anyone can spend a day tarting up their ’van for sale, but dirty, damaged carpets are harder to hide, and a sign the vehicle hasn’t been cared for as well as the vendor is suggesting.

In good trim

It might be superficial, but check all decorative trims are properly fixed. Motorhomes have lots of colour-coordinated panels and elegant styling touches, but these can come loose.

Dinner for two

The dinette area of a motorhome with the driver's seats swivelled inwards

Can you all get around the dining table when it’s set up in the lounge? Can two of you dine or snack easily at the extended table? Is the dinette big enough for you all? A slightly-too-small dinette is a waste of vital space.

On the radio

Check the radio/MP3 player is functioning as it should.

Bed time

If the sofas will become beds for kids or guests, are they long enough? Take a tape measure and check.

The sofas in a motorhome lounge

Charging up

Are there sufficient plug points and USB charging points in the ’van?

Beds/washroom checks

In the corner

Check for damp in all of the key places around windows and in corners, including under beds/sofas and in overhead lockers.

Lighten up

Check that all of the interior lights are in good working order.

On the mattress

What condition is the mattress in? Has it had a protective cover on? Replacement motorhome mattresses typically cost anywhere from £150 to £400. You might want to factor that in.

Back to base

Do the hydraulic dampers on the bed bases work properly? Can you lift them up easily?

Plan ahead

Future-proof your purchase by considering how fast any kids are likely to grow in the next two or three years. Will bunks/beds be big enough if your early-teen becomes a six-footer in 18 months? Should you go for a twin-lounge layout now? You might as well be ignored from the far end of the motorhome!

Heat and light

Check the heating and facility control panels work by asking the vendor to turn on the water heater before you arrive, and the Alde heating, if it is fitted. Blown-air heating can be checked easily for heat and circulation.

Renew the loo

You might want to allow for the cost of a toilet renewal kit from Thetford. These include a new seat and lid, plus a fresh cassette. They cost around £100 to £150.

Kitchen checks

The kitchen in a motorhome

Mind the gap

Panel fit is crucial as it indicates the rigidity and structural integrity of the ’van. Look for (uneven) gaps between cupboards and wall panels. A millimetre or so is generally acceptable, but if it’s any bigger than that, it might be wise to walk away, or at least have the vehicle checked over professionally.

Suits you

It may be cool and chic but does the layout suit your touring lifestyle? Will you be making up the bed each evening? And is it easy to do? Check the bed base slides out easily. Do the sofa bases need to be turned, and can you do it?

Water marks

Look for leaks under the sink and basin, and around the base and edges of the shower unit.

Keep cool

Make sure that the fridge is working by asking for it to be turned on ready for your arrival. Do all the hob rings work, plus the grill, oven and microwave?

Looking for more tips and advice to help you buy the ideal motorhome for you? Then be sure to head to our Back to Basics – Buying a van category, where you can find plenty of ideas that will help you buy the perfect ‘van for you!


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