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Buying a Used Motorhome – 21 Factors to Consider

If you like the idea of owning a motorhome, it will likely cost a lot because buying one can be expensive. However, if your budget is limited, there is a way of saving yourself some money.

Buying a used motorhome is an excellent way to get your foot on the motorhome ownership ladder. It’s also a good way of upgrading to a different model without breaking the bank.

As you might imagine, a second-hand motorhome is more affordable than buying a new one. However, there are some things you need to understand and check if you want to avoid your pre-loved motorhome being a lemon.

Is Buying a Used Second-Hand Motorhome Worth It?

There are many advantages to buying a new motorhome online or in person. But are there any that make purchasing a secondhand motorhome a viable option? Let’s look at some of the reasons why many people think a pre-loved motorhome is worth it.

No VAT

No VAT

The price of a new motorhome can be £40,000 or more. On top of that, you also have 20% VAT to worry about. If your first motorhome is going to be a new one, you may find VAT is included in the price. However, it’s best to double-check before you finalise the deal.

If you buy a secondhand motorhome online or in person, you might have to pay a small amount of VAT, but nowhere near as much as 20%.

Lower Depreciation Rates

As soon as you buy a new motorhome it will start to depreciate as you drive it off the forecourt.

Buy a second-hand motorhome, on the other hand, and you’ll save thousands on the price of a new one.

Aim for a model that’s no more than three years old to get the biggest bang for your buck. The first owner will have borne the initial depreciation during those three years. You’ll benefit from owning a recreational vehicle with all the latest mod cons and tech installed for £10,000 or even less.

No Teething Troubles

Buying a brand-new motorhome doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be plain sailing and problem free. It’s not uncommon for some models to have issues straight away. It might be problems with the electrics, dampness, or other issues.

Yes, such problems are generally covered by the warranty when you buy new ones. However, if the motorhome you purchase is a few years old, someone else will have sorted out the teething troubles. You will benefit from their hard work as long as it has been done right.

All the Added Extras at No Cost

First-time motorhome owners tend to get caught up in the excitement and invest in all the little extras. We’re talking about the motorhome layout but the air-con, satellite TV, solar panels, awnings, and more.

A pre-loved motorhome owner can benefit from all these purchases without any need to pay for them.

A quick tip is to ensure all the extras function as designed before you part with your money.

Care Packages

It’s not unusual for a reputable dealer of second-hand motorhomes to throw in some extras to secure the deal. Ask for a free inspection, or damp test carried out, a warranty, the first year’s road tax for free, or anything else you’re cheeky enough to ask for.

Another advantage is that the dealer may be the one that sold it new in the first place. This means they’ll be aware of any niggles and have evidence of its service history.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

While there are plenty of advantages, let’s not forget to mention the downsides.

  • You’re not buying new, so there could be considerable wear and tear.
  • Some items may need to be replaced, repaired, or upgraded.
  • Unexpected repairs further down the road may affect your budget.
  • If your heart is set on a particular model, you may need to wait.

What are the Most Important Inspections and Factors to Consider When Choosing a Used Motorhome?

What are the Most Important Inspections and Factors to Consider When Choosing a Used Motorhome?

There are many things to consider when looking at buying a used motorhome.

Motorhome Type

There are several types of motorhomes. Check out each one and make sure you understand the advantages of each before you make your final decision.

Decide whether you’re looking for a van conversion, an A-class, or a coachbuilt motorhome, for example.

There’s also a campervan to consider, and these are different again. A campervan is a much smaller vehicle that you can use for camping. However, most have no washroom facilities.

Do you want something bigger? Try various A-class models or an American coachbuilt motorhome.

To help you make the right decision, think about how you will use your motorhome, how many people will be tagging along, and where you plan to park. Also, consider where you’ll store your motorhome and how much your insurance premiums will be.

Motorhome Weights and Payloads

A motorhome’s weight and payload are other vital factors. An off-the-shelf motorhome will be built to tight specifications. Generally, manufacturers try to keep their motorhomes within the light truck category or with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of less than 3500kg.

Heavy motorhomes tend to have high ownership costs. For example, registration, road tax, and fuel consumption will cost more.

Proper Research

If you do your research, it’s more likely that you’ll find an RV that suits your needs. There’s plenty of information out there, as long as you know where to look.

The internet is a goldmine when it comes to information. In addition, there are specialist publications and forums.

At every opportunity, speak to other owners, attend motorhome shows, and speak to friends. Listen to everyone’s comments, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

You won’t regret taking your time with this part of the buying process. Better it takes years to find the right one, rather than jumping in too soon and then regretting your decision.

You might also consider hiring a motorhome for a few weeks to see if you’re making the right choice.

Budget

Budget

If this is your first motorhome purchase, it might be best to spend as little as you can. Try to keep back a portion of your budget just in case of any emergencies. You might also want to add some motorhome accessories later, once you’ve got a feel for the motorhome experience.

Extra Equipment Required

Modern motorhomes come with a wide variety of features and facilities, including all the comforts of home.

Before looking at motorhomes, list the items you really need, those you want, and those you can do without.

Consider the following when making your list:

  • Type of heating: radiator or blown air
  • Hot water
  • Fridge/freezer
  • Cooking facilities
  • Storage space
  • Seating
  • Bed space
  • Solar panels
  • Awning
  • Bike rack
  • TV receiving equipment
  • Wi-Fi
  • Reversing camera system
  • Sat-Nav

Not all of these are essential. Some you can add later and upgrade your motorhome retrospectively.

Understand Industry Terms and Jargon

As with many things in the modern world, there’s some lingo you’ll need to learn. Understanding the jargon will help you when it comes to speaking with dealers. Although, a good dealer will always be willing to help and explain anything you’re unsure about.

Some of the terms you’ll need to research include:

  • Payload
  • Motorhome types
  • Water ingress
  • Berths – travel and sleeping
  • Base vehicle

Motorhome Driving Licence Requirements

5 Min

You’re probably wondering what kind of motorhome you can drive on your licence.

What you can and can’t drive on your licence depends on your age and the motorhome’s maximum authorised mass (MAM).

Most motorhomes of standard size are built with a MAM of 3,500kg. This means you can drive it on a normal licence.

Do a Thorough Inspection

Before buying a used motorhome, do a thorough inspection. It might not be your primary home, but your motorhome is still a significant investment. First impressions count, but they’re not all you should go by.

There are many things you should be taking a very close look at. For example, check the following features and make sure they’re all in good condition:

  • Ensure that the base vehicle is sound. Some engines are more reliable than others. Mercedes, VW, and Fiat Ducato all make good base engines.
  • Check the mechanical service history and that the motorhome was serviced at the correct intervals, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Check that the owner has been using the correct motor oil.
  • Water ingress can be a big issue, so check for moisture and dampness issues using a moisture meter.
  • There should be no internal signs of mould and mildew. Their absence indicates that the motorhome is well-ventilated and insulated.
  • Check the furniture and cupboards for signs of excessive wear.
  • Inspect the skylights, windows, and ceiling for moisture leaks.
  • An important feature of your motorhome is the beds. Make them up and try them out to ensure they’re comfortable and easy to put together.
  • Another crucial feature is the toilet and bathroom. Check how easy the toilet is to operate and keep clean. Is there sufficient storage space?
  • Test all the appliances, particularly the oven, central heating, water pump, and fridge.
  • Check the heating system is working efficiently and that there is sufficient ventilation so you can leave the heating on overnight if you’re camping in the winter.
  • Check the gas bottle and its connections and ensure it works by leaving the heater on for a while.
  • Check the exterior of the motorhome for signs of repair work and damage.
  • Rust could be a problem if the motorhome was frequently used in coastal or mountainous areas.
  • Check the certification for the gas bottle is current.
  • Look closely at the tyres and check they’ve got sufficient tread.
  • Salt and grit used on the roads in winter can be corrosive, so check the underside of the motorhome for corrosion.
  • Look out for signs of botched DIY work.
  • Try all the lights, inside and outside, to ensure they work.
  • A final check should include the add-ons such as solar panels, satellite dishes, and bike racks. It would be best if you look to see that they’ve been correctly fitted.

Have an HPI check

An HPI check is a vehicle check that’s provided by HPI Ltd. HPI stands for Hire Purchase Investigation. It looks at the history of any motorised vehicle registered in the UK, including motorhomes.

An HPI check may reveal the following:

  • Whether the vehicle is stolen
  • Whether there is outstanding finance on the vehicle
  • If the vehicle has previously been written off
  • Whether the V5 document is part of a stolen batch
  • The vehicle details: make, model, colour, engine size, door plan, engine size, and transmission.
  • Whether there has been a vehicle plate transfer
  • VIN/chassis numbers and number plate

Basic HPI Check

This HPI check will give you basic information such as outstanding finance, whether the motorhome is stolen, and if it’s been written off or scrapped.

Prices for a basic HPI check generally start from £10

Full HPI Check

A full HPI check will provide you with more information, such as MOT history, outstanding finance, number of owners, and more.

Prices for a full HPI check start at £30 but can be as high as £50. This may sound like a lot, but it has to be worth it for your peace of mind.

Research After-Sale Service

When you’re purchasing a used motorhome, it’s not just about the sale. Something else that’s significantly important is the after-sales service you might get.

If you buy from a private individual, there’s likely to be no such thing, but you should expect much more with a dealer.

Connect With a Well-Established Dealer

A well-established dealer is worth their weight in gold. They will take care of many aspects, such as an HPI check. You can also rest assured that everything will be in good working order.

A dealer also has legal requirements they must comply with. For example, any motorhome they sell must be roadworthy and safe for use on-site.

OMC Motorhomes is a well-established dealer you can rely on. The team has more than 60 years of combined industry experience and has sold over 10,000 campervans and motorhomes.

We know what people are looking for in a motorhome and deliver an amazing experience for every customer. Our customers trust us and always come back when they want to upgrade.

Check All Documentation

You need the following paperwork before you agree to make the purchase:

  • V5c slip that’s been correctly completed
  • Any relevant warranty information
  • Service history
  • Purchase receipt that has your correct details and the registration number
  • Instruction manuals for any appliances

Take It for a Test Drive

Take for a Test Drive

Taking the vehicle for a test drive is something you must do. Don’t be rushed; take your time and thoroughly check the motorhome’s performance. Listen for any unexpected or unusual rattles and noises. Also, look closely for signs of mechanical wear. Overheating, smoke, and burning oil are signs there could be something seriously wrong.

Ask a friend, relative, or partner to come with you for the test drive. They can test the motorhome from the point of view of a passenger.

When satisfied with your checks and the test drive, you might want to organise a pre-purchase inspection. Getting the opinion of a qualified mechanic is important, especially if buying motorhomes from private sellers.

How Much Does a Used Motorhome Cost?

The price of used motorhomes varies considerably, depending on the age, condition, mileage, and other factors.

If you want a motorhome in good condition, you can expect to pay a minimum of £25,000. But if you want a nearly new top-brand motorhome with all the bells and whistles, you could find yourself spending a six-figure sum.

For more information, check our post on how much motorhomes cost.

Buying Privately or From a Motorhome Dealer

You have two options if you want to purchase a used motorhome: buy the motorhome privately or buy from a dealer.

Tips When Buying Privately

  • Make sure the person selling the motorhome owns the vehicle by checking the V5C document and buying directly from their home.
  • Ask the seller for some identification, such as their driving licence.
  • Private sellers tend to be cheaper than buying a used motorhome from a local dealer, but there will be no warranty or guarantee
  • Ask them why they’re selling
  • Ask for copies of the MOT tests and service receipts for the last few years
  • Check the service history and whether a recognised dealer has stamped it
  • Before you go to look at the campervan, ask the owner for the registration number so you can check its history via the DVLA website

Tips When Buying From a Dealer

  • Dealers tend to offer some kind of warranty, which is a positive thing. However, you must ask about the details of what’s covered and ask for evidence in writing.
  • A motorhome dealer will usually do all the necessary checks such as damp testing, engine service, clean it thoroughly, and check the condition of the motorhome
  • There may be minor defects that the motorhome dealer agrees to fix, but you must get this in writing to save any future disputes
  • Dealers are legally obliged to sell motorhomes that are roadworthy and safe
  • Make sure you inspect the documentation closely
  • A used motorhome from a dealer may cost more than from a private buyer, but you should have more confidence that the motorhome is not going to break down and will at least get you home

Conclusion

If you’re considering purchasing a used motorhome, approach the deal with caution. You’ll be making a significant investment, so you must do your due diligence. You’ll also need to organise motorhome insurance before you drive your purchase away.

If you like the idea of buying from a reputable motorhome dealer, check out what used motorhomes are available at OMC Motorhome. With several decades of experience in the trade, you know you’re getting a good deal when buying used motorhome models, and will be looked after.

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