When, like millions before you, you finally accept that life is not complete without a camper van, the big question remains: which model is right for you?
New or used?
As with cars, camper van buyers tend to fall instinctively into the new or used camp. For some, the delight of being the first and original owner is paramount and cannot be tarnished by mundane logic.
For others, far greater value is found by buying a pre-loved vehicle: for the sake of a few thousand miles on the clock, you can enjoy a higher spec than your budget would otherwise allow.
But, if you are attracted by the ‘quality used’ approach, then do make sure to buy from a reputable dealer like Travelworld, safe in the knowledge that it has been fully checked and maintained prior to resale.
Essential checklist for a used van
Buying a used vehicle is the favoured route for many – yet it presents a whole new set of considerations, to ensure you avoid any hidden ‘nasties’.
- Generally speaking, go for youth over low mileage. These vans should be good for many, many miles but will inevitably show their age over time. So, a younger van with higher mileage is often a safer bet than an older model with low mileage.
- For many of us, assessing the engine and mechanics is something best left to the professionals. A check of the service history is often a better indicator to the untrained eye. However, you can inspect the level and colour of the oil and other fluids, as a sign of the way this van has been maintained.
- Indeed, very low mileage can be a warning sign in itself. Any vehicle left unused on a drive for too long can be prone to various mechanical and other issues.
- Check the bodywork. In most cases rust is not an issue these days but nevertheless, a visual check of the wheel arches, rubber seals, the boot floor, under the carpets, and around the doors and headlights should reveal any degradation.
- A well-maintained interior is especially important in a vehicle you will call ‘home’ for significant periods. Not so much dirt, as this can be cleaned, but any rips and breakages should be noted and raised with the seller. Similarly, signs of smoking and pets may seem insignificant initially but can prove challenging once you take ownership.
- The state of tyres will not only reveal the life remaining before the next change but can also indicate any issues with wheel alignment.
It’s not all about the purchase price. Fuel efficiency, insurance costs, service and maintenance charges and resale value are all part of the bigger picture.
Size can be everything
People love camper vans for many different reasons. That’s precisely why there’s such a variety on offer. The key thing is to understand what YOU want from it.
If you envisage cosy breaks for two, then don’t waste money (and fuel) on a huge vehicle. Instead, look into chic camper vans that are nifty, mobile and snug. But if it’s major family excursions that appeal, then check that the number and size of facilities such as berths, washrooms, kitchen and dining areas are adequate for you and all your guests.
As well as having the right amenities, your enjoyment of any camper van may hinge on the quality of finish. There is a vast difference between cheap-and-cheerful models, designed as an affordable getaway, and the more palatial offerings which resemble a top hotel-on-wheels – and come with a price tag to match.