Best Guide for Buying a Used Caravan to Tour Australia

Last updated on 24 July, 2023

Buying a used caravan to tour Australia? If so, there are several things to consider to ensure you make the right choice, as buying a used caravan requires careful research and inspection to avoid costly mistakes. Our guide has all the information needed to make an informed decision when finding a second hand caravan suitable for your needs within your budget.

The decision to travel around Australia in a caravan is exciting. Buying a preloved caravan can be overwhelming, with hundreds of different models and makes on the market. By following our guide, from checking the caravan condition to researching the market, we will cover all the essential steps to help you have the knowledge and confidence to find the perfect caravan for your needs.

So, let us get started and get you on the road to travel around Australia!

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Buying a used caravan to tour Australia

Buying a Used Caravan to Tour Australia

Caravan v Motorhome v Camper Trailer?

For travelling around Australia, is a caravan the best option or a motorhome or a camper trailer? There are, of course, pros and cons to all these options.

Caravans are a popular choice for those who want a home away from home, with the comforts of a house. They are spacious, well-equipped, and offer a lot of storage space. We also chose a caravan for the convenience of being able to unhitch for sightseeing. Caravans are heavy, costly to tow and constantly need maintenance.

Related read: 7 Ways to Improve the Fuel Efficiency of Cars Towing a Caravan

Motorhomes also have the comforts of home and usually a good amount of storage space. It is also not possible to unhitch for sightseeing, although some people get around this by towing a small vehicle. Generally, motorhomes cost significantly more for the same size and age.

Camper trailers come into their own when adventuring into remote areas. They are lighter and more robust than most caravans but require more set up, storage is limited and packing up in the wet is ghastly. Still, we plan to do a lap of Australia with an offroad camper trailer to see more remote, outback regions our caravan could not reach.

Is it a Good Idea to Buy an Second Hand Caravan?

Buying a second hand caravan in Australia can be a good idea if the buyer is well-informed and takes the necessary precautions. New caravans are expensive and often out of reach financially for many, so the used market is the best and only option.

Purchasing a used caravan has risks, but with some precautions and checks, it is possible to find one perfect for travelling Australia. Please keep reading to learn more.

Do Second Hand Caravans Hold Their Value?

Caravans are a depreciating asset, meaning like a car, as the more time passes, the less it is worth. Although, during the pandemic, when overseas travel was near impossible, domestic travel in caravans grew expeditiously, increasing prices. We even met people who sold their caravans for more than they paid.

Daryl and I have been in the market to upgrade our caravan and have noticed prices are coming down again as overseas travel has opened up. Also, it would be reasonable to assume the rising cost of living means fewer people want to buy caravans, so the demand on the market has decreased.

Overall, second-hand caravans can hold their value longer if they are well-maintained and in good condition. However, like any vehicle, the value will decrease over time and with use.

What is the Best Way to Buy a Caravan? Private Seller v Dealer

When buying a used caravan to tour Australia, most want to be confident they got a good deal. There are no particular reasons to buy from a private seller or a dealer other than a dealer may offer a warranty and have access to a workshop for any repairs if needed. 

Our tips, whether buying from a private seller or a dealer:

  • Do what you are comfortable with. Do not buy from either if it makes you uncomfortable.
  • Use the internet to search for other caravans of the same age and similar make or style to get an idea of the price range so you know if the asking price is reasonable.
  • Be willing to ask for a better deal. We found dealers would offer to knock down the ticket price as soon as we showed an interest in a caravan. The private seller we bought Josephine from listed her for $11000 and accepted our offer of $9500. 
  • Be willing to walk away. There are so many caravans available for sale on the second hand market. Walk away from any deal that is not or does not feel good. 
Buying a used pop top caravan

Useful Tips on Inspecting a Used Caravan

Do a Personal Property Securities Register Check

Accessing the Personal Property Security Register (PPSR) is vital when buying from a private seller. For only $2, a search certificate is issued stating if a vehicle, including a caravan, has:

  • any money owing,
  • make, model and colour,
  • written off status, and
  • stolen status. 

A PPSR search does not include information about:  

  • The amount of money owed on the vehicle
  • The vehicle owner or history of ownership
  • Odometer reading
  • Outstanding fines

To do a PPSR search, you need:

  • a credit or debit card
  • the car’s VIN or chassis number

What to Look When Buying a Used Caravan?

Buying a used caravan is a big financial commitment. Therefore the one bought must be in good condition, undamaged and maintained. Of course, it is unrealistic to expect used caravans will have no wear or tear. It should still function and operate safely unless it is being purchased to renovate and fix. 

Tips for a thorough caravan inspection:

  • Carry out the inspection in daylight hours 
  • Take a torch to illuminate dark areas
  • 240v phone charger to test the electrical outlets
  • Take your time; do not let the seller rush you
  • Be prepared to get underneath the caravan (dress appropriately)
  • Have the seller connect the caravan to mains power
  • Ask questions of the seller 

Be sure to check over all areas of the caravan, both externally and internally:

  • Externally:
    • Exterior walls 
    • Roof
    • Pop Top and skirt
    • Chassis
    • Axles 
    • Tyres
    • Suspension
    • Under body and underfloor
    • Water and other tanks
    • Solar panels
    • Gas connections and gauge
    • Windows and entry door
    • Exterior lights
    • Jockey wheel
    • Awning
    • External storage or boot
    • Wiring
    • Battery and inverter
  • Internally
    • Inside cupboards and cupboards doors
    • Under bed and chair storage
    • Appliances (stove, oven, fridge etc)
    • Interior lights
    • Interior walls
    • Windows and window dressings
    • Floor
    • Ceiling
    • Beds (including mattress)
    • Lounge chairs and table
    • Air Conditioner
    • Keys (do they fit all the locks)
    • Electrical outlets

Look carefully for signs of damage and deterioration by checking for:

  • Externally and internally:
    • Rust and corrosion 
    • Discolouring
    • Blistering
    • Damp
    • Cracks
    • Dents 
    • Scratches or marks
    • Mould
    • Warping
    • Stiffness 
    • Parts missing
    • Water stains
    • Patch up paint 
    • Leaks
    • Hail damage (maybe uninsurable)
    • Cleanliness
    • Poor ventilation
    • Insects and ants
    • Altered or missing VIN or chassis numbers
    • Decals and repaint (may be covering over problems)
Second caravan for touring Australia

What Questions Should You Ask When Buying a Used Caravan?

It is necessary to ask questions of the seller when buying a preloved caravan and pay attention to how the seller answers. Do they answer thoroughly and without avoiding your actual question? Do their answers fit with what you are seeing or logically make sense? 

There is no limit to how many questions should be asked. Here are some ideas of what questions to ask, but ask whatever you need to in addition to this list:

  • How many owners has the caravan had?
  • How long has the current owner owned the caravan?
  • Why are the current owners selling?
  • Where has the caravan been stored?
  • Where has the caravan been used?
  • Are there any issues with the caravan?
  • What has been repaired or fixed on the caravan?
  • Have any alterations been made to the caravan?
  • How does each of the appliances etc work? 
  • Is the service history and all certificates available?

The decision to buy a used caravan is exciting. We hope you find the caravan perfect for you. Safe travels!

Related read: Kitting Out Your Caravan and Car for an Incredible Trip Around Australia


Buying a preloved caravan

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