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Shapes and sizes‘Motorhome’ can describe anything from a small van conversion to a coach-sized king of the road. Here are the most common variations which Black Horse can help to provide finance for:
CompactUsually under six metres in length, compacts combine good manoeuvrability with the extra facilities and space of larger motorhomes.
Often called ‘overcabs’, these are basically specially built whole units added to the cab and chassis of popular mid-size vans, with a bed area over the cab.
Essentially the same as a coachbuilt, but without the ‘overcab’ bed arrangement.
Here, the motorhome manufacturer builds the entire motorhome body, including the cab, onto the chassis. Only the motor drive unit and dashboard come from the chassis supplier.
This gives manufacturers significant scope for stylish body design and practical features like insulated double floors, garage-style storage areas and roomy lounges. They’re often built to customer specification, with personalised additional equipment – which is why they’re usually the most expensive.
Check before you buyBuying a new motorhome can be a daunting experience, especially for the uninitiated, so here are a few tips to help you make the most of your investment:
- Be flexible and open to suggestions, but make a list of things you want from your motorhome before you set foot on the dealer’s forecourt.
- Maybe hire before you buy. You can try out various layouts before you commit to purchasing your own motorhome, and you can often get your hire fee refunded if you buy from the hire company.
- Spend a good couple of hours in the motorhome and try everything out. Make up the beds, swivel the cab chairs, set up the table, then sit back and imagine you’re on holiday. Problems that seem insignificant now might really get on your nerves after you’ve spent a long time in the motorhome – so be critical.
- Haggle. The dealer will expect you to try for a better deal, and the sticker price won’t include extras such as gas, hook-up leads or filling hoses. See if you can have them included in the deal.
- Buy locally if possible. Why buy from a dealer on the other side of the country if you have to trek back there when something goes wrong?
- Take your time, and don’t be swayed by special offers or ‘today only’ bargains. That’s just dealer-speak intended to pressure you into a sale.
- Test drive before you buy, on country roads as well as main roads. Make sure you’re confident and comfortable manoeuvring the vehicle.
- Even a brand-new motorhome may have been standing on the dealer forecourt for a while. So check for leaks and signs of mould or damp. If in doubt, take along a damp meter and double check the source of any damp smells or stained areas. Visiting motorhome shows before you buy can help you narrow down your choice. It means you can look closely at several similar vehicles and make better comparisons.
- Talk to other motorcaravanners, who are generally happy to help out first-time owners. It can be really valuable to get first-hand feedback on the pros and cons of certain features.
- Compare finance arrangements offered by different dealers.
- Think about where you’ll store your motorhome when you’re not using it. That luxury A-class may look the business, but will it fit on your driveway?
- Most dealers will accept cars, motorbikes and even boats on part exchange deals, so always ask. It might give you more options.
- Remember, you’re buying the motorhome for you – not your family and friends. Don’t be tempted to buy something bigger than you need, just for that one trip with extra people on board.
- Before you leave the forecourt, ask the dealer to demonstrate everything.
Checks for second-hand motorhomes
When buying a used motorhome, there are several crucial checks you should make before you even think about buying. Here are the main points to cover:
- Check the overall condition, including the chassis, engine, undercarriage and mileage.
- Check the exterior seals and trims for cracks, sun damage, knocks and scrapes.
- Check carpets, cupboards, handles and upholstery.
- Use a damp meter to check for damp throughout.
- Check the floors for de-lamination, which leaves an uneven floor and gives a bouncy feeling. It’s a sign of damp or significant leaks.
- Test all gas and electrical items.
- Check the seller actually owns the motorhome. Check the V5 registration document, service and insurance records, MOT certificate and any receipts for maintenance or repair work. If the seller can’t provide the V5, it might not be theirs to sell.
- View the motorhome in daylight and at the seller's address, and if you can, take a knowledgeable friend with you for a second opinion. Always meet at the seller's address, which should match the address on the V5 document.
- Make sure any finance on the original purchase has been paid off. If not, the motorhome could still be the property of a finance house, and not the seller.
- If you’re not great with mechanics, it’s often worth getting an independent inspection to make sure it’s mechanically sound.
- Check it hasn't been 'clocked'. In other words, make sure the mileage seems consistent with the age and condition of the motorhome.
- Check all over for rust, cracks and evidence of repairs, accident damage, scratches and dents.
- Turn the ignition to check the engine starts properly and doesn't smoke. Also check the clutch doesn't slip, and that there are no fluid leaks under the motorhome.
- Check the motorhome logbook to verify matching frame and engine numbers.
- A quick HPI check establishes a motorhome’s history, including any repairs or motoring offences. Find out more at www.hpicheck.com
- If you have any doubts about the motorhome, the price or the seller – then walk away.
What a test drive can tell youNever agree to buy a motorhome without first spending some time behind the wheel. Here’s how you can get the most from your test drive:
- If you’re trying a wide range of motorhomes, try to do it all in the same day – it’ll be easier to make comparisons.
- Once you’ve more or less chosen a motorhome, ask for an extended test drive to make sure. It’s part of the process, so don’t be shy.
- Wherever possible, make sure you drive in a range of environments – built-up areas, country lanes and motorways. And make sure you’re happy with visibility, reversing and tight manoeuvring.
- Make sure the engine is cold before you start. And keep an ear out for any unusual sounds, like knocking or hissing.
- The steering should be responsive and not vibrate. The brakes should stop the vehicle without pulling the steering to the left or right.
Always make sure you have insurance to cover a test drive.