If you’re after a new van or motorhome, don’t be afraid to take a tour of the factory where the model you are interested in is made. Most reputable manufacturers are proud of their set-up and their standards and, considering you are spending a small fortune with them, are only too happy to show you around. This is the best place to get the answers to all of those nitty-gritty questions you want to ask about how the vehicle is put together, why it is designed the way it is, and what changes you can make to the standard design.
Dealerships, and caravan and camping shows, are also great places to have a good look-see. If you are not quite at the stage where you have pinned down the exact rig or even type of rig you are after, then it’s a good opportunity to see a variety of models alongside each other. It’s also a chance to try a van on for size. Sit down at the table, have a lay on the bed. Can you imagine yourself living there for however long you plan to? Gut instinct is important but so is reputation, reliability and strength.
Whether you are looking at a factory or a dealer, you should always ask if you can take your new vehicle out for a test drive or even a test camp. If you are serious about buying they will generally let you do this and it gives you a far better insight into what the rig can do. In the case of motorhomes and campervans it tells you how the vehicle drives and, in the case of vans and camper trailers, how it tows.
Dealerships will often also sell second-hand vehicles, commonly ones that have been traded in. You can pick up some good bargains here but try to learn as much as possible about who traded it in and why.
Often the best time to buy at a dealership is at the beginning of the year (Jan or Feb) when they have to clear last year’s models to make room for the latest versions and also in May/June time when they often have ‘end of financial year’ sales on.
Sometimes you can successfully buy a van privately. You commonly see them parked outside on someone’s driveway with a big “For Sale” sign, or they might be advertised in the local paper, the ‘Trading Post’ or even on a noticeboard at a supermarket or van park.
There are also a number of websites where vans for sale are advertised. If you’re planning to buy a rig from an internet site, commonsense rules apply. Make sure you actually speak to the seller before you buy, inspect the vehicle in person, and don’t part with any money before you’ve seen the item and spoken to the vendor. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Inspect properly, ask the right questions and then use your judgement.