Second-hand or new?

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Buying a new caravan, motorhome or whatever gives you a measure of reassurance that everything is going to work pretty much as it should do, although there are inevitably a few teething problems with many vehicles. Happily, these teething problems will be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty and should be speedily and freely rectified. Buying a second-hand rig does not offer the same reassurances, although that lack of certainty is generally reflected in the lower price tag.

New rigs are, of course, great! You are setting out on an exciting new phase of your life and the prospect of having your own brand new ‘home’ to do it in is very appealing. You will also have the opportunity to put your personal stamp on the rig by requesting that extra large fridge you want, or that huge water tank or those higher quality finishings. All of that, of course is all well and good. Just be sure that you can afford the new rig you have set your heart on and that doing so will not impact significantly on what you will be able to do on your trip. In simple terms, there is no point having a fantastic new motorhome if you can no longer afford the fuel to travel anywhere in it.

Second-hand caravans, motorhomes or whatever are like all second-hand things … you can be lucky and you can be unlucky. Second-hand caravans have the advantage of not having an engine so you know nothing’s going to go wrong with it mechanically. They also don’t have odometers so you have no record of how many kilometres they’ve travelled. Talk to the seller or dealer. Find out whether it has been off-road much and how well it has been looked after. You are really relying on your own inspection and assessment of the vehicle’s condition to piece together its history. Sometimes dealers provide limited guarantees on second-hand rigs. Check the details to find out exactly what is covered and how long it is covered.

One couple we met had purchased a second-hand Millard a decade ago and has been places in it you wouldn’t believe … the Tanami Track, Oodnadatta Track, Strzelecki Track and it’s still going strong. They bought it on the basis that it was cheap and so it wouldn’t matter too much if it shook to pieces in some rough country. Well, it hasn’t and they’ve got themselves a bargain that they have taken worry-free to some fantastic places.

Conversely, up in the Kimberley we met a fella up near the fabulous Mitchell Falls who wouldn’t travel the last 30 kilometres or so of the track because he didn’t want to risk damaging his nearly new LandCruiser on the admittedly very rough road.

The reverse argument is that up in Cape York there were some brand new Bushtracker off-road caravans negotiating some potentially awkward creek crossings, while a little further back down the road there were the shells of some older vans that hadn’t quite gone the distance.


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