Caravan World — 20 October 2012

DENYSE AND I WERE considering buying a new caravan. Ours is now 11 years old, but was built to our specifications by a reputable company. It has given very few problems, nothing in the warranty period, and mainly just things that wear out over the years due to the conditions of use. After years of preventive maintenance, there is a good case to keep it.

When we had it built, our main purpose was to visit national parks and some offroad destinations over corrugated dirt roads, with the emphasis on offroad and 12V operation. As we have grown older, our needs have changed, and we would now like an ensuite and a little more comfort. This means a lot more expense for a new, bigger van, which means more weight, and probably a bigger, more powerful tow vehicle.

Lately we have also heard of several problems that owners have had with new vans, from leaking windows to failing welds on frames, with a variety of manufacturers. We also know people who have lost their deposit when a builder went down, and we always hear of deliveries taking much longer than the quoted time.

While not the norm by any means, this sort of problem is very distressing when it occurs.

Another thing we have to consider is that warranties for appliances such as fridges, air-con and microwaves are not covered by the van manufacturer, and the new owner has to deal directly with the appliance warranty holder when problems occur.

We have our van well-checked each year and are usually forewarned of any small problems that may be appearing, so we may have them dealt with between trips. We consider that money spent on preventive maintenance is going to be good value compared with having to deal with the problems on the road, not to mention less stressful.

So what about a second hand, late model van? Without knowing the history of the van and the reason for sale, it can be tricky. Even with someone qualified looking over it, expensive problems can be missed. In fact, we found there were so many things to consider when buying used, that we reverted back to considering a new van.

When our caravan
was built it only took six weeks, and we were sent A4-size photos of every aspect of the build. Nowadays, it is difficult to find a builder willing to start from scratch to build the things we want, at a competitive price.

It all became a bit hard, so for the moment we are planning on keeping our van, continuing with our preventative maintenance and managing without an ensuite.
In reality, our van would be very difficult to part with, as it has been a part of so many wonderful memories over the last 11 years.

If anyone else has had a similar experience, we would love to hear about it.

WORDS AND PICS Tony and Denyse Allsop
Written exclusively for Caravan World online

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