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Top tips on how to buy a classic caravan

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March 20, 2017
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The advantages of a brand new caravan with all the mod-cons are obvious, but sometimes you’d rather swap convenience for nostalgia and relive the glory days of caravanning by becoming the proud owner of a classic caravan with a history of its own.

More than 1.7 million Brits regularly take to the road in their caravans for an outdoor adventure and the popularity of owning a vintage caravan is growing every year – but how do you ensure that you pick up a glorious gem and not a deadly dud?

Before you buy, check our tips for picking a vintage caravan that won’t break the bank.

1966 Sunliner caravan
A 1966 Sunliner caravan

How to avoid potential problems when buying a classic caravan:

1) Look out for excessive damp – small areas can be fixed, larger areas will cost you a huge amount of money and time. Look for mould, air bubbles under wallpaper, discolouration to wallboards, peeling wallpaper, warping, swelling and brittleness.

2) If there has been an excessive amount of silicone sealant used on the exterior of the van, alarm bells should ring – examine every area where sealant is visible for water damage. Such damage can be spotted in hairline cracks in the wall panelling which suggests any damage you can see on the inside panelling is probably worse in the wall cavity to the framework. Drum your fingers on panelling to see if there appears to be any separation of the layers of the ply or see if it feels ‘spongy’ when you press on it (apply the same ‘spongy’ press-test to the floor).

3) A ‘musty’ smell inside the van can indicate multiple leaks.

4) Check underneath the van and look for problems with the chassis: the most important element of any caravan. Broken welds can occur in the chassis and the step frame – look for cracks or any obvious damage to the shell.

5) Look down the sides of the van to make sure both are straight – if they bow, it could be because the van has been overloaded or because it is poorly constructed.

6) If the van has a fridge, ask the seller to level the van and have the fridge running before you inspect it and take a digital thermometer with a probe to test the temperature of the fridge and freezer. Also ask to test the cooker.

Airstream caravan
The iconic Airstream caravan

7) Take a ladder with you to check the condition of roof vents, hatches and the sealing of the main roof trims. If you are considering spending a large sum of money on a caravan, a seller should not mind you testing the roof by using a hose.

8) If the van you intend to buy has a gas system, ensure that it’s checked by an expert and consider swapping it for a new electric radiator or oil-filled radiator for safety. Equally, check that any lights fitted work and comply to safety requirements.

9) Before you make an offer, factor in variables such as whether tyres will need to be replaced, whether the foam and upholstery is in good condition, whether the winder mechanisms on windows work and if the glazing rubber around windows needs to be replaced – all will cost.

10) Ask the seller to allow you to take the caravan for a test drive which can reveal a host of problems such as non-working brakes, creaking, suspension problems and other issues.

Adrian Flux Insurance Services now offers agreed value classic caravan insurance – we understand how special it is to own a classic van and have built in flexible options to our vintage caravan insurance policies to give you peace of mind whether you’re on or off the road.

Adrian Flux now offers agreed value classic caravan insurance, alongside comprehensive coverage for other classic vehicles and cars.

Our agreed value policies offer you comprehensive cover for a range of vans and offer you the reassurance that your caravan will be restored to its former glory whether it’s damaged through accident, theft, fire, storm or vandalism.

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