Buying a motorhome or campervan, whether it be new or used may seem like an extremely daunting process, regardless of if you’ve bought another vehicle previously - as you may suspect, the motorhome market is an entirely different ballgame.
New or used, buying a motorhome or campervan is an extremely big commitment/investment. That being said, in this blog, we are going to be running down everything you need to know about the process of purchasing a vehicle as well as things to look out for.
Let’s get into it!
Choosing your style of motorhome
First things first, when it comes to looking at which motorhome or campervan you want to buy, the best thing to do is start with selecting your style. There are six main types of motorhomes and campervans available to choose from.
There are three types of coach-built motorhome worth considering, these include...
As the name suggests, over-cab motorhomes tend to be larger vehicles offering extra living space above the driver and passenger seats. Typically they also come equipped with a permanent washroom, toilet compartment, and at least one fixed bed and can sleep any number of people from 2-6.
Similar to the over-cab, the style of the low profile is pretty much the same, however instead of having an overhead bed usually it will be replaced by storage space and cupboards.
Lastly, we have the a-class style motorhomes. A-class motorhomes tend to be the top of the range and are built from the chassis upwards. Perfect for going on longer-distance touring holidays, A-class motorhomes also offer far more space and comfort than any other type of motorhome we have spoken about yet.
Onto campervan and motorhome conversions, again there are three main types you can choose from...
Thanks to their smaller size, fixed-roof motorhomes, and campervans can be easily stored in the garage when not in use. Whilst facilities tend to be minimal and space to move around is limited, these types of 4-wheelers are perfect for first-time buyers!
Campers and motorhomes with an elevating roof, come equipped with pretty much the same layout as the one above, however, they offer extra sleeping space and/or standing room thanks to the pop-top roof.
High tops are arguably the top of the range when it comes to converted motorhome styles, coming equipped with much more space, a permanently raised roof, and even a shower or toilet room.
Where should I buy a motorhome or campervan from?
There are several ways in which you can purchase a motorhome or campervan, each option coming with its positives and negatives.
For example, whilst buying a four-wheeler second-hand from a private seller may be the most affordable option, there is no guarantee that your motorhome or campervan has been checked over by professionals nor comes with a warranty.
On the other hand, if you opt to buy from a dealer, your camper will typically either come with a 3 or 6-month guarantee, as well as being professionally checked over - these extras are usually reflected in the price and will be more expensive!
What licence do I need to drive a motorhome?
Typically, if you intend to drive a standard-sized motorhome or campervan with a maximum weight of 3,500kg on UK roads - you should be able to do this on a standard Category B licence.
On the other hand, if you intend to drive a motorhome with an authorised mass (MAM) between 3,500kg-7,000kg, you will need a category C1 licence.
Buying a brand new motorhome/campervan
When it comes to purchasing a new holiday home on wheels, considering buying brand new doesn’t necessarily mean that the person wants to flash their cash about. There are a handful of reasons why people may opt to go down the buying new route including it being more affordable thanks to monthly payments, fully customisable, and much more…
It is worth mentioning that naturally this will vary per individual scenario – so it is always worth checking which customisable options you have available with each manufacturer.
Top tips when buying a new motorhome:
Regardless of whether you have bought motorhomes or campervans in the past when it comes to your first time buying brand new, it can be quite a daunting experience. Here are a few of our top tips to make your experience as smooth as possible:
First things first: do your research!
As exciting as a brand new motorhome seems, it is essential to not get overwhelmed and purchase the first thing you see. You should shop around and look at as many reviews, articles, or YouTube videos regarding the make and model as you can before making a concrete decision.
Find a reputable dealership in your area
When deciding to purchase a brand new motorhome or campervan, it is important to get it from somewhere with a solid reputation, especially in the event that your new van runs into any issues.
Whether you join motorhome and campervanning forums and Facebook pages or take a scroll through Google and Trustpilot reviews - there will always be someone out there to point you in the right direction!
Weigh up your financial options
When purchasing a brand new motorhome or campervan from a dealer, you will have three ways of financing to choose from. These are:
1. Paying outright
The first option when purchasing your new van is just purchasing outright either with the money you have saved up or perhaps you have opted for a personal loan and pay monthly that way instead.
2. PCP (Personal Contract Purchase)
Another way to pay for your new 4-wheeler is by signing up for PCP monthly payments. With PCP monthly payments, typically you will put a smaller deposit down initially, and then pay X amount each month.
Typically, you will be able to choose between a 2-5 year period of paying monthly. At the end of this contract, you will have the choice to either switch your van in for another brand new model or pay any of the outstanding balance off.
3. HP (Hire Purchase)
Lastly, you have the option to choose hire purchase. This option will allow you to put a higher deposit down and then on top of that pay the rest off in monthly installments. At the end of the three or four years, the motorhome or campervan in question will be entirely yours.
*It is worth mentioning that there is no ‘correct’ way of purchasing your new van, instead, it will depend on what can fit comfortably with both your lifestyle and budget.
4. Do not succumb to pressure
If you are planning to go to a dealer, you will need to bear in mind that the people who work there are going to sell you the newest motorhome or camper to get their commission. However, it is important to not feel any pressure into buying something before you have had time to seriously think about and weigh up your options - especially if you choose to opt for the financing route.
Pros and cons of buying a new campervan/motorhome
Now, the thought of buying a brand new motorhome or campervan is exciting within itself and thanks to the variety of finance options made readily available to us in the modern day - many more of us out there will have the opportunity to own our very own brand new home on wheels!
However, much like making any other decision in life, it is always important to weigh up the pros and cons and consider which option would suit you both financially and your lifestyle…
Finance Options are Available
One great thing about buying a brand new motorhome or campervan is the availability of finance options, helping you to spread the cost over a chosen duration of time - providing you are in the position to and wish to do so!
Additional Manufacturers Warranty
Brand-new campervans and motorhomes typically come with some sort of warranty, whether that be an exclusive dealer warranty or a generalised manufacturer one - this will either cover you for a certain about of years or amount of miles.
Clean history and no unknown crash damage
Another bonus to you buying a new four-wheeler is the fact that the only person who will have driven it is you. This saves you from any concerns about how your motorhome or campervan has been driven by previous owners, as well as undeclared crash damage.
Typically higher insurance costs
Whilst the cost of your motorhome insurance will depend on a variety of factors such as your age, riding experience, where you live, etc. As a general rule, new motorhomes and campervans tend to cost more to insure than second-hand vehicles.
New motorhomes/campervans depreciate very quickly
According to Don Amott, the biggest drop in the value of a motorhome or campervan will be on average 20% of the forecourt value. The value will continue to drop for five years until it starts to even out and become manageable.
Long wait times
Throughout 2023, many manufacturers in the UK have seen an extremely low supply of motorhomes and campervans due to cab shortages, with some customers waiting over 18 months to receive their new holiday homes.
Buying a used motorhome/campervan
The second-hand motorhome market has really boomed over the last few years, with a large variety of motorhomes and campers to suit almost every person's needs, wants, lifestyle, and budget.
So whether you buy from a used motorhome show, a private seller, or from a dealer directly, there are plenty of reasons why people opt to purchase a second-hand motorhome or camper.
Where should I buy a used motorhome or campervan from?
As we mentioned above, there are three ways in which you can go about purchasing a used motorhome. These three ways are:
- Through a dealership
- Private Seller
- Used Motorhome & Campervan Show
There is no right or wrong way in which you should purchase a used camper, and whichever route you go down is entirely up to you and your personal needs and preferences.
If the upfront cost of the vehicle is your main concern, then private sales tend to be the better option as they are typically far cheaper than when buying directly from a dealer. However, you won’t receive an additional warranty or the assurance that your vehicle has been checked over by a professional before purchase.
On the other hand, if you opt to buy from a dealer, your camper will most likely have been checked over by a professional, recently serviced, and come with a 3 or 6-month warranty. These extras are usually reflected in the price, which can make them more expensive - but again it is up to you!
Things to consider before purchasing a used motorhome?
When buying a used motorhome or camper, especially when going down the private seller route, it is important to ask questions such as:
- Are there any modifications? - it is well worth asking about modifications to the four-wheeler, especially on camper conversions. This information will need to be given to your insurers and failure to do so can lead to complications down the line and/or in the event of a claim.
- Any signs or records of crash damage? - We will discuss this in more depth below, however, any crash damage must be declared to you. Crash damage can cause some serious structural damage which could be extremely unsafe and unwise for you to waste your money on.
- Is there any outstanding finance remaining? - If the original owner still has outstanding finance on the camper they’re selling, it could mean that they are trying to sell it fraudulently. This is something to always be wary of!
- Have you been provided with all of the up-to-date and correct documentation? - Again, we will discuss this later on, but failure to provide all of the documentation can mean that the vehicle has been stolen!
Tips when buying a used campervan/motorhome
Before parting with any of your hard-earned cash, there are a few pieces of advice you should follow to get the best vehicle for your chosen pricepoint:
Take some time to consider what you actually need
It is well worth doing your research beforehand, making sure you know exactly what type of motorhome or campervan you are going to want to suit both your needs and lifestyle. Also, consider which types of campsites will you visit, if you intend to stay on ones with little facilities then maybe it is well worth weighing up getting a van with a solid washroom and toilet, as well as somewhere to cook.
Check any used motorhome/ campervan with a moisture meter
The Caravan and Motorhome Club advises not to buy a used 4-wheeler without testing it with a moisture meter first. This will help you detect whether or not there are any problems with the motorhome before you part with any of your hard-earned money.
Make sure you request and receive all required documents
It is essential to check you are given all of the correct and up-to-date registration and servicing/MOT documents. Failure to be able to provide any of this information should be an instant no-go for you, and it is advisory that you step away from the sale.
Take a friend with you!
Whether you’re buying a second-hand vehicle from a dealer or privately, it is always best to take an experienced friend with you who already owns a motorhome of their own. They will know what to look out for and where they need to check, whether that be for damp spots, making sure everything is operating correctly, or the electrics.
Pros and Cons of purchasing a used campervan/motorhome
Much like with any purchase, buying a used motorhome can come with its advantages and disadvantages. We have compiled a list of some of the things to consider before parting with your hard-earned cash…
Advantages of purchasing a used motorhome:
You’re saving money!
Probably one of the biggest reasons people opt for second-hand vehicles is due to them being far cheaper to buy. Even if you get one just a few years older, when comparing their upfront price to brand new, you will find that the second-hand models are significantly cheaper - allowing you to get a far better deal!
One advantage when buying a used motorhome is the lessened risk of depreciation. When purchasing a new motorhome or campervan, as soon as it leaves the dealership doors, it will start to lose its value over the next three years - meaning that getting an older model will be significantly cheaper than buying brand new.
Can cost less to insure
A second advantage of purchasing a used campervan is the fact they can be typically cheaper to insure due to their lower value as well as the fact that many insurers will give an “age of vehicle” discount when it comes to setting up your policy.
Varied options and shortened waiting times
The second-hand campervan/ motorhome market tends to have plenty more options and layouts for you to pick from in comparison to purchasing a brand new motorhome/ campervan.
Buying a second-hand motorhome will also mean you can purchase and collect your vehicle almost immediately as it will be ready to go at either your chosen dealership or one nearby!
Disadvantages for buying a used motorhome:
You will never know how it has been driven previously
You must ask for the complete history of your motorhome/campervan before purchasing it, as well as make sure if your selected four-wheeler has suffered any crash damage.
Regardless of whether you buy a second-hand motorhome/ campervan from a private seller or dealer, you do run the risk of never truly knowing the full insight into how your camper has been treated by its previous owners - however when searching for the ‘one’, always have your thinking cap on and be cautious!
If you can, it would be advisable to pay for a vehicle check online, these checks can help you see whether or not there us any crash damage, if it has been stolen, or if there is any finance outstanding.
You may have to compromise
When buying a brand new campervan conversion or motorhome, you will get to pick every last detail including the colour, spec, layout, and interior. However, with second-hand vehicles, you will be limited to what is currently on the used market.
Fewer finance options
Another downside of second-hand campers and motorhomes is the limited finance options available in comparison to when buying brand new. While you may be able to do this in a dealership, if you opt to purchase privately you will need to pay outright or find another way of financing it via a third-party company.
May require more frequent work and repairs done
Before purchasing your selected motorhome or campervan, it is essential that the vehicle truly fits the description the seller or dealer has given you. Failure to do so may result in you having to fork out further cash for added work needing to be carried out and repairs in the future.
Ready to travel?
So there you have it, I hope you enjoyed our full guide on purchasing a new or used motorhome/campervan!
Last but not least, if you are considering purchasing a motorhome, or perhaps you already own one - make sure to get a motorhome or campervan insurance quotation with Lexham either by filling out a quotation form online or by giving us a call on 01379 646 529.