Buying a motorhome, whether it’s new or used, is often a big commitment, and an equally big investment.

Buying a second-hand motorhome may well mean that there are savings to be made on the price tag, however, it’s still a sizable financial commitment to make and the purchasing process should not be undertaken without some serious consideration.

In this article, we’ll cover our top tips for buying a used motorhome, as well as where you can typically find them for sale.

Things to consider before looking to purchase a second-hand motorhome

Finding the right make, model and specification of vehicle to suit you may require a little more research and shopping around when buying a used motorhome. It’s wise to have a clear idea of exactly what sort of vehicle you’re after before hitting the second-hand sales market.

Here are some of our top tips for what to consider before you begin your purchasing journey for a used motorhome:

  • Type of motorhome – Are you looking for a Class A or Class C vehicle? A two or a four berth? Something under six metres?
  • Storage and insurance costs – Knowing what type and size of vehicle you’re looking for will help you work out what your motorhome insurance premiums will be. Will you have space to store the vehicle at your property or will you need to pay for private storage? 
  • Internal specifications and equipment – Does the internal outfit of the motorhome meet your needs? What type of heating will you want, is air con a must? What about hot water, cooking facilities, fridge freezers and storage space, not to mention your preferred layout for a motorhome?
  • Try before you buy – If there’s a make or model that you like the sound of, have you tried hiring one for a trip, so that you can really get the feel for it before committing to a purchase.
  • Budget – What’s your price range, do you have any room in your budget for repairs, upgrades or modifications you may want to make to the vehicle once you’ve bought it? Remember, there’s always the option of trying to haggle the price if you think a vehicle has potential.

If you’re new to motorhome ownership, make sure to read our article on the pros and cons of owning a motorhome, to help you weigh up whether the roaming lifestyle is going to suit you. We’ve also rounded up some of the must-have motorhome gadgets to give you some inspiration for the added extras that can make your motorhome adventures a little more comfortable.

What to look out for when buying a used motorhome

Overall condition

Not only the condition of how the vehicle has been maintained (inside and out), but also the quality of the build too. Check the sides of the motorhome for ripples and dents but also have a press on the panels to get an idea of the thickness and quality of the bodywork.

Wear and tear

Some signs of it being a well-loved vehicle are to be expected when buying second-hand, but you want to make sure that the vehicle, as well as all its fixtures and fittings, are fit for purpose and don’t show signs of ‘bodge jobs’ to keep them going. Check the seals of windows and vents as these are prone to damage and degradation.

Damage

Dents and ripples are just some of the signs of damage to the vehicle, be cautious of signs that damage has been attempted to be concealed too (stickers and questionable paint jobs can be a sign of something more serious being covered up).

Watch out for soft or spongy patches in the floor as this could be a sign of water damage or delamination of the flooring (either of which can be very costly to repair).

Damp

If a motorhome has been out of use for a while, then it may begin to smell a little stale. However, a noticeable damp and musty smell is certainly a cause for concern. You can pay for damp inspection services to be carried out on a prospective purchase. 

Equally, taking a moisture metre with you is a good idea, to help you check for signs of water egress and leaks. Pay particular attention to the roof, floor and shell of the vehicle, check for failing or damaged seals around windows and vents as well as internal leaks from any of the taps, pipes and water tanks. 

Wiring, electricals and internal equipment

Any sale of a used motorhome should be on condition that all the wiring and electricals are in working order. Check the sockets and equipment in the habitation area (fridges and cooking appliances) as well as anything that has electrical assistance (awnings, lowering beds, retractable steps etc.).

Beds

Make sure to not only test out the beds to see if they are comfortable and suitable for you, but also make sure that they can be made up and put away easily (even if there are extra beds that you don’t intend to use).

Road test

Make sure you give the motorhome a proper test on the open road to really get a feel for it and how it handles. If you feel comfortable enough, testing it on bumpier and less easy to drive roads will give you a much better idea of what the driving experience will be like, compared to just testing out on a driveway or forecourt.

Warranty

If you are using a dealership, have a thorough look at their warranty and see how it compares to competitors if you can.

Where to buy used motorhomes from

Dealerships 

Most dealerships will carry a range of pre-owned motorhomes, if not deal exclusively in used vehicles. They can be a good way to get a feel for what’s on the market and browse different makes and models if you’re still narrowing down what’s right for you. 

Finding a reputable dealer can be a tricky part of the process but signing up to motorhome owners’ clubs will help you find trusted and recommended dealers.

Buying from a reputable motorhome dealership can also come with the benefit of extended warranties and reliable service history. However, be mindful of travelling long distances to find the best deal at a dealership. If you want to rely on their warranty and servicing for the future, you’re going to need to be comfortable with making that journey each time you need their services. 

Used motorhome shows

Once again, motorhome shows can either be a mix of new and used motorhomes, or entirely dedicated to second-hand vehicles. They’re a meeting point for dealerships from across the country to showcase the used motorhomes that they have for sale, and there’s always the potential for a great deal to be had.

Private sellers

Great deals can also be found through private sellers but finding a trustworthy seller can be even more tricky than finding a reputable dealership. You’ll need to be extra vigilant about the condition, modifications, service history, logbook, and mileage of the vehicle. 

Due diligence should be exercised around the HPI checks on the vehicle to establish that the seller is the legal owner (and has the right to sell the vehicle), that it isn’t a stolen vehicle, or an insurance write off.

Unfortunately, there are some scammers out there so always check that the registration details of the vehicle match up to where you’re viewing it and don’t part with any money until the vehicle is in your possession.

Online auction sites

Online auctions can be the home of a bargain but if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Even purchasing from an honest seller can leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth if you haven’t carried out the detailed checks that you should have. It goes without saying that purchasing a motorhome online without fully inspecting the vehicle is a pretty unwise move.

Having said that, being able to put in the details of exactly what you’re after, and perhaps throw the net a little wider than your immediate area, may help you to hunt down the used motorhome you’ve been dreaming of.

Classified ads and online classifieds 

A lot of the major camping, caravanning and motorhome clubs will likely have their own publications or online classifieds that allow both private sellers and dealerships to showcase the used motorhomes that they have for sale. 

The same caution should be exercised when dealing with the sellers you have found this way, as with any other, but specialist motorhome classifieds may allow you access to a market of experienced enthusiasts that are selling on their pride and joy.

Related article

The Pros and Cons of Owning a Motorhome

Is motorhome ownership right for me?

Read more