This checklist has been produced with the kind support of the Caravan Council of Australia.
Before You Begin
Helpful tools when conducting a used caravan inspection include a torch, a damp meter, a ladder and a tape measure. If you can, take along someone who knows about caravans.
- Is your tow vehicle capable of towing this caravan? Check the caravan’s Tare, ATM and towball weight against your tow vehicle’s specifications
- Is size, style and layout suitable for your needs?
- Can you afford it?
If the answer to any of these three questions is no, don’t buy. If the answer is yes to all, then make a detailed inspection as follows:
- Note caravan’s manufacturer and caravan’s age. What is the ownership history (if known)? Where has the caravan been kept and where has it been (if known)? Does the manufacturer still exist and are spare parts for this caravan still available?
- What documentation is provided with the caravan? Ask for weighbridge certificate, gas certificate, electrical certificate. Is there a service history? Are instruction manuals available?
- Compare VIN plate with documentation provided
- Build type: wood or aluminium frame? Aluminium or fibre glass?
- Overall condition: is condition consistent with age?
- Any signs of repairs, scratches, dents, hail damage, bowing, repainting?
- Any sealant around windows and ventilation hatches damaged?
- Check windows open and close and are in good condition
- Axle/suspension: check for stone damage, rust, cracks, deformation
- Under the caravan: check water tanks, wiring, piping and general underfloor condition. Does the caravan look as though it has been off road? Through sand, water? Has chassis been grounded?
- Tyres: do the tyres have good tread? How old are they? Are the correct tyres fitted (refer to compliance plate)? Is there a spare tyre?
- A-Frame: Is tow hitch in good condition? All wiring present and in good condition? Handbrake, chains, jockey wheel present and working?
- Roof: If possible and safe, conduct roof inspection checking for damage, leaks, tree/branch damage, solar panel and TV aerial damage
- Electrics: check battery condition, charger, lights and all appliances
- Gas: check condition of gas bottles, regulator and piping
- Smell test: is there any smell of dampness or use of chemicals to disguise other smells?
- Insect test: are there any signs of ants or other insects inside the caravan? (ants like damp wood, suggesting a leak)
- Walls, ceiling and benchtops: check carefully (especially around windows and ventilation hatches) for dampness, discolouration, bulges, scratches, indents, holes or evidence of repainting or repair
- Cupboards: check for daylight between cupboards and walls, loose or missing screws, doors not opening or closing, broken latches
- Beds: check for any damage to bed, storage area or mattress
- Kitchen: is hob/grill/oven/microwave/fridge clean and working?
- Ensuite: is ensuite in good condition? Is toilet/shower/hot water working? Any signs of leaking, mould or poor ventilation?
- Pop tops: check roof can be raised and lowered easily, struts are in good condition, canvas is not damaged or discoloured
- Door: does it open and close and lock? How many keys provided?
- Awning: check that awning opens and closes properly and check canvas condition
- Is smoke alarm and fire extinguisher fitted?
Be realistic about what to expect for the van’s age, but do not be afraid to ask the seller to correct any minor matters prior to sale. If the problem appears significant, look elsewhere.