Guide for First-Time Motorhome Buyers
If you’ve made the exciting decision to buy your first motorhome, you might be wondering where to start. There’s a whole new world of terminology to get to grips with and lots of different models and layouts to choose from so it can often seem a little daunting at first. We’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the process and find your perfect motorhome.
1. Decide on a budget
If you decide on a budget early on, this can help simplify the rest of the process when it comes to deciding which motorhome is best for you. Your budget will likely decide whether you’re going to buy new or used. Remember, many dealerships now offer attractive financing options so this might make more options available to you than you initially thought.
2. Do your research
If the world of motorhomes is completely new to you, it’s important to do your research before taking the plunge. Take a look online at the different layouts available and the facilities each comes with. You can also head to your local dealership or a motorhome show to get a feel for what different models are like.
3. Rent a motorhome
One of the best ways to work out what you need from your ideal motorhome is to rent a motorhome for a short holiday. This will give you a good idea of what features you like and dislike. For example, are there enough appliances for your needs in the kitchen and the bathroom? Do you want a fixed bed or does converting a lounge area in the evening work for you? How much storage space do you need for your holiday gear?
It will also give you an idea of what the motorhome lifestyle is like, helping you decide whether it’s for you or not. Use it as an opportunity to get to grips with driving a big vehicle, changing gas bottles and disposing of waste water and emptying toilets safely.
4. Make a list of your ideal specifications
Once you’ve got to grips with the different specifications on offer and maybe even been on a short trip, make a list of what your ideal motorhome will include.
Think about the sort of trips you want to take. Will they mostly be long weekends or will you be on the road for weeks at a time? Will you be staying at campsites with lots of facilities or will you be going a little further off the beaten track?
If you get a little carried away and end up with a long list of luxuries that only the very top motorhomes will be able to provide, try dividing the list into ‘essentials’ and ‘nice to haves’.
5. Choose the right layout for you
Now you know what your ideal motorhome specification looks like, you can start matching this up to layouts and even specific models. Are you looking for a fixed double, a drop-down bed or twin beds? Do you want a large washroom? How many travelling seats do you need?
Start making a list of those motorhomes that tick all of your boxes and that land within the range of your budget.
6. Go and take a look
Once you’ve got your shortlist together, go and take a look at some of the models at a dealership. They should be happy to talk you through each model and let you have a good look around. Don’t worry about asking too many questions, this is a big purchase so a dealer will understand how important it is to get it right.
Explain what you’re looking for and the reasoning behind this and an experienced dealer should be able to let you know if you’re on the right track or move you in the right direction if you’re not. They might be able to point you towards the perfect model that may not have popped up in your research.
Tips for buying a used motorhome
Lots of first-time motorhome buyers go for a used motorhome. This is a great option as you can save money and you might end up with some extras already fitted. There are some things to look out for though, especially if you’re considering buying from a private seller.
- If you’re buying a motorhome privately, you need to check that the motorhome hasn’t been stolen or written off, just as you would with a car. Do an HPI check and it’s also a good idea to view the vehicle at the seller’s home so you can check the details on the documents match up.
- Do a visual check of the exterior and interior to see if there are any obvious signs of damage. Are there any stickers in strange places that might be covering up damage?
- Make sure everything works. Check all of the appliances in the kitchen and in the washroom. Try out the bed and make sure it’s comfortable. Sit down on the sofas and make up any beds that are made from the seats. If it has an awning, try this out. Take a good look at the sealant around the windows and in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Take it for a test drive (with the correct insurance) before you make any decisions. Make sure that you can adjust the cab seat so that it’s comfortable for you. You’ll be spending a lot of time in it so it’s important that the driving position suits you. Make sure you go for a drive on a variety of roads so you can test how it feels at different speeds, on bumpier surfaces and on hills.
- If you’re not confident in your mechanical knowledge, the seller shouldn’t have a problem with you getting a professional to check things over.
- Ask the seller what work has been done on the motorhome and who carried out the work. They should have kept records of this just like you would with a car so ask to see the documents.
- Consider a damp test: Damp can be a real issue for both motorhomes and caravans. If you’re looking at a second hand motorhome, especially one that’s more than a couple of years old, a professional damp test might be a good idea. If the motorhome smells musty, that’s a sign that quite a lot of damage might already have been done.
Of course, if you’re buying a second hand motorhome from a dealership, they should take care of the points above for you, making the process much more simple. This could provide some extra peace of mind when buying a motorhome for the first time. You can always ask the dealer if the points above have been looked at and you should be able to have a good look around the motorhome to check that everything works as it should.