Skip to content
CARAVAN ACCESSORIES Phone: 0419 595 524 Email:
CARAVAN ACCESSORIES Phone: 0419 595 524 Email:
7 Steps to Buying a Bargain Pre-Owned Caravan or Campervan

7 Steps to Buying a Bargain Pre-Owned Caravan or Campervan

Buying a caravan is a major investment, second only to your home and equivalent to your car. Ensuring a successful buying process can determine whether you become a satisfied and proud caravan owner, or end up regretting your purchase. Make the most of your investment with our expert tips. Here are 7 steps to buying a bargain pre-owned caravan or campervan.

Here are 7 Steps to buying a Pre-Owned Caravan or Campervan

1. Don’t be in a hurry: Take your time to understand the market and become an expert in the type of caravan or campervan you want to buy. As the famous Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes said, "There is no greater mistake than being too hasty in making a deal."

2. Understand the marketplace: The best way to familiarize yourself with the market is to browse through websites that advertise caravans for sale. Some popular ones in Australia are  and, as well as smaller websites that can be found by searching "caravans for sale" on Google. A good tip when searching these sites is to filter the listings by category, make, location, and price to create a shortlist of only the vans that interest you, arranged from highest to lowest price. By doing this daily for 21 days, you will gain a better understanding of the fair market value and be better equipped to negotiate a fair price.

3. Check the history: Before making any purchase, it's essential to check the caravan's history. This can be done by checking the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or chassis number. This will give you access to information such as whether the caravan has been in any accidents, is stolen, or has any outstanding finance. This can be done by doing a search, for a cost of $2, on the Federal Government's website

4. Call the owner – Create a brief list of questions to ask before reaching out to the owner. Don’t ask questions that are clearly answered in the owner's advertisement, as you will come across as an insincere buyer. These buyers are often called “tyre kickers”. It’s also important to come across friendly and not like an expert negotiator, otherwise the owner will put up defences in the negotiations. Expert on negotiations, Prof Stuart Diamond said "The best negotiators are often the ones who appear not to be negotiating at all."

Here are some questions to ask the owner over the phone:

  • Can you tell me the length of time you have owned the van?
  • What are some of the places you have travelled in the van?
  • Has the van ever been involved in any accidents?
  • Are there any visible marks or dents on the exterior of the van?
  • Are all interior components functional, including the stove, fridge, sink etc?
  • Are there any signs of rust on the chassis of the van?
  • Does the van tow well?
  • I have a limited budget; would you be willing to share the lowest price you would accept?

This final question is always important to ask before you go and inspect the caravan or campervan, as the answer will be the new figure you start negotiating from when you start the face to face negotiations.

5. Undertaking the inspection – Be sure to bring a notebook and pen with you during the inspection to take notes as you proceed. Record any wear and tear that you observe. This will be useful when you start negotiation.

Check the following:

  • Exterior marks and dents
  • Any sign of water leaks or discolouration
  • Chassis for rust or damage
  • Tyres for wear and tear
  • Windows operate correctly and no broken glass
  • "A" frame and towing equipment including brakes
  • Interior for water leaks
  • All appliance cupboard doors & table are operational
  • Hot Water Service, Pumps, Fresh & Waste Water Tanks, Taps
  • All electrical lights and appliances are operational
  • The air-conditioning and heater
  • Ask for the maintenance records
  • The registration and insurance papers
  • The VIN number

You may even wish to tow the van around the block to see how it travels.

6. The Negotiation:

Here are a few pointers on negotiation:

  • It's essential to remain calm and friendly during negotiations, even if the owner becomes upset or agitated.
  • When making your initial offer, aim for a price that's between 15% and 20% lower than what the owner stated as their minimum price over the phone. Expect that this offer will be rejected.
  • Politely point out each of the defects that you have observed and explain that repairing them will cost you money. Provide a rough estimate of the expected repair costs and then wait for the owner's response.
  • The first person to break the silence in a negotiation usually loses the upper hand. As such, try to negotiate gradually upward and avoid being the first to meet halfway.
  • Show the owner that you are prepared to pay your offered amount for the van on the spot. Avoid offering to pay a deposit and come back later with the balance, as the seller may experience seller's remorse.

 Being ready to walk away is the golden rule of negotiation. Nevertheless, before you decide to leave, consider giving the owner your phone number and asking them to contact you in case they change their mind. It's possible that after a few weeks, if the van remains unsold, the owner may regret not accepting your offer and reach out to you.

7. Upgrades - After acquiring your van, it's time to contemplate some improvements. The following are some elements you might want to upgrade or substitute to enhance the functionality of your caravan or campervan. First stop is to visit Outback Vagabond's website for the best accessory deals.

  • A new gas 2 burner gas cooktop - some older style vans do not have compliant cooktops with automatic shut off when the cover lid is closed. Dometic make a beautiful 2 burner cooktop that will enhance your cooking experience and provide all the safety you need. Dometic also have a 3 burner gas cooktop
  • A new Glacio12v/240V Fridge - some older caravans have noisy fridges that have suffered from all the bumps in the road. 
  • Added Security with a new Nemesis Wheel Wheel Clamp. Theft is on the rise, play it safe and keep your Caravan locked and secure at all times.
  • A Caravan Essential Starter Kit with fresh, grey and black water hoses, extension lead 15A, cable carriers, Fiamma wheel levelers, brass connectors will get you connected to all the services.
  • New Caravan Privacy Screen - to add extra privacy and shade, erect these very affordable screens to the side of your van.
  • Bluetooth tyre pressure sensors to keep check on your tyre pressure via your phone while traveling. One sure way of getting out of control when towing a Caravan or Campervan is to have low or irregular tyre pressure. Play it safe and keep an eye on your tyre pressure.

In summary, choosing a used Caravan or Campervan can be a cost-effective way to enter the market and upgrade your van after purchase. By conducting thorough research and utilising effective negotiation skills, you could potentially secure a great deal.

Interestingly, the venture has even proven to be profitable enough for dealers to purchase and renovate caravans, then sell them for a higher price.

Wishing you happy travels in your Caravan or Campervan.

Previous article Caravan Theft in Australia is Soaring
Next article 4 Ways to Stop Your Caravan Trailer Swaying

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields