Category: Blog

Buying your first motorhome or replacing your existing one

In this article, our aim is to help you decide which type of motorhome will be perfect for you, and also give guidance on how to avoid some of the latest scams that prevail in this industry.

In this article, our aim is to help you decide which type of motorhome will be perfect for you, and also give guidance on how to avoid some of the latest scams that prevail in this industry. 

Buying your first motorhome or replacing your existing one is a big decision in terms of cost and choosing the right one for your needs. 

The first steps may seem obvious, but we will cover them anyway. How many seatbelts do you require? And how many berths? 

The number of seatbelts determines how many people you can safely carry in the vehicle whilst it’s being driven. It’s pretty obvious, but the number of berths indicates how many people can comfortably sleep in the motorhome or campervan. 

Some four or even six-berth motorhomes only have two-belted travelling seats. 

So if there are usually going to be more than two of you travelling, you will need to make sure you have the required number of belted seats. 

For vehicles manufactured up to 1988, there is no requirement for rear passengers to have seat belts. 

If your motorhome was manufactured after 2006, you must identify which seats are designated travelling seats. Your motorhome must have seat belts for all designated passenger seats. Side-facing seats cannot be designated travel seats. 

Motorhome weight 

If you passed your UK driving test on or after the 1st of January 1997, and you haven’t taken an additional test to get the full entitlement, then you will only legally be allowed to drive a vehicle with a maximum weight (“MAM” or ‘Maximum Authorised Mass’) of 3,500kg. 

If you wish to purchase a motorhome over this weight and do not hold the required licence, you will need to take a C1 test before you can drive it. This would then enable you to drive vehicles up to 7,500kg MAM.

If you passed your driving test before the 1st of January 1997, then you should automatically have this C1 category entitlement. Check the back of your licence to make sure. 

Many motorhomes are rated at over 3,500kg and so to be certain, you should check the logbook and/or the chassis plate fitted by the conversion manufacturer. 

Decide on a budget and set a price that you are willing to go up to. 

Once the basics have been covered, the next step should be to spend as much time as necessary doing research on the web and visiting dealer’s forecourts looking at the various layouts and getting a feel for which one suits your needs. 

There are also shows across the country that many motorhome dealers will attend with a range of motorhomes. 

The Caravan camping and motorhome show held at the NEC is the largest of these shows, but is more specifically aimed at new motorhomes and campervans. 

Other shows that are regional and have a varied range of new and used motorhomes and campervans are Warners shows the link below will take you to a list of their shows taking place across the country – plus providers of slightly smaller shows. 

https://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/shows

http://www.appletree-exhibitions.co.uk/ 

There are several different categories of motorhome. 

Campervan or Van Conversion 

These are generally a bit smaller and are easier to manoeuvre around tight roads, although they still come with the necessary beds, cooking facilities and a bathroom. 

Low-Profile 

The low-profile coach-built is very similar to the over-cab. However, it does not have a bed over the front (above the driving area). 

The handling and fuel consumption is slightly better, and an additional bed in the front is still available in these but generally lowers above the front dinette area.

Over-cabs 

These are generally larger vehicles, offering extra living space – as their interior extends over the driver area. They can sleep anything from two to six people, and generally provide a double berth in the over-cab area. 

A Class or Integrated 

This is the most luxurious option, that can give a real feeling of space inside. However, the external look is not to everyone’s taste – as they have a large front windscreen and a fully integrated body with no separate cab. 

They are built from the chassis up, including the cab. This means that the width is constant from tip to tail, and assists with better insulation of the cab area. 

When inspecting your prospective new motorhome, you should check as much of the paperwork as possible – especially if it isn’t brand new. Ensure it comes with a new habitation certificate showing that it is free from damp and other faults. 

Make sure you are happy with the condition inside and out – and that the items you would expect to come with it are all present, such as tables, awning winders and that all of the appliances are present and complete. 

It is advisable to purchase from a reputable dealer, who will have carried out HPI checks and offer a warranty – as well as the necessary safety checks before you receive your new motorhome. Essentially buying from a dealer eliminates many risks that can be inherent in buying a new motorhome. 

When you buy from a private individual, you do not benefit from the dealer’s expertise, backup, and consumer protection laws should something go wrong. This is known as the consumer rights act 2015. 

You will also be provided with a comprehensive handover when you collect your motorhome to instruct you on how everything operates. 

Buying privately can offer some savings in terms of price, but there are a lot of scams around, and you should make sure you do thorough due diligence before handing over any money. 

In particular, you need to be aware that fraudsters are currently flooding platforms such as eBay, Gumtree and Autotrader with fake listings copied from genuine adverts. 

They are usually way below market price, and the story is generally that there is an urgency to sell due to health or family issues.

They will want the money transferred to a third party to hold until your inspection. This is usually an elaborate piece of work, including a mock-up email that looks like it came from one of the platforms offering to hold your money until you have inspected the vehicle and confirmed you are happy. 

If in doubt, check with the platform’s customer service or safety centre before handing over your hard-earned cash. 

The savings when buying privately can amount to several thousand pounds, but won’t justify the risk if you end up getting burnt in a scam. You also won’t get the backup, service maintenance checks and warranty – or the other dealer benefits that I mentioned earlier.

How to maintain the highest resale value for your motorhome or camper

Here we explain how you can best look after your motorhome/camper – and we even disclose some trade secrets that make us pay more for trade-ins!

Here we explain how you can best look after your motorhome/camper – and we even disclose some trade secrets that make us pay more for trade-ins! 

Maintenance of your motorhome is essential, not only to ensure your holiday isn’t spoilt by annoying faults – but also to help maintain the value of your motorhome or campervan should you come to sell it or trade it in later. 

Regular cleaning of the bodywork – especially the roof – will help to stop the build-up of debris and algae. Otherwise, over time this can get engrained into the bodywork and even damage it, making your pride and joy look dull and unloved. 

Like any vehicle, you should be performing regular checks of your tyres, windscreen, lights and fluids. Some of these are cosmetic – like keeping your windscreen clean and making sure your lights all work as they should do – but for example, if your oil level runs low, this can lead to severe damage to your engine and would definitely affect the resale value. 

Also, you should make sure your batteries are kept charged when your motorhome is being left unused for a time – as there are lots of different devices that can drain motorhome batteries over time, such as immobilisers and tracking devices. 

Keeping the batteries regularly charged can help extend your leisure and starter battery life by up to three times as much. 

Inside the vehicle, check for any signs of damp ingress from window seals, doors and skylights. The sooner these are found, the easier they can be rectified. 

Thoroughly flush water tanks twice a year, and for fresh water, use a sterilisation tablet. 

Aquatab tablets dissolve into your fresh water tank and guard against illnesses caused by contaminated stored water, such as Legionella, Cholera and Dysentery, among others. 

When it’s not in use, leave the fridge on the winter catch, as this will stop it from smelling. It’s harder to remove the smell once it’s appeared, than it is to stop it from happening in the first place.

At the start of Winter, or when you’ve finished using your motorhome for the season, ensure you correctly winterise it by: 

● Opening the outlets to your fresh and grey waste water tanks and water heater. 

● If your toilet system operates via a separate header tank, this will require draining also, along with the cassette-holding tank and the rest of the flushing system. 

● Once all your tanks are drained, open all the taps in your motorhome and turn the pump on for a few seconds to expel any water still in the system. 

● Leave the taps open 

● Leave the shower head and hose lying in the shower tray during the winter period when not in use. 

● Check there are no further drain valves located in your motorhome that may need opening. 

● Check the fridge and the freezer. Remove all foodstuffs as well as ice trays etc, and wipe away any moisture. Leaving the door(s) ajar will encourage air circulation and prevent the build-up of mould. 

Having your motorhome regularly serviced, having all MOTs carried out in plenty of time (fixing any failures or advisories) and having a habitation test by a professional service centre, is the best way to ensure your motorhome is kept in tip-top condition and holds its value. 

If you have these done just before putting your motorhome to bed for the winter, you can request that your motorhome is winterised at the same time. 

When we purchase a motorhome, the key points we are looking for are how clean the interior and exterior are. 

Damage to external panels, interior worktops and walls are harder to repair. 

We also consider whether the motorhome appears well looked after, and is the upholstery clean? 

Is all the paperwork available? How about handbooks, manuals and a recent habitation test?

Are there any bits missing, such as cooker glass lids, interior trim and tables amongst others? 

Have there been any modifications that a prospective purchaser would not necessarily find appealing – ie painting parts of the interior, cutting holes in cupboards or panels to add things adding tiles to splashbacks? 

We’ve given you all of the main points we look for when buying used motorhomes and campervans. So, by taking all of this on board and maintaining your vehicle to these guidelines means you can pressure us to give you the best price when you come to sell or trade-in your second home 😉

Taking your motorhome abroad for the first time 

In this article, we explain how you can make the most of your first overseas trip in your motorhome – also covering some of the essentials that you should have with you.

In this article, we explain how you can make the most of your first overseas trip in your motorhome – also covering some of the essentials that you should have with you. 

Many motorhome owners relish the thought of discovering Europe in their motorhome. When it goes well, it allows you to travel at your own pace, absorbing the different cultures and landscapes. 

So, what do we need to consider before we set off and enjoy all of this? Firstly, the essential paperwork. 

Passports 

In most European countries, you will need to have at least three months remaining on your passport at the date of departure. Since Brexit, it’s much more common for this to be checked when you go through Passport Control, than it was before. 

It is worth checking at this link to ensure your documentation is all in order and meets the requirements of the countries you plan to visit 

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Driving Licences 

A valid UK driving licence is required for touring Europe, and you will need to carry your photo card driving licence with you at all times whilst you’re driving. 

If you do not have this, you will require an International driving permit available from https://www.gov.uk/driving-abroad/international-driving-permit 

Insurance is required and must be at least 3rd party European cover. There are many specialist motorhome and leisure vehicle insurance companies that can assist with this. Although we don’t specifically recommend any in particular, here are two that we know about:

https://motorhome.safeguarduk.co.uk

https://www.caravanguard.co.uk

If you are lucky enough to be travelling to Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia (excluding Kosovo) or the Faroe Islands, you might need to increase your insurance cover to comply with local insurance laws. Also, check with your insurer to see whether you need a Green Card. 

Health and Travel Insurance 

You should ensure that you have adequate cover in case one of your party becomes ill or, god-forbid, you are involved in an accident. 

Your EHIC or GHIC card provides emergency medical treatment both at the roadside and in hospital. 

The older European Health Insurance cards (EHIC) continue to be valid in an EU country until their expiry date – but if you’ve replaced once recently, you’ll have noticed that they are now called the ‘UK Global Health Insurance Card’. 

They are available free of charge to UK citizens here (UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). 

Both EHICs and the new GHIC provide the same access to emergency and necessary healthcare coverage for travel to the EU. 

Should you require more than emergency medical treatment, then that is where your travel insurance would normally kick in. 

As well as providing a range of other benefits, travel insurance will likely cover the costs of medical expenses and getting you home if you’re injured or fall seriously ill abroad. 

Again, we are not specifically recommending them – but you may wish to take a look at the offering by The Caravan Club 

https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/insurance/overseas-holiday-insurance/types-of-cover/ UK Stickers

A UK sticker must be displayed on the rear of your motorhome – replacing the old GB stickers (which are no longer legal/acceptable). 

Instead of a UK sticker, you can often get away with just having numberplates which display the letters UK (and possibly the Union Jack flag) on the left-hand side. 

However, these are not strictly legal in some EU countries. If you want to stay on the safe side, just go with a ‘proper’ UK sticker. 

European Breakdown Cover 

European breakdown cover is essential to avoid any unwanted costly surprises – and being stranded in a non-English speaking country when you break down out of office hours and ‘in the middle of nowhere’. 

One such provider is https://mbgdirect.com/breakdown-recovery.html Documentation checklist 

1 Passport 

2 Photo card driving license 

3 Motorhome Insurance certificate 

4 Travel insurance 

5 V5 log book 

6 European accident statement 

Where will you be staying in Europe. 

Once you have all your documents in order, you can then plan where you will travel to and where you will be staying. 

European campsites are no different to UK sites, with the same options depending upon on what you have booked. 

As with some hotels in Europe, you may need to provide ID on arrival or allow your passport to be kept during your stay.

If you are planning to travel around and only staying one or two days, ‘Aires’ are very popular in France or ‘Stellplatz’ in Germany. 

These are booked on a first-come, first-served basis, with pre-booking unavailable, and are approved motorhome parking spaces. 

Information about Aires in Europe can be found at 

https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/holiday-ideas/the-best-aires-in-france/ https://www.vicarious-shop.com/collections/motorhome-aires-stopovers https://park4night.com/ 

They often have electric hook-up, waste disposal and chemical toilet points. 

Wild Camping 

Wild camping is another option however, it is essential to do your homework on the area you may be wild camping in first. 

Wild camping is tolerated in most European countries. However, there are different rules for each country – especially Portugal, where it is not straightforward to wild camp. 

When wild camping, the basic rules are to turn up late afternoon and leave by mid-morning. Do not light BBQ’s and have table and chairs out and try to stay away from residential areas and, most importantly, leave the area tidy. 

Park4night.com and searchforsites.co.uk are both great sources of information to help with this. 

Once you have decided where you want to stay and what type of travelling timeframe you have, it’s important to plan your route carefully – especially if it’s your first time abroad in your motorhome. 

Ensure your Sat nav has European maps. 

Be aware of toll roads. The Michelin website https://www.viamichelin.com/ is a good source of information on this, among other things. 

Other items to consider carrying are 

A First aid kit

Warning triangle (two in some countries such as Spain) 

A Hi-Vis jacket for each occupant of the vehicle 

Headlight/Beam deflectors 

All headlights require beam deflectors or adjusting if this is possible whilst in Europe. On some vehicles, you may have a switch to change your headlights for European driving. Check your owners manual for details on this. 

Taking your pet with you 

You must ensure that you have covered all the relevant steps before travelling to Europe with your pet. 

Your dog or cat will need to be microchipped and all vaccinations must be up to date. 

You will require an animal health certificate signed by a vet, and in some countries your pet will need to be tapeworm-treated. 

When you arrive in Europe, you will be required to go through a designated traveller’s point of entry. Visit https://www.gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad/travelling-to-an-eu-country-or-northern-irel and For more information.