To import or not to import!?

Submitted: Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 20:15
ThreadID: 105435 Views:3458 Replies:5 FollowUps:11
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I would absolutely love if anyone could share any BAD experiences they have had with importing a new caravan into Australia? I've heard so many mixed reviews and would greatly appreciate some real experiences to know whether I should look into it further, or buy a good old Aussie caravan!? Thank you in advance!
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Reply By: Mick O - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 20:55

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 20:55
Couple of threads here that may be of interest to you. By no means an exhaustive search though. I'm pretty sure there were some recent posts on the topic.

Importing a caravan

Cheers Mick
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903

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AnswerID: 522820

Reply By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 08:41

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 08:41
There have been discussions on the caravanners forum about this. I think there is a company specialising in the conversions of US vans and it still was very cost effective. They claim to have warranties covered too but you might struggle a bit when you come to sell or certainly trade. You might be better importing one from the UK. Either that or just carry on paying inflated Australian prices like the rest of us.
AnswerID: 522843

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:09

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:09
I would want to see their warranty claim before believing that also Steve.

I will buy direct from OS but for big ticket items I don't think that I would be willing to take on the warranty myself. Look at the worst case scenario that it couldn't be used. The loss of $1000 for a camera is not taken too kindly but it wont kill me. But a car, van or boat being a big loss is another thing. And what would be the cost to return it to the makers to get some things fixed. Even if they will accept it back for repairs.

Second hand stuff - sight unseen - never.

FollowupID: 804011

Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:23

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:23
With this particular one, all warranties and conversions were done in Qld. The van certainly wasn't an offroader but looked well equipped. I'm sure it would've been fine for 90% of vanning (on the blacktop) but we needed something a bit more rugged. Had it bookmarked for ages but deleted it. Can't even remember the company name but door and wiring/sockets all taken care of. Looked very good value. Might have a look if I can find it later.
FollowupID: 804012

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:27

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:27
That may be fine as you are effectively not really doing the importing. To do it all and cover the legal sides yourself without any company backing you is another matter.

Not for me mate.

FollowupID: 804014

Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:30

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:30

here's one - not the one I was looking at but Google "imported caravans" and you get uk/us options. Some of those US ones are monsters. Some 5th wheelers.
FollowupID: 804016

Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:35

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:35
well that's obviously the way to go Phil. Don't think I'd fancy dealing with some of the people you get (in Sydney import duty anyway) for something like this. Bad enough the relatively simple stuff I import for my business.There was a bloke on the caravanners forum who imported one for himself and I'm sure he went into it as a commercial enterprise.
FollowupID: 804017

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 11:55

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 11:55
Hi Steve MI
The one you linked to has been jumped onto

They were falsely claiming that their units fully complied with Aus standards ,WHEN they were using a step down transformer to supply ALL 110V existing wiring & appliances

I suggest to ALL considering such, DO NOT just believe what you are told by importers or converters.

Check that All you are being told is correct with the relavent authorities!

Step down transformers, used in that situation, have NEVER been approved

Even though you may have a compliance paper saying it is.
That is not worth the paper it is written on

If anyone doubts this, take the unit along to AN ESO office & organise a check !IF YOUR GAME

It is very likely you will be issued with a non compliance list a mile long & WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO USE IT UNTIL TRUELY COMPLIANT

Or you could simply ring for advice & ask these questions :

[1] IS it Approved for a 240v>110V step down transformer to be fitted into an imported van to allow the use of existing wiring, fiitings & appliances??

[2] What is required to make the conversion

[3]I have a signed certificate saying MY van complies with the Standards with it converted as in [1]

You may even like to come back with the answers

FollowupID: 804080

Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 13:27

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 13:27
think you've got the wrong bloke Peter - I merely posted a link and actually said they were not the company I was looking at. I am not here to provide answers for any of these firms. Just thought I'd try and help the OP by suggesting a couple of links. I am sure there is the usual due diligence for any prospective buyer to look into.
FollowupID: 804088

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 13:37

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 13:37
HI Steve
I was simply pointing out the problem with the one you gave a link to Not accusing YOU of anything
Even though ,by coincidence, a persaon involved with that Co is also "Steve"

FollowupID: 804090

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 13:42

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 13:42
Hi Steve
Cannot edit but just to clear up my use of ":you'
That was used in an all embracing sense to all potential buyers of US imports[ nothing personal]

My apol0gies if you believed it referred directly to you
FollowupID: 804092

Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 13:53

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 13:53
there's a lot of us about - rapidly being replaced by Mitchells and Bens though

FollowupID: 804093

Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:10

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:10
Hi Sarah,

My brother imported a 32 foot motorhome from America and had a bad experience at the dock in Sydney. Any future imports will go through Brisbane for that reason.

They put a "Flat Pack" through the roof of the motorhome.
A flat pack is a container base which has no roof and sides.

They had the flat pack on a big forklift and as they swung it around they were too close to the motorhome and gouged a long hole along one side of the roof. It could have been a lot worse.

This was repaired under insurance but getting the buggers to honour their insurance took quite some doing and caused a lot of angst for the brother.

However, the experience otherwise was very positive as the freight forwarder in California is an expat Aussie and everything went well on that side and the trip out.

When it comes into Australia there is a fair amount of regulations which have to be observed such as quarantine regs, vehicle must be thoroughly cleaned to remove any grass seeds and other contaminants and when it arrives and you get it out of customes etc. you than have to pay GST on it.

That GST will be calculated taking all costs into account, including insurances, quarantine regulations requiring cleaning at the docks in Sydney or whatever port it comes in on and any other costs that you acrue before getting it out of the port.

The motorhome had to be converted to RH drive of course. We have now completed this and will be getting the engineering done early in the New Year.

Converting the door to the left side of the van may not be required but there is a reg in NSW anyway, which says that the only access door cannot be on the right side, though it may not relate to caravans. You will need to do some research on that, relevant to the state you live in.

This is another on cost which needs to be calculated when doing the viability sums.

The internal layout can be fairly compromised in that event. It depends on that internal layout of the van you select

We looked at importing a caravan and a fifth wheeler but in the end we decided that a locally produced article would be better, for us, and a lot less trouble.

Local vans are made for local conditions and many imports do not cope well with our conditions.

Cheers, Bruce

At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:27

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 09:27
From the ADRs

Every motor vehicle (motorhome) or trailer (‘Caravan') equipped with
fuel burning (cooking) facilities or living or sleeping accommodation
shall have only outward-opening or sliding doors. At least one such door
shall be located on the left-hand side or at the rear.

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

Lifetime Member
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FollowupID: 804013

Reply By: Ron N - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 11:08

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 11:08
Sarah - Forget it, we have a keen and capable caravan-building industry here - that builds caravans to Australian specifications, using Australian materials, manufactured to Australian standards.

Keep these things in mind ...

1. It's generally agreed the total end cost of an imported caravan, is around triple the purchase cost of the caravan, in the country of origin. Transit insurance is absolutely necessary, as theft and damage in handling is common.
You still have to pay GST on imports - as well as duties, customs charges, port security charges, brokers fees, bondstore fees, possible cleaning fees - and demurrage fees if any arguments start, and the van cannot be moved.

2. If purchasing a U.S.-built caravan, remember the following ...

a) Access door/s is/are on the wrong side. A LHS door must be installed prior to registration in Australia.

b) U.S.-built vans are built with Imperial measurements, using Imperial products. All fasteners are Imperial threads (UNC/UNF). All piping on these vans is American National Pipe Thread (NPT). NPT piping is not compatible with our Australian standard BSP threads. NPT plumbing piping is almost impossible to purchase here.

c) Wiring in U.S.-built vans does not comply in any shape or form with Australian wiring standards, due to serious voltage differences, and different wiring standards.

d) Fittings such as catches, window frames and locks, taps, handles, etc, are all U.S. sourced and usually unavailable locally when they break and need replacing.

e) The frame construction of U.S.-built vans nearly always uses American softwoods that perform poorly in our climate. Our rougher roads means American vans fall apart quicker, particularly if you want to travel on corrugated gravel roads.

f) Lighting on U.S.-built vans does not comply with Australian vehicle lighting standards (ADR's). Caravan lighting must be changed to meet registration requirements.

g) Gas installations have to be re-worked to meet Australian standards.

h) U.S.-built caravan overhang is often unacceptable for Australian ADR's. Many American caravans have too much overhang to be able to be registered here.

i) U.S.-built caravans generally have lower resale values than locally-built caravans.

3. The importation process is lengthy, costly, and intensive. You need to apply for an importation permit before you even purchase.

4. Insurance costs are higher on imported caravans, as insurers are aware that repair costs are usually higher - and in some cases, repairs are not economic due to imported parts costs.

I trust this gives you food for thought.

Regards, Ron.
AnswerID: 522883

Reply By: Tony A9 - Monday, Dec 23, 2013 at 00:29

Monday, Dec 23, 2013 at 00:29
I have imported my own from the USA direct plus arranged or did all the compliancing myself with local Australian tradesmen. Ours is 100% compliant.
There are many Australian dealers importing new USA caravans that are 100% compliant, no short cuts.
So why not do the same and save some big dollars.
The numbers will go:
$US17 -25 grand new
Freight $$US7 to $US10
GST 10% no duty
Compliancing allow 5-10 grand.
There is the possibility of saving 20 -40 grand and with those savings you self warrant, which I would rather do than be at the mercy of a local 12 month warranty.
First thing, limit your searching to 7 foot 6 inches wide
Look at the floor plans so you can put in a usable LH door then plan on two awnings one ea side.We find its a huge advantage.
Its easy, safe, a great product but will require some work your end and take 6 months.
AnswerID: 523415

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