Buying A Caravan. What am I looking for?

Submitted: Sunday, Aug 08, 2021 at 15:18
ThreadID: 142341 Views:4070 Replies:6 FollowUps:0
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Hi. New to the group and looking to be a new caravan/pop up camper owner. My knowledge is limited and I am after advice.
I am considering purchasing second hand. Something that one person can set up pretty quickly (not a camper trailer).
Storage is limited so needing something small. But able to sleep 3-4ppl. Length to towball no more than around 5.47m and height no more than 2m.
Doesn’t need to have a toilet or shower. Doesn’t need to be off-road.
In purchasing second hand what do I need to consider… what often needs replacing or checks on servicing etc? (Pretend I know nothing).
What makes do you recommend for what I’m needing?
I drive a Pajero… don’t know if that helps.
Looking forward to hearing your advice and suggestions.
Thanks in advance.
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Reply By: PeterInSa - Sunday, Aug 08, 2021 at 19:03

Sunday, Aug 08, 2021 at 19:03
Some good info here:

and elsewhere on their website.

Main thing that I would look for after you are happy with the layout is look for leaks, roof, around windows and bad rust on the chassis. I would probably replace the tyres and ditto the wheel bearings, checking the brakes at the same time.
AnswerID: 637428

Reply By: Kazza055 - Sunday, Aug 08, 2021 at 20:05

Sunday, Aug 08, 2021 at 20:05
We started out with a 16' poptop then a 21' shower, toilet van and finally to a smaller 19' full van with rear ensuite which realy suits us.

My suggestion would be an expander van with fold out beds each end. Not certain if you can get one in a poptop.
AnswerID: 637431

Reply By: Stephen H15 - Sunday, Aug 08, 2021 at 21:26

Sunday, Aug 08, 2021 at 21:26
Seems like the max. size of the actual van you are thinking of would be about 4-4.5 metres. Take away possible storage boot on one end and doesn't leave too much inside space. Certainly enough room for two but pushing it for 4 people, imo. Check second-hand Jayco Starcraft (I think that is the model) or, for a rarer version, Jayco Feather. Both pop-up vans about 12-14 feet long--excluding the last bit to towbar. Your pajero shpuld be able to tow either as they weigh in about 900-1000-kg. (empty. of course). Other companies may have similar set-ups. As suggested, with used vans, thorough check for rust, water damage and definitely get new tyres and brakes, at the very least.
AnswerID: 637433

Reply By: Erad - Monday, Aug 09, 2021 at 08:22

Monday, Aug 09, 2021 at 08:22
A height limit of 2 m effectively rules out most poptop caravans. If you see one which you really like, you can buy a set of wheels (smaller diameter, solid rubber tyres which you have to fit when you are garaging the van, but this is a nuisance).

If you go for the pop-up camper trailer, they are great. They tow well (low centre of gravity, lower wind resistance). They are light and roomy inside, but have a lot of exposed fabric, and if it is very hot or very cold, you don't have much insulation. Fly sheets over the bed extensions are really good - they reduce condensation inside the bed areas. An awning is desirable - it helps to moderate the hot sun and provides some shelter if it is raining. Setting and packing up a camper trailer takes longer, but you get into a routine - we used to be able to get going within about 15 minutes start to on-the-road.

Our old camper unit had a hard roof which was erected with a cable winch in the front of the van. The roof had a depression which collected water, and every time I lowered the roof, it used to pour water over me! It only took about 5 years before I learnt to hide under the fly sheet as I would it down...
We used to have plastic sheets covering the beds so that any condensation on the inside didn't wet the bedding when it was all folded down.

Any caravan/camper you buy which has canvas or fabric as part of the unit - check thoroughly for signs of mould. If these vans are stored away with damp fabric, mould will quickly develop and it is hard to eliminate. We used to leave our van outside at times for over a week until a sunny day came along , and then we opened everything up to dry it out before storing it in the shed.

Check the roof for signs of water leakage.
Examine the tyres for cracks or cuts.
Check the rear lights to see how bright they are - dust can enter the light fittings, reducing their effectiveness. It is not nice to have someone rear end you because they couldn't see your turn signals or brake lights.
Check the expiry on the gas bottle. When you finally buy a van, clean and repack the wheel bearings.

The Pajero will tow a van of this size easily.

My preference is for a van with an aluminium frame, but even then that is not the be-all, end-all. If you get a timber frame, look for signs of water entry (will rot the timber.
AnswerID: 637435

Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Tuesday, Aug 10, 2021 at 08:20

Tuesday, Aug 10, 2021 at 08:20
Hi Angela,

From what you have described, you are looking for a wind up camper of about 16’ to 17’, (a total length of around 5.5 m including drawbar) that will sleep up to 4 people. There isn’t much choice in that range. Goldstream RV based in Melbourne’s out east may have something like what you have described.


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AnswerID: 637456

Reply By: Dixie61 - Friday, Aug 13, 2021 at 12:41

Friday, Aug 13, 2021 at 12:41
About 10 years ago I asked the same question , I'd narrowed my search down to 2 vans ,a Sunland and Roadstar, Did some online enquires and most favoured the Sunland altho it was a few years older .
Long story short , went with the Road Star, which served its purpose well , unfortunatly water ingress had rotted out some timber and needed major repairs .
Moral of the story get professional advice .
AnswerID: 637502

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