Buying first v's secondhand.

Hi all,

Don't know if I'm in the right spot to ask this but here goes. After tenting for 20+ years we have finally decided to buy a caravan. We've been researching on and off the past few weeks the various types that would fit our budget.

We are going to look at some second-hand vans tomorrow which are more than we were going to spend, but fit mostly what we wanted, mainly toilet and shower, roomy, not too big though. The ones we are looking at are 3 different types, a Jayco Westport, Wanderer, Roma Elegance. All around the 10 year age mark but still highly priced.

Now we are wondering about putting ourselves in more debt because my husband said we will never gain the value back if/when we decide to sell on these older vans, as opposed to buying new. We've noticed that within that age bracket, the value is still quite high. But going on to say 15 years old, would it be worth it?

Any thoughts would be appreciated, and any other advice anyone wants to throw at us. I never realised how daunting hunting for a caravan would be.

Thanks. :)
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Reply By: mickf69 - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:33

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:33
hello selina v
i think you will ( i know you will) loose more money buying new and then selling in future. take our situation, bought second hand road star 19foot voyager 2000 1994 model in 2001, cost $21900 then traded 5 years later after going around oz twice for $22900 (up $1000 on deal )on a brand new 2006 jay co sterling 22 foot cost $49,000 now trading on a 2004 off-road royal flair.
royal flair is $29950, trade for jay-co is $42000. i lost $7000 dollars in 4 years i don't mind because the royal flair we traded on is worth more in the future than what i paid for it.
you very rarely make money on anything new(not including houses). i am only talking about caravans and cars.
AnswerID: 414261

Follow Up By: Selina V - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:43

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:43
Thanks for the reply Mick. It makes me feel better about buying second-hand. And a lot of the second hand vans have been so well looked after anyway.

So, heading off in the morning for a 5 hour drive to look at the online ones in person. Anyone has any other advice, based on personal experience, that they can give me? I've already read every magazine article online that I can find, but I know that doesn't beat practical experience and knowledge.

I guess I'm a real newbie that is overloaded with info atm and trying to break it down into something useable :)
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Follow Up By: mickf69 - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:54

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:54
just a follow up to my response,
i think second hand is the way to go especially if you find a van that suits your needs that has been under priced. most people use their vans maybe 8 weeks a year at most, that's not much wear and tear and you reap the savings off new price.
hope i am coming across alright as i have had a few drinks and trying to help and not hinder. if i have said anything that offends anyone ....SORRY.
i hope you find what you are looking for.
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Reply By: Farmboywa - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:47

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:47
G'day Selina V, If I were faced with your quandry I would ask myself, am I buying the van as a investment or as a means to improve my quality of life? I would have a preference to paying cash for an older well kept van and avoiding the soul destroying burden of interest on borrowed money which is going to consume any resale value you may be anticipating. Buy within your means for the long term and enjoy a van that you own and not looking after for a finance company. Happy Days.
AnswerID: 414267

Follow Up By: Selina V - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:04

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:04
Hi Farmboywa,

This is to improve quality of life... we've been tenting for 25+ years and I would like to do more travelling or just get away for a weekend. But Im over the fuss of packing the trailer for every conceivable thing needed for tenting with kids. And now there is only one left at home and I guess usually an added friend, its time to think of some comfort for a change. Hence looking for one with an ensuite, shower/toilet etc. Ive done the umbrella rain trek to have a shower or the 3am trek in the dark to toilets. Its also been offputting for me packing a trailer etc to go just for a weekend.

Also as I said, this will go on the mortgage, so still interest either way, but a bit less. It would definitely be long term... Thanks for the reply :)
FollowupID: 684480

Reply By: racinrob - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:52

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:52
I've been looking for a second hand off road van in about the $30 K range and have realized that all that gets you is a very tired, well travelled and smelly Kedron or Supreme Getaway from what we've seen.
The long haired mate and myself have decided to bite the bullet and raise the stakes to $40 Ks maybe even a bit more and look at new, vans like the Trakmaster Sturt ( $41K base price).

AnswerID: 414269

Follow Up By: Selina V - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:58

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 21:58
Wow Rob, I hope these aren't like that!! I'm hoping to get one for just under 30k as its going on the mortgage. And that was raised from $20 - 25k originally.
The reason I'm travelling is because these look (online from pics) to have been reasonably well looked after.
FollowupID: 684479

Follow Up By: racinrob - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:21

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:21
Pictures lie Selina !! We have looked at vans for sale on Trading Post etc that looked the goods and then travelled a couple of hours to see them in the flesh (!) only to find they have been around the paddock once or twice and it certainly showed when you got up close.
A good ending to my story though, we bought a three year old Royal Flair Discovery off-roader yesterday, privately, with plenty of extras and well within our budget. It wasn't my first choice, aTrakmaster, but I'm happy and think I got very good value for my hard earned $$$.

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Follow Up By: Selina V - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:26

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:26
Wow Rob, sounds good, only 3 years old. Can I ask what range you paid? If its not prying too much? And well done that your search is over...
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Follow Up By: racinrob - Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 12:20

Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 12:20
G'day Selina, we paid a bit over $30 but after seeing what was on offer in the lower price range we upped our sights and looked in the mid $30,000 price range. Remember that most sellers put in their optimum price and will settle for a lot less when you make a genuine offer.
BTW good luck and let us know how you go.

FollowupID: 684538

Follow Up By: Nutta - Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 21:29

Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 21:29
Glad you mentioned how fotos always make something look much better (even people!), I was going to say the same thing.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:02

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:02
Hi Selena

I thoroughly endorse buying second hand. As aforesaid, you don't lose so much if you decide to sell. Let's face it, most people don't get the right rig for them first up. Get something older but sound and sturdy with the idea it is just trying it out. Look at everyone else's rig and ask questions. If you don't love your choice and want to stay with it, after a year or two you will know exactly what you want and why. There are hundreds of choices out there - we all buy what we have for different reasons, be it budget constraints, time on the road, the roads we travel or what ever.

Suggest to your husband he speculates on the depreciation after five years of a van purchased new at say $50,000. if it is with a loan, consider the interest paid, and if drawing on savings, consider the interest lost. How much money has he lost? Now consider buying for $15,000. Even of you gave it away at the end, you won't be any worse off.

A major consideration must be the laden weight of the fully packed van against what your vehicle can safely and legally tow, and against the full weight, caravan, vehicle, load and yourselves your vehicle can legally carry.

Most of all, as has already been said, buy want you want to suit YOUR needs, without consideration of resale value. If you love it, someone else will too.



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Follow Up By: Selina V - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:14

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:14
Thanks Motherhen, he seems to have changed his tune LOL Or I misunderstood him :/

$15,000 doesnt get us anywhere near an ensuite type sadly. At least nothing that is not huge it seems. One we will be looking at is 22ft and we are worried about that already. Seems like our permanently booked tent site will be too small for a van that side so we may end up still tenting for one week of our holidays, just to retain our great spot.

The bad thing about the 3 I have picked is that they all have something different about them that we like. Even the beds are different, single, double island and a queen. Fridge size, no tv, and even one with no oven LOL

I guess you all have had to weigh up pro's and con's like this, especially buying second hand with a van that may have been changed from its original style. I'm hoping I will walk inside one tomorrow and just KNOW that its the one.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:31

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:31
The right bed is important - although singles v doubles can often be changed to suit your needs. You need a comfortable bed.

Unless you are full time on the road, you can manage without an oven. I rarely use mine, but it is handy to have.

If you're living in it - you will no doubt want a telly. We put one into our caravan and don't use it. We are having too much fun enjoying the big picture of Australia through the windscreen. Without going to the effort of satellite television, most places we bush or national park camp wouldn't have a signal anyway. We also put in a DVD player, but we only ever watched a couple of DVDs year before last one very cold and windy day.

Bathroom was not a priority when we looked for ours as we hadn't had one in tent or camper, but the small shower/toilet we have is certainly a bonus and i wouldn't like to be without now. However depending on whether you do all bush camping, caravan parks, or some if each, you can be comfortable with a portable toilet and a shower/toilet tent. Gee I bet you didn't have an en suite in your tent but you managed. Having your own opens up more places that you can camp.

22' is a BIG outfit. We have 18' internal and have heaps of room for two. If living full time in it we'd go to 20', but no bigger; too restrictive of where you can go and park. Again consider weight - not only of the caravan, but the bigger the van the more you can pack into it, and you'd be surprised how quickly the weight comes up.


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Reply By: mickf69 - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:16

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:16
just out of curiosity where are you situated ( which state)
AnswerID: 414275

Follow Up By: Selina V - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:20

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:20
Im in NSW... And I've noticed that caravans seem to be cheaper in every other state! LOL S.A has some good deals and of course Melb.. and I wont even get into W.A....
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Reply By: disco driver - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:57

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 22:57
Hi Selina,
As others have already said, it is imperative that your tow vehicle is legally able to tow your chosen caravan. It is surprising how inaccurate the weights painted on the van can be. The only way to be sure is to weigh the van yourself.

Most vans with shower and toilet are up around 2000-2500kg empty.
It is very surprising how your personal gear and food can add to that weight.

A caravan weighing around 2800kg all up will need something like a Landcruiser, Patrol or Landrover Discovery to tow it with any margin for safety.

I would keep looking for a good secondhand van that ticks most of your boxes rather than a new one. You will not have the largish depreciation to worry about.

FWIW I bought a one owner 16 ft caravan that ticked all my boxes.
The fact that it was 25 years old was of no consequence for me, it was in very good order, neat and tidy interior (but was very 80's in decor).
I've had it for 6 years now and have no regrets about my purchase.

Hope this helps.

AnswerID: 414280

Follow Up By: Selina V - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 23:00

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 23:00
I havent thought about that much, although hubby has. We have a 97 Prado V6 which runs on gas and petrol.
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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 13:08

Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 13:08
The probable limit with that vehicle is ATM of 2500kg which is pretty hard to get down to in a 22ft van.

I had a Roadstar 21.6in and it ended up at 2800kg so had to sell our Patrol and buy a Cruiser cost me $23,000 to upgrade

Check the compliance plate in the van and read the ATM figure and see if that is within your cars capacity, because if its not and its fully loaded its illegal.

Buy a WDH to go with it as well

FollowupID: 684548

Reply By: John and Lynne - Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 07:57

Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 07:57
If it is your first van think carefully about size and weight - real weight not tare weight! Also think about the problems involved in towing and parking a van over 20ft.
We settled as a starter for the setup Motherhen suggests -17.5 ft with a porta potti and shower tent. This works very well for us. We still have it and are having great difficulty thinking about moving up to an ensuite van. We love the storage and bench space we now have and would lose unless we bought 22ft or more. That size is too restrictive if you want to get off the beaten track a bit or bush camp.
So a smaller van will cost less and give you more flexibility as you try out the caravanning life.

Buying second hand can save you a lot of money and/or interest but there are the usual pitfalls. We suggest you take your time and pay a reputable caravan repairer or a trusted mechanic to carefully check out anything you like the look of. You can check the interior yourself and scrub it up if necessary but problems with suspension and chassis etc, to say nothing of dodgy electrical or other modifications could be very expensive.
Of course, in the excitement of finding a good bargain, do not forget to check that the person selling the van actually owns it! If it is stolen or actually owned by a finance company you will lose your money!
It is great fun buying a van. Enjoy the process and go carefully. You will eventually find a van you are happy with and can afford. Lynne and John
John & Lynne

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Reply By: Member - mazcan - Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 12:07

Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 12:07
hi selina v
read thread 76311 for some helpfull advice on choosing a s/hand van
good luck you have been given some very good advice here as well
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Reply By: Member - mazcan - Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 14:21

Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 14:21
hi selina
forgot to mention a helpfull site with a lot of down to earth basics imfo on caravans and all things appropiate to them
AnswerID: 414334

Reply By: kend88 - Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 17:20

Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 17:20
Bought our 2004 17.5 ft Coromal tandem Excel poptop with shower and toilet , tare1440kg, privately thru Trading post for $26000 in 2006. It has been really good and something similar would tick most of your boxes. They are out there. With your vehicle I don't think you would want to be looking for anything much bigger.
Good luck
AnswerID: 414353

Follow Up By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 18:20

Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 18:20
Hi Ken, what you have stated above is pretty much our situation except it's a Jayco 18 foot external, combo shower/throne, hot water system, Heron 2.2 Air Con ( Noisy & not very efficient) battery Pak & usual Micro wave, 3 way fridge etc. We are more than happy with it.

Hi Selina, We are old retired geezers & bought our first van only about 5 & 6 years ago second hand which was a 16 foot 98 Jayco Westport. We have many happy memories of it & it gave us no trouble. We upgraded to the present Van for no other reason than it has a Toot. We seldom use the shower.

Also our first Van had an Island double bed & we found it "squeezy" on either side & it was a bit short for me, & I'm an average 6 foot. The present Van has two singles, both of which are longer than the double we had. The two single configuration allows more usable space between the two singles opposed to the usable space on either side of the double. It works better for us, but you need to consider what will work best for you. Visit some Caravan Yards & you will quickly see many configurations which will help you in your decision making.

Good Luck & Cheers
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Reply By: petengail - Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 18:24

Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 18:24
personally, id search the internet. got ours out of the trading post and very happy - an older van 80's good condition, with a stand alone anex. no leaks etc. we paid $9,500, after a bit of negotiation, and have never had a problem with it. have seen many similar, and not as good vans in van yards for up to 15,000. so my advice would be, dont rush out and buy it this weekend, take a few weeks and have a real good look around. good luck. hope you get as good as we did.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 19:19

Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 19:19
Selina, be prepared to go interstate for the van you want. It may cost you a few thousand dollars in fuel, but it gives you more options so you don't have to settle for 'second best'.

We purchased ours our from the opposite side of the country, and drove across in four days to meet deadlines to get it.

When we got the F250 (the previous vehicle would not have been legal once we'd loaded the van), we were prepared to get it from any state, and would have bonused on stamp duty from most other states. As it was the one that was right for us was in WA, although my husband had to fly to get it which added to to the costs, and we paid the exorbitant WA stamp duty.


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Reply By: Selina V - Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 at 00:11

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 at 00:11
Wow thanks for all your replies... now I don't know whether I should answer now!! I'm afraid we pretty much went against most of that advice but quite a few of the answers came on after we'd already left.

Firstly I'd have to say that vans definitely dont look the same in real life as to their photos. Or smell great according to my husband who hated one the minute he 'smelled' inside.

We actually did get the 22' one but for what we thought (hopefully) were good reasons. Our daughter was balking at sleeping outside in an annex...she's scared of practically anything that crawls and also she would probably have a friend with her most of the time. So the extra room in it was a bonus. Extra seating also.

It did come with an annex also which the others didn't. The bed is a queen size with a proper mattress. The oven is there but was never used. Overall it was in the best condition inside and out of all the ones we'd looked at for the age. No smells, not the wear and tear the others had. Cushions and curtains had been replaced and the roof had been painted previously with a paint to reduce the heat? I didn't hear the details about that.

Comes with the HR bars for towing. The wheels are set at the back, not the centre. The owners have been towing it with a car. Hubby had checked our weight limit and seems to be ok, although Im a bit worried now after reading the posts. The tare weight is 1800.

Also had a couple of other extras which I guess aren't much but appealed to me, such as a washing machine, and clothes line. This also has the tv, dvd etc which isn't a huge deal but still something that would have been extra money for us to spend if we'd decided on another one. We could do without, but definitely not the kids.

The price ended up right for us, coming under 30k and hubby really liked it and so did our daughter. When we weighed up the price and compared with the others and what else had to be done to them, or bought etc, this one came out way in front. To be honest there isnt much at all to do with the van that would cost us any great deal. As I said, hubby really liked it the best from all we've looked at. I agreed but left it up to him to choose because of the size. I guess the bonus is that he's a semi-trailer driver so parking etc hopefully wont be an issue. At the worst I guess we could resell it on and downsize if it really becomes an issue.

I really did appreciate the advice, even though I read some too late. We havent got the van yet as we have to get brakes sorted etc for the 4wd and it was a 6 hour drive home so we've left it till next week to pick up.

Now any extra comments would still be appreciated. :) I guess this will also be an experience for us which we can pass onto someone else.

It seems really well looked after and a few things were only 12 mths old after being replaced by the owners, such as the awning. So I'm really hoping we got a good deal. And yes, shower and toilet enclosed. Basin is outside of the ensuite.
AnswerID: 414410

Follow Up By: Selina V - Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 at 00:15

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 at 00:15
Oh and the ATM was 2200... not sure if I've forgotten anything as we were up at 4am and arrived home just before midnight...
FollowupID: 684629

Follow Up By: Member - William B (The Shire) - Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 at 08:21

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 at 08:21
Hi Selina V,
I am glad that you have brought a van that you are pleased with.
I have read this thread with interest.
The only thing that I would add would be to make sure that you can hitch the van up and tow it yourselve just in case your husband is unable to drive for whatever reason. (injury, illness or fatigue)
If you havent towed before it can be a bit daunting, but after a short time your confidence will build.
Always planning the next trip. VKS-737 mobile 1619

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Follow Up By: Selina V - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 23:33

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 23:33
Thanks :) I will be. I plan to hopefully have a few 'girls only' weekends with my daughters also. So I'll have to learn how to drive. Plus we always share the drives and I do most if not all of the night driving anyway.
FollowupID: 684963

Reply By: kend88 - Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 at 18:45

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 at 18:45
Sounds great, should work out well. If you haven't yet done so, you should probably run it over a weighbridge to make sure it is within the ATM. Some of the things you have mentioned would probably not have been there when the tare was established and may restrict what you can load it up with. may need to load some of your belongings in/on the car rather than the van when travelling.

AnswerID: 414486

Follow Up By: Selina V - Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 at 22:26

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 at 22:26
We don't have it here yet, its 6 hours drive away so another trip this weekend to get it. We will take it over the weighbridge up there...I think hubby knows where most of them are as he travels there occasionally and has to get the truck/trailers weighed.

We are going to try and be super sparing with what goes into the van...don't want to fill it with clutter :)
FollowupID: 684722

Reply By: John and Lynne - Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 at 06:49

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 at 06:49
We are sure you will enjoy your beaut van. We wish you many kilometres of happy travelling. Lynne and John
John & Lynne

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Follow Up By: Selina V - Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 23:38

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010 at 23:38
Thanks :)

I really appreciated all the advice and answers on here. It seems like a great site and everyone has been really helpful. I've been reading other threads and there is a lot of great information. I'll be staying on the site as I think we will be needing all the help we can get and also to find out about parks and etc.

I'll follow up on here as to the trip home with our big girl LOL
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