Ex-display Caravan Buyer's Guide

Ex-display Caravan Buyer's Guide

With the right information and guidance, buying a caravan should not be difficult. We don't want to make it difficult for you. This is why we have created a guide to help you keep your head clear and focus on the important things. Swift, Coachman, Bailey and Elddis are the top manufacturers worldwide.

Do Not Buy the First Caravan that you See

You are likely to fall in love with the interior and upholstery of your first caravan if you're just starting out caravanning. Keep your eyes open. There are many options available. Factors like the layout of the caravan and the overall weight of the caravan are more important than interior styling touches like the mocha edging on the scatter cushions. Learn terms such as MTPLM, MRO and payload.

Should you a Buy New or Used Caravan?

It all depends on your circumstances and needs. A lot of people buy second-hand because they are able to save money. New builds are more durable and offer greater security. Ex-display and second-hand caravans will be less expensive.

A used caravan's value depreciates slower than a newer one. A new caravan can lose as much as £80,000 after it leaves the forecourt. If you want to have fun with your asset but not lose its value quickly, then consider buying used. To be able to cover any minor emergencies or the fitting of any accessories that you may need, you should always keep a little bit of your budget.

You might also need to consider additional costs:

  • Corner Steady Winder/ Leg Winder
  • Water Pump
  • Step
  • Towing Mirrors
  • Electric Mains Lead
  • Solar Panels


It is easy to decide how many berths are needed. Just think of how many people you usually take on tours. You can sleep both adults and children under an awning so you don't need a bigger caravan. To ensure that each berth meets your needs, we recommend using a tape measure. Some berths won't be long enough to accommodate adults.

The size of your family or the number of your companions will determine how many beds or berths you need in your caravan. While some might prefer a 2-berth unit, others may choose a more spacious and luxurious design. There are more options than ever with the 4 and 6 berth caravans. All layouts over a 2-berth are described by the sleeping and lounge arrangements, not their 2 berth counterparts.

You can use seat-beds as a place to relax and sleep during the day, or bunk-beds to provide a practical solution that young children will love. When deciding the size and berth for their caravan, large parties should consider storage space.

It is worth noting that many families split the cost of a static caravan between two or more couples so that the entire family can enjoy it all year. This is another reason they are an economical holiday option.

Do not be afraid to check the comfort and length of any bed. Many caravans have both fixed and foldable beds. The advantage of fixed beds is that you don't need to make them every night. Despite their large storage space, they are a problem.

Pop-top caravans are smaller and more affordable options.


It is important to weigh the caravan before you buy it, especially if your driving test was after January 1997. Although there is no weight requirement for drivers who passed their driving test prior to January 1997, the law requires that caravans, towing vehicles and loads not pose a danger to other road users.

  • The caravan's laden weight should not exceed that of the towing vehicle.
  • The driver should be more cautious the closer the caravan weight laden with cargo reaches the one-to-one ratio.
  • You can drive if you pass your driving test after January 1997, and you have an ordinary category A licence.
  • Towing a trailer up to 750kg MAM or a vehicle of up to 3500kg MAM, you can drive a vehicle to 3.5 tonnes.
  • You can tow a trailer weighing more than 750 kg MAM, provided it does not exceed the unladen weight the towing vehicle (together weighing up to 3,500kg)
  • Notice: To tow a trailer that weighs more than 750 kg, the trailer must be combined with the vehicle. This will require you to pass another test in order to get a B+E Category licence.

Towing a Caravan

Your car's Vehicle Identification Number (or VIN) will tell you how heavy it is. The caravan should not exceed eighty-five per cent of the vehicle's total weight.

If you pass your driving test after January 1, 1997, the combined weight of your car or caravan cannot exceed three and a quarter thousand kilos.

Caravan Service History

Also, make sure to check the full service history of your caravan. You will find information about any problems the caravan had previously with damp, electrics wheels, brakes, and other issues. Every European touring caravan sold after 1992 should have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The Caravan Registration Identification Scheme, (CRiS), requires the VIN.

Caravan Storage

When you aren't using your caravan, it is important to think about where you will store it. It is not a good idea to leave your caravan out in the elements during winter.

It will be safer to store it in a covered storage facility. This will make it more secure, and can reduce your insurance premiums. You could also consider purchasing breathable insurance if this is not feasible. Double-check the deeds of your property or check with the local council if you plan to keep the caravan in your driveway.

Caravan Dampness & Condensation

Caravans can be damp because they are usually covered up for the majority of the winter. Before you buy a caravan, make sure it is thoroughly checked for damp. This can be done by purchasing a dampmeter or having the caravan serviced. You should take measurements around doors, windows, and roof lights because these are the most susceptible to damp.


  • Awning - A covered area within your pitch, but outside your caravan. It's perfect for adding more space
  • Berth - A two-berth caravan sleeps 2, and a four-berth caravan 4 people, respectively.
  • Breakaway cable - Your safety net in case the caravan somehow separates
  • Drawbar - Compresses or extends when you brake or accelerate, located at the towbar hitch
  • GTW - Also known as the GCW (gross combination weigh), this is the combined weight of the trailer, tow car and load.
  • Hitch - The part of the caravan that attaches on to your car. A stabiliser is built into the caravan's hitch.
  • Kerb Weight - The weight of your car including all fluids, including a full tank fuel and a driver
  • Maximum authorised Mass (MAM) - The maximum weight of a vehicle, trailer or other transportable object.
  • Noseweight - This is the weight of your caravan at the point it connects to your car. It's usually measured using a nose weight gauge.
  • Bathrooms -  Your caravan's bathroom without the tub. You'll find here toilet and shower facilities
  • Actual loaded weight - (ALW), is the caravan's total weight and contents when it is being towable.
  • Heating by blowing air - is a heating system that circulates warm air through the entire house.
  • Breakaway cable - A safety mechanism steel cable that connects the handbrake of the caravan and the tow ball.
  • Cassette toilet - This type of toilet comes with an external container that stores waste. It is located outside the caravan.
  • Chemical toilet - This type of toilet stores waste in a sealed container that is treated with chemicals.
  • Corner steady - This is a stabilizing jack that's built into the corner of your caravan.
  • Ex-works Weight - This is the weight that your caravan should weigh when it's new, as per specifications.
  • Gross train Weight - The total weight of your caravan and car together.
  • Top Brands - Swift, Bailey, Elddis, Coachman, Coachman, and Lunar