ultimate motorhome buying checklist
With the UK still in lockdown and the future of international travel in limbo, a lot of people are looking at a good old-fashioned staycation for 2021 and maybe even beyond. Although travelling anywhere right now is a risk, as lockdown rules get lifted in the coming months, people are looking for ways to enjoy the great outdoors without having to get on a plane. For many, this means hopping in a motorhome and exploring a little close to home.
If you’re thinking of joining the 225,000 motorhome owners in the UK, we’ve got the ultimate checklist so you can make the most of your money to find a brand new way of travelling.
Do you need a special license to drive a motorhome in the UK?
Let’s start with the basics: can you drive a motorhome away immediately? Whether or not you need a specialist licence depends on your age and the motorhome’s maximum authorised mass (MAM).
If you passed your test after January 1st 1997, you can drive any motorhome that weighs up to 3,500kg with your standard category B and B1 licence. If you took your test before that date you will automatically have a category C1 licence which allows you to drive a motorhome of up to 7,500kg.
Most standard sized motorhomes are now built with a MAM of 3,500kg to incorporate those with normal driving licences.
Where is the best place to buy a used motorhome?
If you’re not keen on shelling out for a brand new motorhome, you can find some decent used models from various places. Buying from a dealer is probably the best place to find variety, and there are many approved dealers out there. The Camping and Caravanning Club has a Preferred Dealer scheme to help people find reputable dealerships.
You can also buy online on various auction sites or through private sellers. Of course, you need to be very careful when purchasing anything online. You can use the same process as you would when buying a used car - get a history check. The UK’s motorhome industry set up a service called MINDER, which collates data in the same way we do, thereby allowing potential buyers to check the status of their desired motorhome, including whether it has been written off, has any outstanding credit, or if it has been stolen or obtained through fraudulent means.
What should I know before buying a used RV?
Before you buy a motorhome or any type of RV, you will need to check a range of things to be sure you are parting with the right amount of money for the right kind of vehicle. In the same way as you would with any other vehicle purchase, you need to check the following things:
- Walk around the motorhome and check for any dings, dents, or damage to the body.
- Check the windows and doors to make sure they can be locked properly.
- Look for any mismatched paintwork (this might be a sign of a botched repair job.
- Look for evidence of DIY modifications (these can nullify insurance if not declared).
- Check the tyres and tyre walls.
- Check the exhaust for any signs of damage.
- Check for any strange smells or odours as these can be a sign of damp.
- Check under seats and in cupboards for mould.
- Make sure you have the instruction manuals for built-in appliances.
- Check for delamination by walking across the floor to see if there are soft patches.
- Check the bathroom for mould, damp, or any areas that have not been properly sealed.
- Run a data check on the motorhome to check whether it has been stolen or written off, or if there is outstanding finance that hasn’t been declared by the seller.
- Ask for the V5C logbook.
- Check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) against the information in the V5C.
What are the most reliable motorhomes?
For used motorhome buyers, there are a few makes and models that were top of class upon release and still offer a comfortable and high quality experience in 2021. The Autocruise Stardream was released in 2008 when you could expect to have paid around £42,000, but you can get your hands on one today for £25,000. With a spacious two-berth and U-shaped seating conversion, it’s all about providing luxury and comfort for two people.
If you’re looking to invest in a used motorhome that the whole family can enjoy, the Bürstner Argos A747-2G comes in with a used price of £37,000. It was voted Motorhome of the Year in 2007, overcoming the odds with its enormous overcab which is built on a tag-axle chassis. Simple to drive in spite of its 5,000kg weight and 8.86m length, it comes with a 3-litre engine and a hi-spec interior and is top of class for lovers of larger motorhomes who don’t want to pay for a new one.
It’s best to opt for a motorhome from a reputable manufacturer - the most popular in the UK are Hymer, Devon Conversions, Auto Sleeper, Bilbo, and Volkswagen.
What is the cost of owning a motorhome?
Owning and running a motorhome doesn’t need to be as expensive as you might think. On average, you are likely to pay between £250-£400 per year for insurance, between £250-£500 for servicing and maintenance, and between £165-£270 in tax - although all these numbers depend greatly on the type of motorhome you have and how often you intend to use it.
Insurance costs can be kept to a minimum if you can prove you keep your motorhome locked away and safe from thieves. You may also be able to arrange limited mileage/agreed mileage cover if you are able to keep below a set mileage in a year.
Keeping your motorhome in good nick is the best way to ensure you don’t have to spend over the odds in terms of maintenance and repair costs. Considering the price of flights and the obvious difficulty in getting abroad nowadays, the ends might really outweigh the means for keen travellers.