Buying a New Motorhome: 5 Top Tips
In this blog I’m going to give you 5 top tips when buying a new motorhome. If you’re considering buying your first motorhome, or a new motorhome, this will help you.
Our own buying experience was based on these tips. We have ordered our first motorhome after having a motorhoming experience of three months, and we absolutely loved it. We compared that against our caravan ownership, which we had owned for two years.
Research online, use the internet to research the manufacturers, local dealerships, customer reviews and Facebook owners groups. You can discover a great deal from other peoples ownership experiences.
You need to consider the layout of the motorhome you want. Ask yourself, how many people are going to be using the motorhome, where do you intend to travel, how far are you going and how many nights away will you be going for. If you intend touring Europe and using large campsites then you may be less concerned about the size of your motorhome. If you want to explore small Cornish or Scottish villages then you should consider something smaller. You want to find the motorhome that’s going to give you the berths and travelling seats you need.
When people talk about motorhomes types there is the A-Class, which is also known as an integrated motorhome. They’re generally built on the chassis of a Fiat or a Mercedes. An A-Class is integrated with the cab and provides a huge panoramic front window. They are popular in Europe and offer good head room internally. These cost a little bit more, more often than not, and are going to start at around seven meters in length and go upwards to nine meters and beyond. The most affordable A-Class is produced by Roller Team. At the luxury end you have Concorde, Kabe and Neismann&Bischoff.
The other type of motorhome is the coach built, usually built on the Fiat Ducato or Citroen chassis. Several European manufacturers use a Mercedes chassis too. With coach built the body extends out slightly wider than the cab itself. You can find an over cab where a bed is located above the cab. A low profile coach built has a much lower and sleeker front above the cab.
Whilst researching online visit YouTube, you’re going to get a lot of sound advice on YouTube. Have a look at motorhome reviews and trips others have taken. You don’t need to visit a dealership to see right inside these products. Online magazines provide advice and one motorhome expert is Dave Hurrell, he’s certainly worth looking up. Facebook groups are another great place to go because you’re going to get owners opinions of a product you might be considering. When you start researching a motorhome it may not be suitable for you after all.
Once you’ve done your research you need to check you have the required category on your licence. If you passed your driving test before the 1st January 1997 you will automatically have the C1category on your licence. You can check your categories on the front and rear of your licence. This means you could drive a motorhome up to 7.5 tonnes.
If you passed your driving test after the 1st January 1997 you can only drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes on your B category. It’s the same category that allows you to drive your car. Check before you get your hopes up about a dream motorhome that you can actually drive it. If you’re wanting to upgrade your licence you could take your C1 test and that’s going to cost you around £1000. That would enable you then to drive up to a 7.5 tonne vehicle number.
If you want to tow a trailer or small car behind your 3.5 tonne motorhome you will need the BE category. To tow behind a motorhome over 3.5 tonnes you will need the C1E category. Full details can be found on the Government website.
You must be careful not to overload a 3.5 tonne motorhome as some have low payloads.
Set a budget and try your best to stick to it. We set our budget and we did go a little bit due to the engine power we chose. By setting a budget you won’t be drawn in to looking at the motorhomes you cannot afford.
Consider how you will be financing your purchase. It could be through cash, a HP or PCP agreement, or a loan. Your dealer will be able to arrange finance secured on the motorhome for you. Buying with finance does offer more financial protection.
As well as the outlay of the vehicle, you will have accessories to consider such as levelling devices, security, bedding and other equipment. Remember to budget for insurance, Roadside Assistance and servicing in the future. You can visit the Caravan Guard website and obtain a quote for your motorhome insurance. Caravan Guard motorhome insurance does include UK roadside assistance and this does not have any length or weight restrictions. European roadside assistance can be added as an option.
If you cannot store your motorhome at home you will need to budget for storage which varies. An average cost if £500 a year and the CaSSOA website provides details of storage sites close to you.
This is where we it gets exciting, going to the dealerships! Once you’ve researched online, you know what you can drive, you know what you can afford, go to a dealerships. Search the dealerships around you for the manufacturers that you’re interested in looking at. In terms of UK manufacturers we’ve got Elddis, Swift, Bailey, Auto-Trail and Auto-Sleepers. If you’re interested in a European motorhome consider Adria, Burstner, Hymer, Dethleffs, Chausson, Roller Team, Carado, Knaus, Hobby and Benimar. There are plenty to chose from and a visit to a dealership allows you to get a feel for them.
Take your time looking at the exterior first, where is the electric hook up point, where is the water fill and external pump, does it have a garage, is there a rear view camera. Look at the equipment you will be getting as standard and what will be an optional extra.
Make sure you like the appearance of the motorhome. Go inside the motorhome next, how does it feel to you, are you immediately drawn to it. You will have questions and it can get quite confusing when you start looking.
Look at the kitchen and the appliances, does it provide everything you are looking for. Will the fridge be large enough for you and your family? Is there an oven fitted and do you need a microwave? Is the bathroom large enough for you? Is the bed at the right height to be able to get in to easily? There are plenty of questions to ask yourself.
Take your time looking at the models and take some photos, or a short video, for later reference. It might be the dealer has a motorhome you can test drive. Be aware that a motorhome will be different to driving a car. There will be plenty of rattling noises from the habitation area and a motorhome is based on a van cab and chassis.
You can watch our vlog to see a number of different layouts available to you. Click the video below to play the vlog.
Negotiate on the Purchase
Once you have found the perfect motorhome for you, you need to negotiate with the dealer and this is the important part. Decide on your dealership, for some people they recommend to buy nearer to home. This is because if there are any warranty issues on your motorhome you’re going to be going back to the dealer that you bought from. It is worthwhile ringing around dealerships that sell the motorhome that you’re wanting to get a price. You may get a better deal at different dealership, even though it might mean traveling an hour or two, it’s completely up to you. Once you’ve negotiated that good price don’t forget you might be able to get a discount on extras for your motorhome. This could be an alarm and tracker, an awning, solar panels or an air conditioning unit. Negotiate, negotiate and do a bit more negotiation and if needs be walk away. Don’t sign up there and then if you’re not happy. Don’t be pushed into something you’re not comfortable with, come away have a think, seek advice from other people.
Once you’ve negotiated the deal that you’re happy with, and put your deposit down, wait for delivery. When the motorhome arrives you’ll go to your dealership for collection, it’s really important when you have your hand over that you listen to what they’re saying. If possible film and record the hand over process because, believe me, two minutes down the road when you’re all excited on the way to the campsite you won’t remember any of it.
Important information is how to isolate the gas, which key fits what, where you plug in your electric hook up and how to work your fresh and waste water tanks.
These are five top tips for buying a new motorhome, the list does go on as there’s so much to it. But consider these things are you will be well on your way.
Layout is certainly important and one thing we were told by Dave Hurrell was ‘buy the smallest motorhome you can live with’. Having had a six metre motorhome on loan we decided to order a seven metre one. This was because I wanted a fixed bed, for me the compromise of the fixed bed was something that I couldn’t sacrifice. I would pass Dave’s sound advice on to you.