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Buying a used camper trailer
Buying a used camper trailer

Buying a used camper trailer

August 13, 2021
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There are many important items to inspect when buying a used camper trailer. Firstly, you need to understand whether the sale price reflects the market price. If the sale price is over-inflated, walk-away. Don’t purchase a used camper trailer based on your emotional attachment to it. Instead, you are better to use logic, combined with a practical approach to drive the decision making process.

 

So let’s cover the main talking points when it comes to purchasing a used camper trailer. Use all the online buying portals you can find, such as (Gumtree, FaceBook Marketplace, and the Caravan Camping Sales website) to drill down to the used camper trailer make and models you are interested in. You should see an average listing price, based on inclusions and year of manufacture. Jot this information down as it will be the pricing benchmark when looking for a used camper trailer.

 

Assuming you have found the used camper trailer of your dreams, the next thing to assess is the roadworthiness, inclusions, and overall presentation. If you are not mechanically minded, consider using an industry expert to give the used camper trailer a pre-purchase inspection.

 

RedBook offers a camper trailer inspection service for as little as $150. This is money well-spent in our opinion.

Used Camper Trailer Inspection

used camper trailer inspection

Check the VIN and Registration Documents

 

  • Have a close look at the compliance plate and satisfy yourself that it’s the original plate and not a counterfeit that’s been recently added.
  • A fresh-looking plate and new rivets should sound alarm bells. Another obvious check that’s not always done is to ensure the VIN matches the registration sticker numbers exactly.
  • A little oil misting on the outside of shock absorber tubes is normal, but heavy oil flow indicates failed shockers.
  • Severely worn and torn shock absorber bushes are signs of abuse.
  • Look at the condition of the braking system cables and wiring, checking for loose wiring ties, frayed steel cables and stone damage. You’ll spot any DIY electrical work when you see wires pass through bodywork without a protective grommet.
  • If the chassis and running gear checks out OK it’s time to investigate the camper equipment and the tent. When you open the camper, examine the water/dust seals and the locking clips for integrity. Look for signs of water and dusty entry around seals and catches.

Towing a Camper Trailer

A tow test is an important part of the pre-purchase, either by passengering in the owner’s tow vehicle, or better, by coupling your own vehicle to the trailer. You should be feeling for the trailer’s braking system operation and listening for any sounds of protest from it. At the end of the tow, put your hand on the trailer hubs to check their rolling temperature.

It’s always best to get the chassis, bodywork, drawbar, hitch, welds, canvas, tyres, gas, electrical, plumbing, and bearings checked. Each camper will be unique in it’s own way. Factor in any repairs, replacement parts, or modifications into your purchase price at the negotiation stage.

towing a camper trailer
Credit: Matt Williams Photography (www.mattwilliamsphotography.com)

Checking your Camper Trailer Canvas

The joy of owning a camper trailer can become one of frustration when it comes to managing the canvas component of your camper trailer. Thankfully, thousands before you have enjoyed family camping with canvas in the past. The key to ensuring your holiday is hassle-free is to pre-treat your canvas, lubricate the zips, season the canvas, and store when dry.

 

If you start to see signs of mould or mildew, spray 9 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Let the canvas dry completely and then remove all traces of mould using a brush and vacuum cleaner.

 

At some stage you will have to pack up your camper trailer with the canvas wet or damp. As soon as you get home, erect the camper trailer in the sun and allow the canvas to dry. Remove any sap, bird droppings, or foreign matter on your canvas as soon as you can. Use water only (no chemicals) along with a soft to medium bristled brush.

 

Once the canvas is dry, pack the camper away. Check the camper trailer canvas for any tears or rips. You can buy repair tape or canvas patches from camping stores, or online.

The bottom line

In summary, it is important to buy a used camper at a fair market price. It’s also equally important to ensure the camper trailer is fit for purpose, safe, and suitable for your particular camping needs.

 

As an average rule of thumb, most campers tend to hold onto their camper trailers between 2-5 years, so factor in the depreciation costs over time, and ask yourself if the investment makes financial sense as well. If you need finance, consider a broker.

 

Don’t buy a used camper trailer that will be hard to on-sell. The other option is to search for camper trailers online.

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