What questions should you ask when buying a camper van?
If you are in the market to buy a pre-built camper van you need to make sure you are asking the right questions when you find one that takes your fancy. In this post we’re sharing some of the questions we asked before choosing our VW T5 to convert into a day van and more questions you should ask when buying a camper van.
Buying a camper van: questions you should ask
When buying a camper van from a reputable dealer they will usually guide you through the process. You can be relatively sure they will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.
But if you are looking privately you may want to ask some questions before setting out for a viewing. This will ensure there are no surprises.
Read our post about how to find a camper van or a van to convert.
Here’s what to ask when buying a camper van or day van:
Who did the conversion?
You will want to know who carried out the conversion work. Are you looking at a mainstream conversation from one of the larger companies? A specialist conversion from a smaller company? Or a self built weekend project van?
If you can, check out the company that did the conversion by searching for them online. If they are still trading you will probably find some reviews which will give you an indication on the quality of the conversion. If it’s a self build, is this reflected in the price and are you confident in the seller’s workmanship?
What manufacture are the roof and bed?
The roof and bed can make up as much as two thirds of the cost of a camper conversion and vary drastically in price.
There are many debates in online forums about the differences between roof manufactures and also the use of non-branded roofs.
It’s worth knowing what you are looking at and having an idea of where the possible pros and cons are. Trusted brand names such as Austops, HiLo and SCA may command a higher price over non-branded counterparts.
Beds can also come in various shapes, sizes and from different manufactures. Crash tested beds, like those made by Reimo, and beds with ISOFIX points will be important to those who intend to carry passengers and children regularly.
Read more about how we sleep a family of four in our VW Transporter beds.
Is it registered as a camper van?
Most camper vans start life as either panel vans or kombis. Once converted you can apply to the DVLA to have the V5 changed to a motor caravan. This can have several benefits; from the legal speed the vehicle can be driven at, through to tax and insurance implications.
If it hasn’t been registered you may want to consider getting the V5 changed yourself, as long as the vehicle meets the requirements.
What is the registration number?
- exactly what vehicle you are buying
- seeing if it has had a colour change
- if it has failed an MOT and if so why
- and also mileage.
Does the camper van have a habitation certificate or gas safety certificate?
If the camper van has a gas locker you will want to make sure it has been correctly installed. This is particularly important if the installation is a DIY job.
Rules on gas installation in a camper van are far less strict than those for in a home, but there are still British Safety Standards that should be followed (BS EN 1949: 2001 + A1:2013).
You also need to be aware of electrical installations, especially where mains voltage is concerned. You can get all the services in the camper van checked by a dealer for peace of mind after a purchase but it’s worth asking if the current owner has any documentation.
What was the base vehicle?
As already alluded to, base vans come in a wide range of specifications. Just like buying a car, there will be certain safety features and optional extras that you may wish to look out for; air conditioning for example.
Many camper vans are built on base model panel vans to keep the cost down so additional luxuries will cost more but these help if and when you decide to sell the vehicle.
VW Transporters also come in various weight carrying specifications: T28, T30 and T32; or to put it another way 2.8 tonnes, 3 tonnes and 3.2 tonnes. The heavier weight classes often have better brakes and uprated suspension, so its worth doing your research.
A camper that started life as a kombi van will usually have higher value. This is because they were more expensive to buy new and there can be some advantages such as factory fitted windows.
Read more tips on buying a camper van or day van.
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