There’s a growing number of people in the UK who enjoy nothing more than taking off in their motorhomes at a moment’s notice. You just can’t beat that feeling of grabbing the ignition keys, hopping on board and seeing where the road takes you – even if you’re not sure where you’ll be stopping that night!
Buying a motorhome or mobile home of your own is a big investment. So it’s essential that you think carefully about the model and do thorough research on everything from the size of the motorhome, to the facilities inside and even the type of motorhome insurance coverage that’s going to be right for you.
Who can I buy a used motorhome from?
Hiring a motorhome
Firstly, why not consider hiring a motorhome before committing to buy one outright? This is an option that many people are considering before committing themselves to a full purchase. After all, it’s one thing admiring that polished, gleaming vehicle in a showroom, and quite another trying to manouver it around tight country lanes while a growing line of traffic waits behind you.
Should you buy from a dealer?
Buying your new motorhome from a dealer would appear, on the face of it, to be one of the best ways to get a quality motorhome and, importantly, reliable and assured after-sales service. But how do you find a good one? The best, tried-and-tested way to find a dealer is still through word of mouth – that way you can be sure of excellent customer service.
Most good dealers sell both new and used motorhomes. But as the market in pre-owned models is expanding, many dealers are increasingly relying on that side of the business. If you can find a local dealer near where you live, so much the better. That will makes things easier if you have to go back for servicing or if you need to call in for a spot of advice.
Buying at a motor show
Specialised motorhome shows are excellent places to see a wide range of new motorhomes on display. Throughout the UK, you can find large indoor exhibitions as well as open-air shows throughout the year. Here you can feast your eyes on the latest layouts, styles and designs, see brand new motorhome gadgets and talk to specialists about motorhome insurance.
Also, as we’ve already briefly touched on, it’s worth considering all the costs involved (time included) before committing to buying from a dealer at the other end of the country, however good the initial ‘show’ price may be. You don’t want to be driving miles around the UK to have repairs done under warranty, for example. It might turn out to be a false economy.
You’ll find everything under the sun online, and auction sites selling motorhomes are no exception. Sites like eBay have a lot of motorhomes for sale and, no doubt many of them represent good value for money. But, ‘buyer, beware’, as the saying goes. Make sure the person who’s selling the vehicle is the genuine registered owner and when it comes to paying, don’t hand over any cash until you’ve had time to conduct a proper inspection.
There is a government advice service available for those buying used vehicles. These allow you to investigate whether there’s any unpaid credit due on the vehicle and if it’s been flagged as an insurance write-off, along with other potential warning signs.
In 2001, The UK motorhome industry joined forces with independent vehicle check provider, HPI, to offer the industry a specialist service for recreational vehicles and motor homes. This MINDER service consists of a security and asset registration system to assist you in making the right decisions at the moment you buy your motorhome. It has a database with information about stolen or fraudulently-obtained motorhomes and it populates this database by recording any conversion details against the base vehicle details listed in the vehicle's logbook.
Many UK-built motorhomes manufactured between 2001 and 2007 had a unique MIN (Motorhome Identification Number) next to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and as well as a Vehicle Registration Mark (the number plate). The MIN is usually carved discreetly on the motorhome and a concealed electronic tag will be located inside the vehicle. The MIN has gradually been replaced with other unique identifiers over the last few years. All the relevant information is stored in the HPI database, and that has a checking service which allows you to search for information about your house trailer, motorhome or campervan.
A habitation service refers to the habitation areas of your motorhome. The checks carried out in this service include a damp check, electrical and gas safety checks, testing the vehicle’s chassis mountings, testing of any appliances and an internal water system inspection.
What brand of motorhome is the best?
When it comes to choosing the best make of motorhome, it isn’t easy to pick one in particular which stands head and shoulders above the rest. However, there are certain brands whose names spring to mind – and certain companies will be mentioned again and again on motorhome forums.
The most recent ranking of the best recreational vehicles appeared in What Motorhome magazine and they categorise their choices by size. When it comes to models costing under £50,000, they rate the VW Birchover very highly, due to the high standard of fittings and very good price-quality relationship.
If you have over £50,000 to spend, the VW California Ocean 2.0 TDI 199 PS DSG came out on top. And in the coachbuilt category for motorhomes under £55,000, Elddis scooped the top prize again with the Encore 255.
Best brand overall
Three names stand out in the motorhome sector in terms of brand quality and recognition.
German company Hymer is renowned for its luxurious fittings, high-quality build and outstanding performance and reliability. From the family-sized HYMER T-Class SL to the HYMERCAR campervan, it offers a wide range of sizes and models. It’s also at the higher end of the price spectrum, so if you believe the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’, look for a model from this maker.
Another brand name to look out for is Adria motorhomes. They recently won New Motorhomes Best Manufacturer (Multi-dealer) and Pre-owned Motorhomes Best Manufacturer (Multi-dealer) in the Practical Motorhome magazine Motorhome Owner Satisfaction Awards 2019. Its new Ranger campervan got particular mentions for its quality, price and Fiat engine. It fits well into the trend for smaller mobile homes, but there are also other models and sizes in their product range.
The third name is Auto Sleepers, a British company that also won an award from Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome readers in the customer satisfaction category. This company has a long tradition of producing excellent motorhomes and campervans, notable for sleek and practical designs and the innovative design of its interior.
Of course, there is a surprisingly large range of motorhome manufacturers out there and they are all competing in a highly specialised niche market, so you should spend plenty of time researching exactly what you want (and need) from your campervan or motorhome. In fact, the next category we will look at is the used market, as this accounts for a pretty stable part of overall UK sales according to statistics released recently by the National Caravanning Council.
What is the best small motorhome to buy?
As a matter of fact, there has been a distinct trend towards downsizing in the motorhome sector over the last few years. This is due to an increase in the number of motorhomes whose length is slightly under 6.0m, which is regarded as the top limit for manoeuvrability when attempting to park in a traditional car park space. Additionally, 6 metres is when the next price category by length kicks in when travelling across the Channel or the North Sea to Europe by ferry or Eurostar. Therefore, it appears to be a nod in the direction of cost-consciousness as much as anything.
You can find out plenty of rankings, lists and reviews of the best small camper vans, but essentially, it’s best to look for high quality in the build as well as a perfectionist approach to the details. It’s useful to find out whether the manufacturer allows you to choose different colours or patterns for elements like seat covers or panels, if the ones in the showroom don’t inspire you. It’s also recommended that you draw up a list of the essentials for you – the kind of roof, passenger seats and lounge area you want, the type of heating and the size of the bed and whatever else is important to you.
How do I choose a used motorhome?
Selecting the best second-hand motorhome from the thousands listed on the ‘for sale’ pages online or in the local press can be quite daunting, even for those with previous experience of motorhome ownership. What makes and models are the best? Which dealers are reliable? Which should I avoid? Is there a checklist for assessing the condition of a used motorhome or recreational vehicle or campervan?
The wisest idea is to look for a nearly-new motorhome, as you can make significant savings compared with buying a new model. Motorhomes depreciate in value much slower than cars, but even a high-end model which is two to three years old can give you a substantial saving compared with buying a brand-new model off the forecourt.
Some nearly-new motorhomes can be up to £10,000 cheaper than when they are brand new, but ultimately, it depends on the overall condition of the vehicle.
Another point in favour of searching for a nearly-new motorhome is that it often has less than 10,000 miles on the clock and, on average, is less likely to have had any problems under warranty from the original owner.
Of course, buying second hand will somewhat limit the choice of what’s available and you might have to search for a while to find a model with all the specifications you need. But usually the price differential can make it all worthwhile.
Can you live in a motorhome?
You can live in a motorhome on a permanent basis but this could mean you need specialist insurance and that you’ll probably need to give thought to where you are actually going to park up, as you’ll probably be on the move rather a lot.
Many people have experience of living permanently in their recreational vehicle (they’re known as ‘full-timers’). Their advice is worth searching out because there’s nothing like hearing about the experience from the horse’s mouth.
What motorhome insurance do I need?
When it comes to a motorhome, we are talking about an extraordinary vehicle that:
- Will cost you considerably more than the average family car
- You’ll probably be using for long journeys and journeys overseas
- Will typically contain a good deal of valuable fittings and furnishings as well as personal possessions.
Therefore, you’ll need specialist motorhome insurance coverage to protect your vehicle and your possessions when you’re out and about. Motorhome Protect is here to help you compare prices, so you get the very best deal for you.
Some of the benefits of purchasing motorhome insurance through us can include:
- Unlimited cover across the EU
- Cover for camping personal effects up to £3,000
- Introductory NCB allowance
- Cover for motorhomes with a value up to £150,000
When you’re checking out those new motorhome designs at the next show, remember to speak to some clubs and associations, too. Some insurers offer discounts for club members, so it could end up saving you pounds in the long run.
We can even search for motorhome insurance for those people with claims and convictions, so no matter what’s happened in the past, you can still find competitively prices motorhome insurance through Motorhome Protect.
Perhaps you’re dreaming of restoring your very own classic motorhome? We can even offer cover that lasts for 6 months while you complete your restoration.
Get in touch with us today and find the motorhome insurance that fits your needs.