Recreational vehicles is a generic term for a vehicle that has living space attached to it, there are many different types of recreational vehicle, including motor homes, trailers and camper vans. They are a great way to explore the country (or even the continent) as they give you the freedom to see what you want when you want.
How often will it be used?
If you’ve decided you want to invest in one of these vehicles, the first thing you’ll need to do is establish how often you’re going to be using it. If you’ve recently retired and want to see some of the world, you’ll ideally be looking for something akin to a small house, it will need plenty of room, flushing toilets, running hot showers and proper cooking facilities. If you’ve decided you would simple like to go exploring for long weekends and a few weeks here and there in the summer, a smaller model may be more appropriate (would you even have room to keep a large motorhome on your drive?)
What sort of vehicle do you want?
Now you’ve established exactly what it’s going to be used for, you need to decide what sort of model you’d like. American motorhomes are generally the largest recreational vehicles on the market, as well as being bigger they’re generally built to last longer and are more durable. They also tend to be constructed with an aluminum fiberglass sidewall and are more heavy duty; of course this does mean they’re little more expensive. The European motorhome will come in slightly smaller sizes and tend to be wood construction, and although they may not last as long as their American counterparts, they will be a little cheaper, to buy, maintain and run.
How big does it need to be?
Once you’ve decided whether you want a large motorhome or a more economical one, you need to decide what sort of class you want. These generally go from a B class which is a campervan, B+ which is slightly bigger but follows the same general theme of the B class with the curved side walls. The C class is slightly bigger and more practical if you’re planning on spending any amount of time in it. The A class make up the majority of the American market and are the biggest vehicle available, this would be perfectly suitable to live in, but this model would also be the most expensive. Remember the maximum length for a recreational vehicle on UK roads is 12 meters.
Pusher, puller, petrol or diesel?
Although this decision may well be taken out of your hands if you’ve already decided the size, you’ll want to look into pushers and pullers. Pushers and pullers are more common among American motorhomes and refer to where the engine is. A puller will have the engine at the front and since 2002 they are made exclusively with a petrol engine. Pullers are entry-level vehicles and are therefore a little cheaper. A pusher will have the engine at the back and will be a diesel and because they’re more expensive they will be of a higher quality.
Now you’ve done your research, you may have even decided to rent one for a week or two to make sure it’s what you want. The next thing you’ll need to do is actually go and look at some. Before you go, set aside a realistic budget and make notes of exactly what you want for your money. You don’t have to be as specific as a make and model but decide whether you want a hot running shower or a built in cooker, if you want, set a second budget as your absolute limit to include things you’d like but are not essential. If you’ve got this clearly in your mind you are less likely to be talked into something you didn’t want when you go to look at any potential new motorhomes.
Buying a motorhome is likely to be one of the biggest purchases you make in your lifetime text to buying a house and unfortunately, whereas a house can increase in value your motorhome is only likely to depreciate. Look at buying a motorhome like you would buy a car. If you’re going for a private sale be very careful, as you’re unlikely to have any come back if it turns out to be a lemon. Check the vehicle registration certificate (the log book), if you’re buying from a private seller check it matches their home address (if it doesn’t they may be selling it for a friend or they may have a dealership they’re struggling to sell it though). Take someone who knows enough about engines with you to check it out, if the owner wont let you have a look under the bonnet, walk away. Remember, there are more people out there trying to sell second hand motorhomes than there are people trying to buy them, if it looks too good to be true it probably is.
Buying from a dealer
If you can afford to, it’s better to go to a main dealer, just like when you buy a car, you’re more likely to get a warranty and even if you have to listen to some of their sales pitch at least you know it’s coming from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Even at a dealership you are still entitles to ask questions, see the logbook, have a poke under the bonnet and see a service history. A good, reputable RV dealership will have an onsite service center or be able to recommend one which specialises in RV services and maintenance (no matter how perfect it may be when you get it, at some point it will need MOT and servicing).
Once you’ve got your vehicle, you still need to be legal to drive it, anything over 7.5 tones cant be driven with a standard UK driving licence and don’t forget your insurance too, again, this is all something a reputable dealership will be able to help you with.