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Ultimate Guide to Buying a Used Campervan - Camplify

Thursday 21st September 2017
By Cam Donovan
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By Cam Donovan
Welcome.

You join tens of thousands of other Australians that are pondering the thought of joining the #VanLife. 

Buying a campervan is the beginning of an exciting journey towards the road-trip adventures you’ve pictured in your mind.

Unfortunately, not much in life is cheap — especially freedom on wheels! if you’re not careful and well-versed, taking the step into campervan life can prove to be both expensive and painful.

For the budget-conscious buyers, a second hand campervan is usually the only option that makes sense. And, to be honest, that’s quite often the best option anyway.

To (hopefully) help you get the most bang for your buck, we’ve compiled a detailed guide for you to consider before your leap into owning a used campervan.


The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Used Campervan

 

When you first decide that it’s time to buy a campervan, you’ve generally got three basic options to consider:

  1. Fork out $80k + for a brand-new, ready-fitted-out campervan
  2. Buy a second hand ready-fitted-out campervan
  3. Buy a stock-standard van and then fit it out as a camper
While we encourage to remain slightly open to each option, it’s generally a good idea to nut out the basic decision of new vs used early on. When it comes to a custom fit out, it’s always harder than you think — and many people end up biting off way more than they can chew. 

Besides, campervan fitouts are probably another topic for another article. 

You’ll discover that this article is mainly concerned with option number two; buying a second hand campervan . What you should you look out for, what the best brands are, and how you can save money are just a few of the important topics tingling on the tip of any campervan-buyer’s tongues.

Before you buy a campervan, or any RV for the matter, research should always be your first port of call.



Aaaand....CONGRATULATIONS — you’ve officially started ticking that box by simply reading this guide!

As with all research, there are many different bases you need to cover before discovering the best used campervan to buy. 

This buying guide encourages you to ask yourself some very important questions along the way — mainly to ensure that you stay grounded throughout the process.

Yes, it is tempting to buy that van you just saw with the gorgeous recycled timber furnishings, huge king-sized bed and dreamy bohemian-style curtains, but, are they really your priorities when buying a campervan? If you think they are, then we urge you to step back and reconsider.

 


Skip to topics:

 

 

 

 

 


WHY are you buying a campervan?



This question may seem obvious, but it has become increasingly evident to us that many people buy a campervan based on two things: emotion coupled with a perceived need for every feature under the sun.

We think the three main reasons one becomes attracted to buying a campervan these days are as followed:

  1. You're easy accommodation wherever you go;
  2. You’re going on a trip around Australia or;
  3. You’re planning to earn an income by renting it out while you don’t use it
If you’re anticipating that you’ll only use the van for the odd weekend trip away, bear that in mind when you’re looking for one to buy. Keep it simple. Do you really need a van that is kitted out with 2 huge solar panels and all the bells and whistles necessary for free-camping? Save yourself the money by keeping it simple and suited to your most-common needs.

If you’re planning to go on a trip around Australia, or even live in the van for any extended period of time, then it’s obviously wise to take an approach to suit this. Do your research and think about all of the things you’d need to live comfortably during a long trip. All of a sudden those solar panels and large fridge don’t sound so silly, right?

Thanks to Camplify and the rapid growth of the sharing economy in Australia, you can now easily earn money from your campervan whilst you’re not using it. Unsurprisingly, many people are now factoring this idea into their campervan purchase decision.

We’ve seen a similar case with people deciding to buy a property with the intention of renting it out on Airbnb. If the idea of renting out your freedom machine suits you, then it is  definitely worth factoring this into your purchase. Ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. How much money could this campervan earn me on Camplify?
  2. What do hirers want in a campervan these days?
  3. How often would I be prepared to rent it out?

STOP just there for just a second...

Before we go any further with all of this campervan talk, have you even considered the other RV types yet? In case you aren't on the same page, by “RV”, we mean a caravan, camper trailer or — perhaps more relevantly — a motorhome?

Whilst this guide is generally to do with used campervan buyers, many prospects will, at some stage, consider buying an alternative RV type.

Motorhomes, caravans and camper trailers have come a long way over the past 30 years. We even did an article about it recently; check it out here.

Once again, your buying decision should be all about your needs. Not your 'wants'.

Whatever you do, please don’t get caught up in the endless debate of whether campervans & motorhomes are ‘better’ than caravans & camper trailers. Everyone has different needs and, in reality, you’ll always have to sacrifice a few things no matter which RV type you choose to buy.

Campervan & motorhome owners will point out the convenience of not needing a tow-vehicle and being able to pull up just about anywhere without the need for much space or set-up time.

This is a pretty awesome aspect — especially considering that you (theoretically) don’t even need to set foot outside!

Caravan & camper trailer owners will counter this argument, suggesting that: campervans & motorhomes provide less flexibility when arriving at your destination, the depreciation of caravans is generally slower, and so on.

Consider these things, of course. But again, please don’t think that there is an RV that is the ‘perfect’ solution to any person’s needs. ‘Perfection’, as most people know it, is impossible — especially when it comes to camping & RVs.

Besides, imperfections and make-do’s are often what make camping and RV life so special, right?

Anyway, back to campervans and the next burning question...


HOW do you plan to use your future campervan?



Now that you know WHY you’re buying a campervan, you need to think about HOW you actually plan to use it. Here a few typical campervan buyer scenarios that we could think of:


Campervan buyer type 1:

This van is going to be your everyday car AND freedom machine. It’s completely fine if that’s the case, but we urge you to at least consider these key recommendations:

  • Get one that is fuel efficient. A smaller/lighter van or a diesel/turbo-diesel will suit you better. The cost of fuel seriously sucks, so it’s worth spending a bit more money on a more efficient campervan.
  • Consider the cost of servicing the vehicle. If you’re using the car daily, you’ll be putting lots of kilometres on it. Frequent usage calls for frequent servicing.
  • Consider something a little more 'basic'. If you’re driving it frequently, don’t get something that has all the bells and whistles if you’re not often going to use it for what it is truly designed for (camping, duh!). If you’re mainly buying one so you can chuck the surfboards in the back and sleep in it out the front of your mate’s house, keep it basic and you’ll save yourself a lot of money and hassle.

Campervan buyer type 2:

  • You’re a keen explorer, have a separate ‘everyday’ car and you plan to travel a to your favourite local campsites in the campervan over most weekends. Consider these recommendations:
  • Don’t worry too much about the fuel-efficiency aspect. Of course it’s always preferable to have the most fuel-efficient car, but trust us in the fact that you’ll most likely have to put up the extra initial capital to own it. If you’re only going on short trips weekends, you’re probably not going to notice much difference between a petrol and a diesel. That extra few grand that you drop during the purchase? That’s probably going to hurt more than just paying a bit extra to fill up your tank every now and then.
  • Consider the destinations you plan to frequent. What sort of things are handy to have while you’re camping there? Do you really need a toilet onboard? Do you really need ALL of that storage space, or would you prefer a bigger, comfier bed? You get the point — tailor the features and design to your needs.

Campervan buyer type 3:

From our experience in the RV industry, we find that it is most common for campervan owners to use their home on wheels for a few days, every month or so. It’s at around 6 weeks per year on average, actually.  If this sounds like the type of owner that you’ll likely be, consider these things:

  • Do you have a safe place to store the campervan? You wouldn’t want it sitting in your driveway blocking off access. It’s also not great to have it sitting out in the weather — especially if you live near the beach. Building on this, it would be wise to consider purchasing some sort of protective cover for all of those days it is going to be just sitting there unused.
  • Consider hiring it out on Camplify to recoup some of your ownership costs. These days, it has become super common for campervan owners to rent their freedom machines out to others using Camplify. It’s the same concept that Airbnb has for owners of holiday houses. Don’t let it just sit there. Earn a few hundred extra bucks during the 46 weeks of the year that you’re not travelling in it — AND free up that space on your driveway!

Campervan buyer type 4:

Don’t think we’ve forgotten about those of you that are in the midst of visualising a big, trip-of-a-lifetime-style journey in a campervan. We think it’s an awesome idea — and it’s no doubt been jotted down on many a bucket-list around the world. But what are the key things to consider if you’re using a campervan to travel Australia?

  • Fuel efficiency is an obvious choice here. If you’re travelling Australia in a campervan, you’re no doubt going to be racking up a heap of kilometres, which means that fuel is one of your biggest expenses. Try your best to get a diesel — especially if you’re travelling solo and can’t split the cost of each tank!
  • Buy a campervan that is capable of free-camping. There are lots of free, or at least very cheap, camping spots around Australia. However, many of them include little or no access to water, power, toilets and other basic needs. Your potential keywords here: solar panels, dual battery, shower, water tanks, stove, fridge, roof racks and so on. The best thing about being set up for free-camping? You’ll save a tonne of cash on campground fees.
  • One word: reliability. Granted; it’s not a complete nightmare if you break down somewhere near home on your weekend trip in the van, but, if you’re 2000km from home and the engine blows up, you’re in for some pretty nasty financial and logistical pain. Spend the time and money sorting through the lemons — it’s well worth the peace of mind.

Campervan buyer type 5:

Lastly, but definitely not leastly, we’re also considering those of you that have that little bit of ‘entrepreneurial flair’.

What do we mean by this? Well, since the explosion of the sharing economy and sites like Camplify that come with it, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people that buy a campervan as a pure investment.

Don’t get this confused with investment in terms of buying an old Kombi, fixing it up and then reselling it for a profit — we’re talking about people that are buying a campervan for the pure reason of earning rental income. Starting a ‘campervan hire business’, even.

As the leading peer-to-peer RV sharing community in Australia, we’re more than happy to give some advice to people wanting to buy a campervan as an investment:

  • Consider your competition. Visit Camplify and search for other campervans that are listed for hire in your area. What are those owners charging per night? What sort of vans do they have? It’s also worth researching commercial camper hire companies, such as Apollo, Wicked and so on. What do they offer their customers?
  • Use our specially-designed hire pricing calculator to calculate your potential earnings. Does this match up with your required repayments or desired return on investment?
  • Contact Camplify to ask some deeper questions about demand in your area and the best type of campervan to invest in.
  • Buy a campervan that is well-suited for hiring. Camplify data suggests that the average number of nights booked for hire is at around 5 nights per booking. Based on this data, it is wise to think about what one would likely ‘need’ for a week-long holiday in a campervan.
  • Consider your location. Does your region experience extreme temperatures? Whereabouts are hirers likely to travel? Hiring members generally treat a campervan holiday as more of a ‘road trip’, meaning that they’re interested in spending a few days getting from A to B — with a few quick stops in between.
If you’re considering buying a campervan for the purpose of renting it out and want to know the next steps. Feel free to [contact us] — we’ve got an expert team dedicated to all different types of RVs.


Identifying your campervan NEEDS



Now that you’ve decided why you’re buying a campervan and how you’ll primarily use it, it’s time to sort out what your ideal campervan needs.


Number of berths:

How many people do you need to sleep in the van? This may seem obvious, but the number of capable berths is generally the foundation to everything else you need. Decide on this first.


Key features:

What are the comforts and functionalities you cannot live without? Common features of a campervan include:

  • Fridge
  • Stove
  • Lighting
  • Curtains
  • Table
  • Customisable layout
  • Sink
  • Water storage
  • Roof racks
  • Bike rack
  • Surfboard racks
  • Sound system
  • Extra seating
  • Solar panels
  • Dual battery
  • Air-conditioning
  • Slide-out drawers
  • Bench space
  • Plus more...

The seller's location

How far are you willing to travel to find your ideal van? You need to be realistic here. Sometimes it just ain’t worth the time, cost and hassle of driving hours upon end to simply ‘check out’ a van. 

We think the location of the seller is a solid 'need' to consider.

If you’re lucky enough to find a local campervan, be sure to use your trusty local mechanic to check it out.


The age of the campervan



The age of the van you need is obviously important to consider. The newer the van is, the better the technology features are. But, the newer the van, the more expensive it is to buy.

When you've found the make and model you're after, it is very wise to do your research on the different year models available.

Search through forums, review sites and even talk to your local mechanic about what does and doesn’t tend to go wrong with certain year models.

The advantage of buying an older van is obviously in the cheaper outlay of capital, however many people also believe that older vans tend to carry more ‘character’ than their newer counterparts.

The negative side to an older van is the fact that they are generally less reliable and have a higher amount of wear and tear.

Ultimately, the age of the van you decide to buy is usually a combination of your preferred style and the depth of your pockets.


Petrol or diesel?

Most people lean straight towards buying a diesel, but is it always the best decision? Generally speaking, you’ll have to fork out more cash to buy a diesel van. And while the fuel economy and overall running cost is quite lower than a petrol, you’ll need to weigh up whether you’ll actually make up for it in the long run.

If you’re only going to use the van from time to time, maybe you’re better off saving the outlay cost by settling with a petrol van.

That said, if you can find a bargain diesel van, go for it!


Automatic or manual?

Again, this mainly depends on why you’re buying a campervan and how you plan to use it. If you’re commuting in it regularly and don’t want the hassle of changing gears, then you know what to choose.

If you’re buying for rental purposes, take note that you’ll definitely get more enquiries through Camplify if you list a campervan with automatic transmission.

Manual-skilled drivers are in steady decline, unfortunately.


Pop-top, high-top or standard hardtop?

Pop-tops are obviously great for the extra headroom and convenience of being able to keep the storage height low. However, you should consider that pop-tops have more moving parts and can be expensive to fix, or replace, should something go wrong.

High-tops are great for the extra headroom and permanent internal storage option. However, you’ll need to avoid most vehicle height-restricted areas and more than likely store the van outdoors. And that means no more Maccas drive thru, pal.

Standard hardtops are great for the simplicity and ease of vehicle storage. However, the standard design obviously loses out with the reduced headroom aspect.


Which is the best make & model?

This is perhaps the holy grail of all questions when it comes to buying a campervan. In short, ‘best’ means different things to different people.

Our advice here is to get as much feedback from your friends, family members, your mechanic and as many online review type sites as you can. Use this feedback as a guide to help influence your decision.

Okay, okay — we’ll suggest some of the best brands.

But first, you need to understand that campervans come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

It’s up to you to decide which shape, size and brand best suits your needs.

Most campervans will be fitted out using one of the following stock setups.

When you've found one you think looks right for you, we recommend doing a Google search using each make and model, followed by “campervan”. 

For example:



 

Make sense? Of course it does!


BEST campervan makes and models (smallest to largest)

 


Best mini campervan makes & models:



 


Best small campervan makes & models:



 

 


Best mid-sized (Short Wheelbase) campervan makes & models:



 


Best larger-sized (Long Wheelbase) campervan makes & models:



 


Best extra-large (SLWB and above) sized campervan makes & models:




Figuring out your BUDGET



Here comes the sad part…

Campervans cost money.

Money to buy, money to run and money to modify.

In our opinion, there isn’t much point delving too deep into the granular costs of owning a campervan.

Use your common sense to identify and consider the common costs associated with owning any vehicle. While repairs and other hurdles are hard to predict, try to factor them in your budget, too.

Here’s a head start of things to factor into your campervan budget:

  • Purchase price
  • Insurance costs
  • Servicing costs
  • Estimated repair costs
  • Roadside Assistance costs
  • Camping equipment costs
  • Depreciation & estimated resale value
  • Potential return from rental income
  • Interest repayments (if financed)

INSPECTING the campervan



As aforementioned, it’s always best to ask a professional mechanic to inspect a used campervan.

Think of it in this way; a mechanic doesn’t care if you end up buying the campervan or not — they just want to get paid and maintain their trust reputation in the process.

This puts you in good stead to receive a neutral, objective and fully-qualified analysis of the van’s mechanical health.

Too many buyers these days become bamboozled by fancy slide-out drawers and pretty bunting hanging from the ceiling like their favourite #VanLife travel blogger.

It’s no good having all of these cosmetic ‘luxuries’ if you can’t get the thing from A to B, right?

Here’s what you, or a fully-qualified mechanic, should look out for:


The Engine



When you’re buying a second-hand campervan, engine reliability is no doubt one of, if not the most, important thing to consider before splashing your cash.

It would be a real pity to buy a campervan with a ‘fully sick’ fit out only to find that the engine has blown up 3 months later and the vehicle is now useless, huh.

Furthermore, most campervan fitouts are made custom to the van layout, so it’s not always as simple as removing the fitout and putting it in another van if the engine dies.

So, how do you avoid the dreaded disaster of buying a ‘lemon’ engine?

A large proportion of van engines live under the front seat, meaning that many often go unchecked for longer than needed.

Be on the lookout for leaking hoses, radiators and water pumps — otherwise you could be in for something nasty and expensive to repair, like a cracked head, blown head gasket and other serious overheating-related issues.

One common rule of thumb is to start the engine and let it idle. If the idle doesn’t sound or feel fairly smooth, conduct a more detailed inspection.

If you don’t have a great deal of experience with vehicles, or you don’t have an ‘uncle’ who is a mechanic, it is highly worth sorting advice from a professional mechanic near you. The peace of mind is definitely worth the small fee that they’d charge!

Remember, reason number one to buy any vehicle should be to get from A to B safely — every time. If it’s got a great engine, then you can worry about the fitout.  


Tyres

This is a no-brainer for any vehicle that you’re purchasing. Check the tyre tread and factor this into the price you’re willing to pay. Tyres aren’t cheap to replace! Inspect the tyres yourself and ask the owner when they last replaced the tyres.


Glass

Check around the van for small cracks and chips in the windows and windscreen. Small cracks turn into big cracks over time — and replacing glass is always more expensive than you think!


Lights

Check all brake lights, blinkers, headlights, internal lights and even dashboard lights to make sure they’re working properly.

Whilst checking the dash, observe whether there are any flashing lights as this may indicate internal complications.


Air-conditioning

If you’re new to travelling Australia in a campervan, you’ll soon discover that air-conditioning is a god-send.

Do yourself a favour and make sure the air-con works for both heating and cooling. If it doesn’t seem to function very well during your test drive, factor this into your negotiation.

A typical air-con costs around $150 to re-gas, and potentially hundreds more to replace completely.


Oil leaks

If you return following your test drive and find that there is an oil patch left on the ground, investigate this immediately.

A common rule of thumb is to inspect the oil for a dark, milky consistency and sometimes even a burnt smell. This can often indicate poor engine health.


Brakes

Brakes are definitely an important thing to consider — especially when it comes to safety. Ask the owner for proof that the brakes have been replaced recently, or do your research to find out when they’re likely to next need replacing.

Remember: campervans are much heavier than normal cars, which means that the brakes will generally wear out quicker under heavier brake load. A full brake kit, including installation, can cost upwards of $1000 depending on the make and model of the van.


Suspension

Suspension is fairly straightforward. Take the campervan for a test drive so you can listen and feel for any unusual clunks when you go over bumps.


Bodywork

Rust... Everybody dreads it — and so they should. Make sure you inspect the van thoroughly for signs of rust (especially pop-tops!) in common rust areas, like: window seals, door seals, under the floor, on the roof, in the tailgate and so on.

If you see areas that look like they’ve been bogged up, ask the owner why they’ve bogged it up, with the suspicion that it could have been due to rust.

Another thing to consider here is where the van has been stored for the majority of its life. Be careful of vans that have spent a lot of time sitting at or near the beach, because salt water can be very damaging.

Ideally, you’ll be looking at a van that has been stored undercover and has no signs of rust.


Vehicle history

Pay close attention to the campervan's owner history and logbook.

A well-maintained van owned by a cautious pensioner is a far better bet than an ex-rental or ex-backpacker van that has been thrashed from timbuktu and back again.


The campervan fitout



This brings us to the fitout aspect — the point at which so many used campervan buyers all of a sudden get tunnel vision.

Campervans are so great because they’re essentially a ‘house on wheels’, right? So, would you think twice about buying that ‘nice looking’ house that has leaking plumbing, dodgy electrical work, broken door handles and so on? Of course you would, so do the same with a campervan.

As mentioned earlier in the article, the engine is probably the most important aspect to consider when buying a used van.

Having said that, you’re also definitely not going to have a great experience when you pull up to the campsite only to find that the fridge keeps cutting out or the gas stove won’t start up.

All of these seemingly minor things should factor into the price you pay for the van in the first place, because you can easily end up spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars repairing frustrating problems with the fit out itself. 


How to BUY a campervan

Alright, you know why you’re buying a campervan, you know how you plan to use it and you know what you need to buy. Next up: how you can buy one.

First thing is first — should you buy privately, through a dealer or through an auction?


Buying privately:



If you’re mechanically savvy, or have someone close to you that is, you can pick up a true bargain campervan via private sale. Here are some quick tips for buying privately:

  • Suss out the seller — and always view the campervan at the seller’s house, if you can. Check the address on the rego papers / logbook to make sure it matches the address.
  • Keep a copy of the original advertisement. It is illegal to falsely describe a vehicle for sale. If you later find out that the seller’s ad speaks a lie, approach the seller and/or your local police department.
  • Bring a friend to view the van. Four eyes are better than two when it comes to spotting faults — and noticing the positives. As the buyer, having a friend in attendance will also help to keep you well-grounded and realistic.
  • Double-check the logbook. Make sure it matches up with the VIN number and, most importantly, make sure it has been serviced regularly.
  • Check the vehicle’s history. These days, you can get a quick Revscheck on any used vehicle. For a small fee, Revscheck will generate you a certificate that proves the vehicle’s history. If it proves that the campervan has finance still owing, or it has been written off in the past, it’s usually best to steer clear.
  • Get the campervan inspected by a professional mechanic. The $50 or so that you spend on hiring a mechanic for half an hour is well worth the peace of mind. RedBook is a good place to start your search for a mobile mechanic.
  • Go over everything with a fine-tooth comb. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many things you won’t notice until you’ve bought the campervan. Be careful not to be over-excited with fancy features during the inspection — you could miss a crucial problem.
  • Get a written receipt. If you do decide to buy privately, it’s always a good idea to get a receipt of purchase — just in case you need to prove it to authorities.

Buying from a dealer:



There are hundreds of RV dealerships in Australia that offer a selection of new and used campervans.


Some typical reasons to buy a campervan from a dealership:

  • Lots of choice in the one place
  • Many dealerships offer warranty
  • Most dealers can arrange competitive finance
  • Many dealerships will welcome trade-ins
  • Dealerships rely heavily on reputation, which means that they are less likely to sell you a ‘lemon’
  • Dealerships have in-house mechanics that should have already inspected the campervan
  • Comfort in knowing that there is no finance owing on the van

Some typical reasons not to buy a campervan from a dealership:

  • It’s usually a lot more expensive
  • You’re up against a professional salesperson that is an expert in negotiation
  • Dealerships have sales targets and profit margins to be concerned with
  • You don’t get to meet the previous owner
If you do decide that it’s best to buy your campervan from a dealer, consider these tips:

  • Visit as many dealerships as possible. This will give you a good gauge for which is the best value and which salesman seems to know the most.
  • Negotiate with the salesman by revealing cheaper comparisons at opposition dealerships. See if they can match, beat — or at the very least justify that cheaper price.
  • Ask for options of extended warranty. If the salesman hesitates with warranty, alarm bells should start ringing slightly. Are they confident that the campervan is reliable enough?
  • Ask about the previous owner(s). How old were they? Where did they live? Where did they travel in the van? Etc.

Buying a campervan online:



In this day and age, the Internet is usually the first port of call for used campervan buyers.

With classified platforms such as Gumtree, Carsales, Caravan & Camping Sales and Facebook Marketplace, it’s easier than ever to connect with someone selling a campervan.

Not to mention the ever-present online auction sites such as eBay, Graysonline, Pickles  and so on.

While the online choice seems endless, there are no doubt some things you should watch out for — especially when it comes to the auction sites.


Tips for buying at an online auction:

  • Understand that real-life is always better. Photos tell a thousand words, but you need more than a thousand words to know exactly what you're getting— you need a full length report! There is no other way to get this than by having the campervan inspected by someone you trust, in physical form. 
  • For private auction sites like eBay, try to arrange an inspection with the seller prior to bidding. You can easily communicate with the seller through the system. If they deny an inspection, that’s an immediate indication that you probably shouldn’t bid.
  • Always save a copy of the advertisement. Again, it’s illegal to falsely advertise. Have proof in case the time comes where you need to protect yourself.
  • Understand that you are bidding to buy, not to have a test drive. Once you’ve made a bid, you’ve got every chance of becoming an owner and there is no backing out within the last 24hrs of the auction.
  • Don’t get caught up in a bidding war. Set your price and stick to it. If you do miss out, don’t worry — there are plenty of campervans for sale and you’ll find your perfect one eventually.
  • Pay with a secure payment system, such as Paypal. This helps protect the risk of scammers.

Buying a campervan at an offline auction



Auctions offer campervan buyers a chance to find a bargain indeed, but like everything, there is a downside. Most campervans that are up for auction are so because they’re generally in an ‘unsellable’ or hard-to-sell state (condition).  

However, if you’re lucky, you could very well end up with a bargain campervan simply because the owner wants to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Here’s some advice for buying at an auction:

  • Search hard for the vehicle(s) you want. Scour the holdings and find yourself at least one vehicle that suits your needs and estimated budget.
  • Check the details thoroughly. Key information is usually listed on the windscreen. Is there anything that immediately attracts your attention? Pay close attention to key aspects such as kilometres, age, transmission, logbook, fuel type, number of owners etc.
  • Use your smartphone to research the same campervan online. What are people selling the same type of campervan for privately? This will give you a decent gauge of how much to bid. Furthermore, it’s wise to research the estimated costs of upcoming servicing and scheduled maintenance. If it’s due to have the timing belt changed in the next month, factor this into your bid price.
  • Wait near the vehicle so you can hear the engine start when it goes to auction. This may be your only chance to observe the quality of the engine before you make a bid. Be on the lookout for smoke and any unusual sounds.
  • Don’t forget about the extra fees! Most auctions have a fee on top of the sale price, so make sure you factor this into your bidding price.

Negotiating



Negotiation is a key part of buying a used campervan. Consider these tips during your time to tango:

  • Budget. The first and most important thing to do is decide what you’re willing to spend. What’s the highest price you’re willing to pay?
  • Use any perceived problems as leverage to negotiate a lower price. Even if you don’t even care about a small ding in the door, use it to your advantage and explain the added cost of fixing it should you buy the van.
  • Don’t act too excited about the campervan. Act as if you’re not overly interested so the seller is more inclined to lower the price. If you act super keen initially, the seller may notice this and won’t likely accept a lower price.
  • Ask the seller why they’re selling it. The reason for sale can be used to guide your initial offer. For example, if the owner is moving overseas, they’re probably more likely to accept a lower offer just so they can get rid of it in time. Use this to your advantage.
  • Be prepared with a few counter-offers. Offer your bottom price first and then slowly work your way up to the higher price. It’s unlikely that the seller will accept your first offer, so always be prepared for a quick counter of a few hundred more.
  • Be firm with your offers, but have plenty of understanding and respect for the seller’s circumstances.

BONUS advice! 

Thanks for scrolling this far. Who ever knew there was this much to consider before buying a used campervan?

Lucky you’ve made it this far, because otherwise you’d miss out on perhaps our best campervan buying tip yet!


Try a campervan before you buy one!



Imagine being able to test out the vanlife before splashing your hard-earned cashed on the full commitment? No dealership or a private seller is willing to let you try their campervan for a few days before handing over the money. You’ve just got to jump on in and just hope that the campervan life is for you, right?...Wrong.

  • Camplify lets you hire privately owned campervans in a peer-to-peer sharing environment.
  • Following a similar concept to Airbnb, Camplify lets campervan owners hire out their van to nearby holiday-makers.
  • Every hire is fully insured and comes with nationwide roadside assistance.
  • With over 1500 RVs around Australia, Camplify is the perfect opportunity for prospective campervan buyers to try a van before they buy a van.
  • Furthermore, you get to chat to an expert campervan owner in the process — very valuable if you’re considering buying a similar van.

Interested? Check out these examples of campervans you can hire on Camplify:

 















 

Not quite what you're after?

Don't worry — there's literally thousands of other privately-owned RVs available to hire on Camplify! 

 

 

 


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Interested? Learn more about Camplify HERE


 Do you own an RV? Interested in learning how Camplify can help you turn your caravan, camper or motorhome into $5000 - $35,000 per year? Learn more about how Camplify works for owners here


To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV, register today here.

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