View Full Version : Things I should have done but didn't, buying a second hand van...

15-06-2012, 05:53
I've had the Hymer for about seven weeks now and discovered a few things along the way, so I thought it might be worth passing on my experiences for the benefit of anyone looking at buying an older van second hand privately.

1/ Make sure you get shown that everything is working, including the heating run up to full temperature even if it's a hot day. We didn't and it's been a pain sorting it out. Run all the taps, switch on all the lights, check the condition of both engine starting and habitation batteries. If the vehicle has electrical hook up provision, ask the owner to plug it in and check that the 13 amp sockets are working.

2/ Get a damp meter, Maplins do one for about 40 and it's well worth it. Check for damp everywhere, as damp is difficult to treat once it's taken hold. Damp meters are easy to use and if the owner objects he's hiding something so walk away. It's also worth checking if a strong air freshener is in the van as it could be hiding damp smells.

3/ Look for any signs of bodging. On our van I accepted the explanation that the owner had removed the shower because it used too much water. He hadn't, the taps fitted are non standard.

4/ Use a magnet on the base vehicle body, it will fall off if extensively filled. I bought ours with three months MOT as it had only done 700 miles since the last one. It failed, but only on a couple of light bulbs and some welding which needed doing at a cost of 100, so taking a chance paid off.

5/ Check whether you can get parts easily, as you will be dealing with an obsolete base vehicle.

6/ Get on the roof and check the vents. I didn't and have only just discovered that all three vents need replacing due to long term exposure to sunlight, although they are OK at present.

No matter how nice the owner seems, don't trust them as they are trying to sell their van for a reason, so make sure that you get to drive the vehicle yourself, not sitting alongside them, making sure the engine reaches it's operating temperature without overheating. If you can afford it, get the vehicle checked by a qualifed caravan or motorhome company, but if not the previous part of this post might help to avoid expensive mistakes.
Cheers, John

15-06-2012, 15:25
It isn't always a deliberate attempt to conceal, sometimes people don't know the problems are there.

Mine came from a caravan dealer off e-bay, it had not been used for a while & he did a domestic service & confirmed everything was OK, but he also jet washed it & we discovered a leak next time it rained cos they had blasted the sealant off the Status aerial. Easily fixed fortunately & the van was otherwise in good order, altho we had to replace the domestic battery.

It takes a very long time to thoroughly check everything - if the price is good, allowing for probable costs to sort out the odd issues, then I would focus on checking the important/ costly items - like untreated damp. But all 3 of my vans have been bought at bargain prices & turned out to be great value, so maybe I'm relying on my luck a bit.

Showers? I doubt I will ever use mine, on a site I will use theirs & off site I wouldn't waste the water - but it does make the bog far less claustrophobic.

15-06-2012, 15:42
Good words indeed from a fellow motorhomer. I have a 1983 CF and it requires a bit of work and time spent on it :hammer:during its 6 month resting period through the winter.

The only thing that can be an advantage is that it does at least test us to see if motorhoming really is still gives us a buzz and doing the jobs on it tends to gear us up for the next season.

So the upside to your situation is that it's not all bad news. :dance:

There is also a little bit of self satisfaction to go out for the first time of the season after all the hard work of the winter. So next year if you still have the same one, just think of the satsifaction you will have when you go out in it. Something which people with new motorhomes can't appreciate...
(still, I wish I had a new one with no problems, I could hapily miss the self satisfaction for a few years.) :drive: