Buying a caravan is a big investment and buyers need to do their “home-work” or risk being ripped off.

That’s the warning from the Caravan Council of Australia (CCA) which says it is a real concern that so many caravan manufacturers have gone out of business in recent times.

CCA’s manager Colin Young said far too many owners are running into major problems with their purchase that often ends in legal action against the dealer.  

“In the vast majority of cases, the highly-aggrieved owner wins, typically via a private settlement — but is still deeply out of pocket because of the expenses involved,” he said.

Mr Young said self-certification is the prime reason for the issues, with “Ratings & Masses” being the number one culprit. 

“Self-Certification” of caravans, unfortunately, does not provide potential-buyers with anywhere near the same degree of assurance of compliance or quality, compared with motor vehicles, where all compliance evidence is examined by Vehicle Safety Standards, before a new vehicle model is approved for marketing in Australia,” he said.

The Federal Government has identified a number of major short-comings in the caravan industry and is planning to introduce new, more-stringent regulations soon. 

In the meantime,  CCA has come up with a list of “hard-hitting questions” to ask suppliers before parting with their hard-earned money.

  • Is it professionally designed and of high-quality?
  • Is it fully-compliant?
  • Use a detailed check-list to ensure that everything is OK.
  • Does the Trailer (Compliance) Plate have 100 per cent complete and correct information on it?
  • Does the Manufacturer – along with the Dealer (Supplier) — enjoy a good reputation?

“One would hope that a professional dedicated manufacturer, or dealer would not object to answering any of the questions — knowing that some competitors might object,” he said.

“As nothing is confidential, they would welcome the opportunity to make a sale . . . realising that the buyer would be completely happy with both the product and the service, and would sleep well at night, knowing that the van was in top-notch condition and extremely unlikely to present any problems in the future.”

Mr Young recommends using the two-part Buyer-Assist Evaluation & Comparison — prepared by the CCA.

This will allow you to determine exactly what caravan you: Want / Need / Can afford, so that you don’t get talked in to buying something that does not ideally suit your desired travel plans — or is outside of your budget.

“If a Supplier is unable, or unwilling, to answer any question, a potential-buyer may well wish to ask why — and seriously consider if they feel comfortable doing business with them, and handing over a lot of money to them,” he said.

These important questions are in addition to having the supplier complete and sign the supplied Compliance and Pre-Delivery Checklists. 

For more details see the Caravan Council of Australia website here

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.