100 point check list

100 things you should check when viewing a caravan

100 point check listI see it all the time. People go to view a caravan (normally privately) full of excitement and high expectations and this tends to blind them from some of the things they should be checking for. Checking these things could potentially save you money and even prevent an accident or injury at a later date.

How can you avoid making the same mistake? This 100 point check list is all you need to thoroughly inspect a caravan from top to toe:

External body work

1. Check the front and rear panels for any hairline cracks, pay particular attention to the point where the panel joins the side panel
2. Check the body work dents
3. Check the paint work for any chips
4. Look at the panels from different angles and different light as you should be able to spot any repairs that have been made
5. Look for any holes in the panels of the caravan – some may be difficult to spot but untreated aluminium can fall victim to tin worm
6. Check for any out of place stickers or graphics on the caravan’s body work – this could be a sign of hidden damage

Windows and lockers

7. Check all windows for scratches
8. Check all windows for cracks
9. Check all windows for condensation
10. Open windows and ensure they have not swollen (also know as blown)
12. Check the window seals are not perished or split (common cause of water ingress)
13. Check there are no cracks in the surrounds of the external locker boxes
14. Check all the locker door locks have barrels
15. Ask the seller to show you inside all lockers and check hinges are intact
16. Use your nose as a guide inside the lockers for any suspicious smells
17. Check the seals of the locker doors are not perished or split

Wheels and tyres

18. Check the tyres are in date (don’t forget the spare)
19. Check the tyres for any cracks – you should not be able to see cord
20. Check the tyres for any bulges
21. Check tread on tyres
22. Check the wheels are the same (different wheels can be seriously dangerous whilst towing)
23. Check the tyres are for caravans and not car tyres

Chassis and A frame

24. Look under the caravan and check for any rust on the chassis (most modern caravan chassis’ are made from galvanized steel)
25. Check for any splits in the A frame cover
26. With your knee, put pressure on the very end of the hitch head – the damper should compress (this applies the brakes when you brake in your car)
27. Check the gaiter around the damper is not split or damaged (can allow grit and dirt to get into the mechanism)
28. Does the caravan have a breakaway cable? If so, is it frayed or damaged in any way? (Now a legal requirement to have one)
29. Check the hitch head mechanism operates correctly
30. Check the jockey wheel bar is not bent
31. Check the jockey wheel can be wound up and down
32. Check the tyre on the jockey wheel is in good order

External lights and electrics

33. Check the brake lights work
34. Check the road lights and side lights work
35. Check the indicators work
36. Check the reverse light/s work
37. Check the light clusters are not cracked or incomplete
38. Check the light clusters are not full of water
39. Check the light clusters are not condensated
40. Check the 12N and 12S socket pins are present and not bent
41. Check the 12N and 12S sockets are not corroded
42. Check the cables of the 12N and 12S sockets are not exposing any wires
43. Inside the battery box ensure the battery terminals are not corroded

Internal damp check

Note: to carry out thorough damp check it is advisable to invest in a damp meter

44. Use your nose to detect any damp, rotten or mouldy smells
45. Be aware of any overpowering pleasant aromas as these may be covering bad smells (like damp or smoke)
46. Perform visual checks under each window and look for any water stains
47. If you have a damp meter use it to get readings from under all the windows and any other places where there is an external joining of panels (readings under 20% are acceptable)
48. Look under all bed boxes for any signs of black mould

For a video on how to perform a damp test click here.

Floor, carpets and upholstery

49. Pull up any loose fit carpets, mats or cardboard and walk from one end the caravan to the other – you are looking for any spongy areas
50. Check the carpet for stains
51. Check the carpet for plucks and tears
52. Check the upholstery for stains
53. Check the upholstery for tears
54. Check the upholstery for any flat spots
55. Check the upholstery for wear

Fridge and freezer

56. Ask the seller to demonstrate the fridge and freezer working
57. Check all shelves in fridge are present
58. Check for cleanliness and smells in the fridge
59. Check the fridge seals correctly
60. Check the control panel or buttons for the fridge and freezer are functional
61. Check for any damage to the fridge and freezer doors

Oven, grill and hob

62. Ask the seller to demonstrate the oven, grill and hob working
63. Check the grill pan and handle are present (expensive and difficult to replace)
64. Check oven shelf is present
65. Check there is no damage to front of oven
66. Check cover for hobs is not cracked or broken

Water heater and caravan heating

67. Ask seller to demonstrate the heating working
68. Ask the seller to demonstrate the water heater working
69. Check for any rattles or strange noises when water heater and heater are operational
70. Check for any damage to the heater
71. Inspect the water heater closely while running and look for any leaks or cracks in the unit itself
72. Check water pump is present (£50 odd to replace)

Taps and showers

73. Turn on all taps and check for leaks
74. Turn on shower and check for leaks
75. Inspect shower heads and taps for cracks or swelling
76. Check sinks for cracks
77. Check shower trays for cracks

Internal lights and electrics

78. Ask seller to hook caravan up to mains
79. Ask seller to turn 12V power on
80. Plug in a couple of 240V appliances and check it does not trip the power
81. Check main control panel has no warning lights or errors
82. Check fuses in the main power unit are all okay
83. Check for any damage to main power unit
84. Check any LED displays on the main control panel are functional
85. Check all buttons on the main control panel are functional
86. Check the battery charger unit is operational
87. Be aware of any burning smells while battery charger is operational
88. Check all lights work (some are individually switched)
89. Check lights lenses are present

Worksurfaces and furniture

90. Check for any holes in the worksurfaces
91. Check for any scratches in the worksurfaces
92. Check for any damage to locker doors
93. Check for delamination of the covering on the wooden furniture
94. Check locker catches are all operational
95. Check all lockers and doors close correctly

Miscellaneous and other

96. Ask seller to demonstrate any alarm systems
97. Check to ensure that if the alarm requires key fobs they are present and working
98. Check rooflights for any cracks or splits
99. Ensure rooflight seals are not perished or split
100. Ask seller to demonstrate any further fitted extras to prove their functionality

And there we have it! A comprehensive check list of things to check when you are viewing a caravan to avoid expensive and potentially dangerous surprises in the future.

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I hope you have found this list valuable, please share it with your friends and colleagues if you think it is something that may help them too!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, do you have any checks of your own to add that were not on the list?

Speak to you soon,

Josh

34 thoughts on “100 things you should check when viewing a caravan”

  1. Excellent and thanks very much! I’m selling the house and thinking of buying a Compass Rallye 644 o r Elddis Crusader Cyclone 645 to live in here in NZ. if you know of any particular bad points in these models to look out for , i would like to know.

    1. Glad to help.

      Both lovely vans. Around 2006 there were some damp issues with the Compass so do be cautious if buying around that age. Good luck with the house sale!

      Josh

  2. Barrie Welham-Jones

    Many Thanks for your helpful articles on checking out damp and the 100 point check list. I have found that most of damp damage seems to originate when caravans are built using staples which rust easily and thus cause water ingress. I am surprised that the industry is allowed to use self destruct materials such as these. Thanks again for the help.

    Barrie

    1. Hi Barrie, thanks for your comment, just pleased I can help!

      Water ingress is most certainly a caravan manufacturers biggest challenge, it is not one I would want to attempt to tackle, after all, the body is moving and flexing all the time. I am pleased to see 10 year water ingress warranties with many of the brands, it shows that they have confidence in their products.

      Josh

    1. Haha Nick, I know it looks daunting doesn’t it. But buying a caravan is very much like buying a car, knowing what to look out for when viewing can save you considerable money or save you from buying trouble all together. Most things on he list are a quick glance.

      Don’t let it put you off, caravanning is well worth it! All the same, camping is great too!

      Josh

    1. Hi Wesley,

      I am guessing it will be around 2004-2005 model? If so, Avondale caravans were pretty solid then. I don’t know of any particular problems that model suffered from. With that being said, still make sure you do a thorough damp test (I recorded a video demoing how to carry out a damp test here).

      It’s a lovely caravan. I hope it serves you well and you enjoy it!

      Let me know how you get on with it!

      Josh

      1. Josh thanks for your best wishes and sound advice its nice to see some one giving there time with out asking for a credit card number
        i told the dealer id be there Saturday to test the van he said he would put the heating on an hour before i got there would this affect the moister test in his favor ,also on a moister meter do i set it too wood for the test

        1. My pleasure Wesley, just glad to help!

          Having the heating on will not have any impact on the damp readings, if there is moisture in the wood it will still pick it up. If you have type of moisture meter that has different settings then “wood” is the ideal one.

          You should be pretty safe with a dealer, they are obliged to offer a warranty with the caravan and so it shouldn’t be damp when you buy it from them. But best to do your own checks all the same.

          Good luck!

          Josh

  3. Nick Wynn-Williams

    Hi josh. Just completed our 1st trip in our ”97 Swift Challenger 400 SE. All systems worked perfectly except for 2 out of 3 strip lights & the cassette player. I rate that as a result. Things we’ll do different & better next time. Tent up for sale tomorrow! Thanks for your input/advice. It really did help. Cheers, Nick.

    1. Hi Nick!

      Agreed! That is indeed a result. Glad you decided to ditch the tent after all 😉

      I’m really pleased to know that the website has helped you out, it makes it all the more worth while for me and always spurs me on to continue writing so thanks very much for your comments.

      Where did you take your caravan on its first trip? Always interested to hear about nice sites to recommend to people.

      Josh

  4. Hi, thinking of buying a 2002 sterling emerald Eccles, anything to watch out for as this is my first caravan purchase,
    I have seen your damp test and have a copy of the 100 checklist too
    Cheers steve

    1. Hi Stephen.

      First of all welcome to the world of caravans! I’m sure you’ll have a great time.

      The Emerald (4 berth with dedicated end washroom I think?) is a nice caravan. I don’t know of anything in particular that was wrong with these caravans. Just be sure to check for damp as always and make use of the 100 check list.

      Good luck!

      Josh

      1. Yeah that’s the one 🙂
        I have downloaded your buying guide lots of great info on there too thank you very much 🙂
        Like a car.. If the caravan has no service history should I walk away?

        Steve

        1. Fantastic! Glad you found it useful!

          I wouldn’t necessarily say walk away if it has no service history, just be vigilant with your checks. I would however expect it to reflect on the price or at least leave it open for negotiation.

          You could always ask about previous services, if they have had some services doe but doesnt have paperwork to back it up you could find out who serviced it and contact them to see if they have a record of the service.

          Josh

  5. Hi I am buying a 2005 fleetwood heretage 640eb with fixed bunks – any thing I need to be aware of ?
    Than. You

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Nothing comes to mind with an 05 Fleetwood, they were lovely vans, particularly the Heritage. Just be sure to carry out all the normal checks for damp etc.

      Josh

  6. Pingback: 20 Caravanners speak out: "What I wish I knew before buying my first caravan" | How 2 Caravan

  7. Hi Josh,

    Great checklist! Thanks for taking the time and effort to share your experience and knowledge.

    Question about using a damp meter on wall boards. How hard should you press? I heave read that you need to break the surface on order to get a proper reading. If this is so, how far into the board should one press? I expect this should be done in unseen areas, such as under beds, in lockers and under window rubbers?

    What about checking the floor? Again, should one puncture the surface to get a reading?

    Grew up in a caravaning family and taking the leap from tents to caravans… Viewing an Elddis Shamal XL 2000 this coming weekend…hope it’s ‘the one’ !

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Ste,

      Thanks! I’m just glad to help.

      Let me be the first to welcome you back to caravanning!

      Yes, when you use the damp meter on the wallboard you need to slightly penetrate the surface. The best way to know how hard to push is to judge by the readings, anything really low like 1-2% is unrealistic. You should expect 8%+. You should only need to pierce the surface. As you said, try and do it where the holes won’t be seen.

      When testing the floor you should stay under the bed boxes. Don’t mistake a delaminated floor for damp (spongy floor), this is just where the floor has seen too much traffic and the wood is separating.

      Good luck with the Elddis – I hope everything is okay with it and its what you’re looking for!

      Josh

  8. Hi. I have been looking at a 2 berth Swift Challenger 400 se caravan today then I saw your 100 point check list and damp test . Must take a copy with me as I am going back on Friday to have another look but is there anything else I should be aware of , Its a 1994 model. My partner and I may convert from camping to caravaning but are complete novices in buying caravans, HELP!!

    1. Hi Maria.

      Thanks for stopping by. I would say the main thing to look out for in a 1994 would be the damp – if you haven’t already pick up a damp meter so that you can test all the main points that I mentioned in my video.

      Pay close attention to the floor too, caravans of this age can suffer from a delaminated floor.

      Good luck – I hope all is well with it!

      Josh

  9. Hi Josh’

    Can you help me please , I have an Avondale banico caravan it’s a beautiful carvan and all was going well , I about a year ago the side wall was coming away from the floor and the front wall also , we sent it in to be repaired and every thing was fine up to now

    BUT WE HAVE NOW NOTICED A CRACK ON THE INSIDE front wall close to the floor inside a storage press so I took of the front panel to investigate and it appears that the front wall is cracking. Just over the front v part of the chassis

    If the caravan is on it steadys and the jockeys wheel is down the gap in the wall is closed if it’s up the gap is back its like the caravan can’t take the weight of the hitch section

    The floor seems to be still bolted to the bottom timber of the wall but the stables above have given way but they’d hardy be expected to hold every thing in place

    When I look under the caravan as I wind the jockeys wheel I can see small movement in the chassis could this be causing the wall to drop
    have you ever heard of problems like this on an Avondale caravan

  10. Hi Josh,
    So pleased I’ve found your YouTube clips I’ve learnt so much already and I don’t even own a caravan yet!!
    We’ve narrowed down our choice to a 2berth Coachman Amara 450, the layout has a lot going for it over the other 2 berths we’ve looked at.
    This is our first caravan , the great British weather has finally finished off our love of camping, we intend at least one weekend a month ( adult children still at home, so this is our bolt hole) then a week at Easter, summer and October, can’t wait to go to all the places we’ve wanted to go to but haven’t been able to camp at cos of the weather.
    We’re off on Friday to view a 2009 coachman armed with a damp meter and your checklist just wondered your thoughts on the model and make and anything we should look for structurally, thank you for your info.

  11. Al & Maria Middleton

    Hi Josh
    We bought our second caravan today, a bit of an upgrade from our old but much loved Lunar Jupiter. We’ve found a Bailly senator which hasn’t been emigrated to Australia.
    I found your web site and have spent the last two hours looking through your previous posts and articles, absolutely brilliant, namely your 100 point checklist for viewing, (luckily I did remember most of them) And your pre flight checklist which will be printed off, laminated and stuck somewhere prominant!!
    Cheers
    Al & Maria

  12. Hi Josh,

    Noticed your comments earlier in the page with respect to problems with damp with Compass caravans around 2006.
    I’m just in the process of buying a Compass Omega 482 2006 model .
    Is there anything I should specifically look out for in the light of your comments.

    Thanks
    Steve

  13. Hi Josh ,
    I/we are thinking of getting back into caravaning and have found your comments very helpful.
    As I said we are going back to caravaning after about eight years, but this time round are lucky enough to be able to buy new, our last family van was a Avondale Landranger twin axle, I found the twin axle very steady and safe in all road conditions/type. So again we are looking at twin axles!
    I hope this may help your readers.
    P.S. As a must do for buying second hand , always check CRiS registration documents against owner details and van details!

  14. Hi We have looked at a caravan today that is 10 years old and was a swift challenger 2 berth we spotted some pealed paper by a window but seemed dry to touch and also had some silicone that had been applied to the roof area in the lounge it looked cosmetic but wonder if we should be cautious of this van.? Many thanks Julie

  15. christina eyers-young

    This is fantastic Josh, thank you. We are off to look at a 2007 Compass Corona 362 tomorrow as a first caravan. This list will be coming with us…thank you again.

    Christina

  16. Hi Josh, Thanks for the pointers, I was just wondering why you haven’t put on your list checking windows for year of manufacture, I’ve seen some dodgy dealers selling caravans that are older than stated in their advertising , this is a ‘must check ‘ for me now.

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