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.

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,


Comments (33)
  1. NZ Morry August 3, 2013
    • Josh Garrod August 11, 2013
  2. Barrie Welham-Jones October 25, 2013
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  3. Nick Wynn-Williams November 25, 2013
    • Josh Garrod November 26, 2013
  4. Wesley March 19, 2014
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  5. Nick Wynn-Williams March 19, 2014
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  7. Lisa Barry April 15, 2014
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    • Josh Garrod October 28, 2015
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