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Buying a used motorhome or campervan

Searching for a used motorhome or campervan? Here’s what you need to know to make a savvy second-hand purchase from a dealer, auction or private sale.
By · April 9, 2024
Buying a used motorhome or campervan

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While motorhomes and campervans are popular choices when it comes to travelling around Australia, their convenience and comfort can come at quite a price. Unless of course, you make a savvy second-hand purchase from a trusted and reputable seller.

Buying a used motorhome can be an economical way to invest in your trip and avoid the depreciation that comes with a brand new vehicle.

However, there are a number of things to be mindful of when purchasing a preloved van or motorhome:

  • What a realistic budget is
  • Whether a private, auction or dealership sale is best for you
  • What to look for to check the condition (mechanically and aesthetically) of the vehicle

In this article we’re covering all of this and more.

Motorhome vs campervan - what’s the difference?

Before we dive into the ins and outs of buying a used motorhome or second hand campervan, let’s explain the difference between these two commonly confused vehicles.

A motorhome is a purpose-built home on wheels. It usually comes equipped with toilets, showers, kitchenette and more modern conveniences.

In contrast, a campervan is usually a van that has been converted for the purposes of sleeping, cooking, and driving.

Setting your budget

A good quality home on wheels could be your ticket to an epic Australian adventure.

But the question you need to ask is: What does a true Aussie experience look like for me?

Is it an option that includes all the extras? Consider what is essential to your comfort and pleasure on your trip: air conditioning, hot water, luxe finishings, a large bed.

Almost every add-on you can think of is available if you’re happy to pay for it.

Or, are your needs a little more basic? If four wheels and a place to rest your head is all you need to make the most out of your trip, your budget will be considerably less.

Some things to consider when setting your budget

  • How many people does the campervan or motorhome need to fit?
  • How much storage will you need?
  • What time of year are you planning on travelling? This may impact your choice around air cons, hot water etc.
  • What sort of distance will you cover? This is worth considering particularly when it comes to older vehicles with more kilometres on the clock. It’s also important to factor in fuel costs when setting your budget.
  • What are your non-negotiables? Air con, cooking facilities, storage etc

What is the average cost of a motorhome or campervan?

Second hand campervans range between $7,500 and $185,000 depending on the type of vehicle you need.

Used motorhomes range between $50,000 and $200,000 depending on the make, year and mileage.

The best ways to buy

As is the case with any vehicle, there are a number of different ways to buy a second hand camper or motorhome. The three primary ways are: private sale, auction or through a dealership.

Private sale

A private sale is often a much cheaper option than buying through a dealership. This is due to the fact that there aren’t any overheads or targets to meet. However, this method of buying is only recommended for the most knowledgeable and confident of buyers. Private sales do not come with any warranty meaning you want to be extra sure you’ve got a quality vehicle that matches what’s advertised.

It’s a good idea to take a witness with you if you’re entering into a private sale.

Buying through a dealership

This is generally the safest way to buy any kind of vehicle as it comes with a level of assurance and warranties. Unlike private sales, a dealer is also obliged to declare any issues with the van and an expected cost that will be incurred to repair them.

The added benefit of going through a dealer is that you can compare vehicles while you’re there to find a motorhome or campervan that best suits your budget and personal requirements.

Motor auction

In many cases, motor auctions offer the cheapest possible sales. However, inexperienced buyers should be aware of the following risks:

  • Some vehicles are on sale because they are actually unusable.
  • There is no opportunity to test drive.
  • There are often extra selling fees on top of your end price - be aware of that in your budgeting.
  • Bidding wars are a real thing.

Buyers checklist

Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to check the following to avoid expensive repairs in the future:

☐ No visible rust.

☐ Timing belt oldness (date and km).

☐ Tyres - condition, km and last changed date.

☐ Accidents?

☐ Mileage.

☐ Battery age (date).

☐ Liquids (cooling, oil, brakes).

☐ Check for leakages (around the engine or on the ground).

☐ Bodywork - check the hoses for visible cracks or rust.

☐ Check all the hinges on doors (interior and exterior).

☐ Start the engine and check the smoke colour. Take note of any unusual noises

or vibrations.

☐ Test out every button on the control panel.

☐ Do the lights work?

☐ Check for damp on the inside of the vehicle.

☐ Ensure fridges are in full working order.

☐ Test gas / water in the kitchen and bathroom (if applicable).

☐ Test the ventilation system (if applicable).

☐ Check that powerpoints all work.

☐ Try out the air conditioning.

Where possible, it’s highly recommended you have the campervan or motorhome checked over by a trained mechanic to avoid any possible issues down the track.

The last thing you want is a breakdown or worse once you’ve hit the open road.

Your new vehicle, delivered to your door

Whether you decide on a second hand campervan or used motorhome for your next adventure, the team from Upmove can help you get your vehicle delivered safely to your door.

With a network of movers servicing every city, town and rural community across Australia, we’ll connect you with the right movers, at the right price.

How it works

  • Post your car or campervan transport request.
  • We’ll match you up with the vehicle transportation teams who can reach both you and your destination.
  • Once you’ve compared your options and chosen the transport company for you, it’s just a matter of letting them know where you are and where you need to go.
  • Finally your vehicle will be moved by experts so you have peace of mind throughout the process.

Need to transport a motorhome in Australia?

Find and compare the best transport companies for motorhomes or campervans. We'll help you get an unbeatable price and a schedule that suits you.
9.8 · 958 reviews

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