Motorhome vs Caravan: The data on getting mobile
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A motorhome or a caravan - which should you choose?
Most of us have at least one memory of being washed out during a camping trip. For some, that experience is enough to make them want to own a mobile home. Caravans and motorhomes offer heaps of benefits, the most obvious is the added protection from the elements when the weather turns bad. Before you decide, it's important to weigh up the pros and cons of each.
If you're serious about exploring New Zealand and you have enough time and money to make it worthwhile, a motorhome is the clear choice. Motorhomes are a great alternative to caravans for those who are less confident at towing. Buying new is ideal as it'll give you the latest safety features, such as anti-skid control. Remember, it's likely that you'll be driving on the main highways in your campervan, so you're going to be exposed to crosswinds.
Used motorhomes tend to be ex-rentals, so many have a higher mileage and there will be signs of wear and tear on the inside of the vehicle.
You can also look at privately sold motorhomes, which generally have a lower mileage and reduced wear, but these can be a lot tougher to come by. If you do buy a motorhome from a private seller, it's important to note that you'll have less consumer protection.
Caravans are generally less expensive than motorhomes, but you'll not only need a vehicle that can tow - you'll need one that can handle the weight of your chosen caravan.
Typically, vehicles can tow only about 750kg unbraked but it's not a one-size-fits-all situation. Don't make the mistake of buying a caravan without checking if your current vehicle is equipped to pull its weight, or you may have to upgrade to something bigger in order to put your latest purchase to good use. And, if your vehicle requires brakes to be fitted to your caravan to help with slowing down, make sure you check this before you hand over your cash.
Caravans are more suited for occasional use and tend to require less ongoing maintenance than a motorhome. They have a simple substructure that's much like a trailer, so you can park it up for a long period of time without incurring any significant deterioration of its mechanical or electronic components. If you're a creative thinker, you could even turn a parked caravan into a place for guests to stay or a playroom for the kids.
Do all the usual checks that you would do when you are buying a car, such as mechanical inspections and history checks to ensure there are no potential issues, or any outstanding finances owing on the vehicle.
In addition, check areas of risk such as the roof, making sure it's water-tight, and keep an eye out for any signs of rot and water in the interior cabin. Also inspect the underbody for rust and corrosion as these vehicles will usually spend a lot of their time in coastal areas. Lastly, check that the electrical and gas certificates are up to date.
Before you invest your money, always get any new purchase checked carefully by a professional to avoid losing money.