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What to check before buying a caravan? - CampRest Buying Guide

With the decision of buying a caravan comes a lot of questions, such as what type of caravan to buy, and on what to focus in order to avoid one, which will need a lot of reparation before going on a dreamy holidays. If you are buying a new caravan it's much easier, the problem shows up only when it comes to the second-hand caravan. Below we provide a list of things-to-check before buying such caravan:


The first thing on which we should focus is how much our vehicle is able to pull. It's not only about the capacity and engine power (however it's important too) but mainly we have to focus on regulations and safety. You have to only check the positions Q1 and Q2 in the registration card, then you will know what weight cannot be exceeded, moreover you have to remember that Curb Weight of the vehicle cannot be lower than GVW of the caravan. Qualifications required to pull the caravans are described here.


  • No 1 PRIMO - check all the documents! It often happens that imported caravans don't have full documentation. That cause many problems with registration. It’s obvious that each Department of Communication has its own requirements regarding documents, so it’s best to check before you buy what exactly is required. Please note that VAT-25 from the Tax Office is not required to register no motor vehicle.



  • Check if there aren’t any signs of damage or repairs, bad repairs can have fatal consequences.
  • Check the seal of the windows, roof, vents and of the antenna output. You should also check the jointing if it’s not crushing (RV services have a specialized equipment to test the leak-tightness of the sheet)
  • Check if there is no rust, you can never be certain if the whole plating is made of aluminum. You should also check under the vehicle.
  • You should also check the roof. If it’s very dirty it can be a sign of a bad preservation during winter, which may cause leak-tightness damage.


  • Check the general condition of the chassis. If the caravan was placed on the grass, it’s floor may be decayed and that is connected with high costs of repairs
  • The frame should be galvanized, however, the areas which were repaired may begin to rust
  • Suspension and brakes - make sure that there are no leaks from the shock absorbers and that the brakes are working properly and evenly
  • Tires - tread should rather be OK, but check how old are the tires. Five years is the utmost safe age of the tire, check if the rubber doesn’t crack and if the same type of tires is on both sides
  • Props - check if props are working properly, if they aren’t bent or don’t rust
  • Shaft - check the condition of the shaft, it should be lubricated and hook easily, and after plugging it to the car there should be no backlash


  • If the interior of caravan smells stale you can almost be sure that something is leaking or the owner didn’t care about the vehicle.
  • You should check every nook and cranny, if there’s no mould, especially on the floor.
  • The general condition of the upholstery, hinges, locks, cabinets, doors and windows
  • The general condition of the vents, skylights and windows, and if everything’s working properly
  • Check if there’re no waterstains on walls, especially in the lower parts.
  • Check if the floor is dry and hard, if it bends while walking, it means that plywood may be decayed
  • It’s good to check the caravan after heavy rain – it’s the best opportunity to see if everything’s OK and if there’re no leakings.
  • You should check the area around windows, vents, skylights and antenna output – if there are no waterstains or if the plywood or laminate weren’t replaced. Touch the walls around it, its construction should be stiff.


  • Check if there’re no cracks in the shower (repair can be expensive)
  • Check the quality of the walls and shower joints sealing, as well as of the walls and washbasin joints sealing.
  • Check the condition of the walls as previously described checking the walls around the windows. If the construction isn’t stiff, it can be a sign of frame damage caused by leakage
  • Check the floor condition, if it isn’t puffed because of the leakage. The replacement of the bathroom floor is very expensive and time consuming. Everything must be dismantled, sealed and rebuilt.
  • Check if the toilet, water taps and drain are working properly,
  • Check the leak-tightness of the water pipes and look thoroughly if the place where drain pipe is going through the floor is properly sealed.


  • Check the quality of walls just as in case of the bathroom
  • Check if the water taps and drain pipes are working properly
  • Check the leak-tightness of the water pipes and look thoroughly if the place where drain pipe is going through the floor is properly sealed.
  • Check the fridge (in every power supply)
  • Check if the gas stove works properly and if the owner has go any documents confirming the leak-tightness
  • Check the floor condition, if it isn’t puffed because of the waterstains. The replacement of the kitchen floor is very expensive and time consuming. Everything must be dismantled, sealed and rebuilt.


  • Check the working condition of the boiler
  • Check the water pump
  • Check if all electrical devices work properly (interior and exterior lights, contacts, fans)
  • Check the heater, and if all vents work properly
  • Check if the air-conditioner works properly
  • Check the quality of the awning and of the threshold. And when it comes to the threshold - if the mounting hardware is complete
  • Ask for the demonstration of water tanks filling, wastewater disposal system and handling the chemical toilet



  • How many people will use the beds during travels
  • Fixed beds are the most comfortable and functional
  • Check if changing the seats to beds won’t be too time consuming, in the newer caravans it should be easy, while in older models - a little bit complicated.
  • If it comes to bunk-beds you should know that they have limited space and require a little exercise. They’re good rather for kids.


  • How often during travelling the kitchen will be used
  • Check if there’s enough compartments for dishes and food.
  • Will you need the oven?
  • In case you will often have a power supply of 230V a microwave should be a more practical solution.
  • Is the capacity of fridge and freezer appropriate?
  • Kitchen arrangement – If there’s easy access to the important places while cooking?

Interior colors

  • Bright colors lighten up small rooms, however it may seem a little bit cold during the winter,
  • Dark color scheme will make a room seem smaller , on the other hand the room will seem warmer during winter.
  • What kind of colors will be easier to keep clean.

Interior layout

  • Is there’s enough space to stand without tiring leaning?
  • Is the toilet easily accessible when, for example, some bed is unfolded?
  • Can two people easily pass by?
  • Aren’t there any sharp edges that can be harmful to children?
  • Are there enough compartments and shelves?
  • Is there enough place for all passengers to sit down together at the table?


  • Check if there’s enough compartments for towels and other necessary accessories
  • Is there enough space to freely use the washbasin, shower or toilet?
  • How is the ventilation system solved?
  • A convenient solution would be integrated toilet – a toilet which can be operated from outside

Size of the caravan

  • Number of people going on a caravan trip
  • Bigger size = Bigger weight (you need a stronger and heavier vehicle, and when the GVW of the vehicles exceeds 3.5 tonnes then we need driving license category B + E and viaTOLL
  • The longer caravan, the higher costs on ferries
  • A good solution in the caravans are the compartments accessible from the outside.

The Future

  • Do you plan to enlarge your family in the nearest future? If so, the caravan may be too small. And if, on the other hand, your kids are bigger, and plan individual trips, then a caravan may turn out a little too big.
  • Maybe in the nearest future you will go for a longer trip and you will need a better equipment
  • If you plan to stay outside the camping it’s worth to think about the equipment more adapted for independent travels (like solar batteries, generator).


  • Heating is very important
  • Boiler – hot water is rather OK
  • The porch – very useful during longer stay on a camping, but if you plan to change your place more often, rather choose the awning
  • Solar panels – useful, if you plan longer travels far from the civilisation.

Types of caravans

Caravanning is the perfect form of tourism for those, who value independence and like to wander in their own ways. Own car and a caravan adapted for relaxation, are the basic equipment for any traveler, for whom camping is the best form of rest. Caravanning means freedom and independence, but also economy. You don’t have to worry about the hotel room, because you have your own “apartment”. You only need to find a place which is designed for this kind of travelling.

Best caravans

Just visit first random campsite to see what is the most important in this form of turism. Fun and great relaxation is ensured only if you choose a good caravan. You can hear feverish discussions on the campsites about which caravans are the best.

Dutch caravans are in the lead. It shouldn’t be a surprise, since caravanning has gained the greatest popularity exactly in that country. Among other European countries which follow the fashion for caravanning are Germany and France.

Among the companies involved in the production of caravans, the best are Adria, Hymer, Hobby, Knaus and Cristall.

Today on the caravan market are mostly German and English companies. There’re only a few producers in Poland, the majority of companies import new and second hand caravans from other countries. One exception would be Niewiadów Caravan Factory, which strives to meet the expectations of Polish fans of caravanning. This producer has been launching the caravans, known for its solidity and convenience, for over 40 years.

How do caravans look like?

Caravans are no motor vehicles adapted to living, which are attached to the car with a special hook. When on the road they are towed, but while on the parking, they can be detached from a car. This has some advantages. When you stay on the campsite a little bit longer, you can freely use your car without the necessity to pull your caravan everywhere you go. This solution is not for the people who own campers, in which the living space is permanently attached to the driver’s cab. The downside of having a caravan is that you need appropriately strong car which will be able to pull this “home”, and you can’t stay in the caravan while driving. This is for the safety of every caravanning enthusiast.

Caravans may differ both in size and standard. A particularly important aspect of any caravan is its chassis, on whose durability depends the safety of the travelers. Another aspect which is very important when it comes to the comfort would be solid shock-absorbers.

When you stay on the campsites, it is very important to have a comfortable caravan. Solid and tight body, as well as the necessary equipment constitute the basis for good holidays. Any, even the smallest and simplest caravan, must have in its facilities a place to sleep and rest, a bathroom, a kitchenette and simple furniture which allows to securely store the necessary equipment and clothing. Thanks to this the caravan creates something, what people often call "small, mobile apartment".

Caravans and their types

Wide selection of caravans and their numerous kinds gives the enthusiasts of this form of tourism the ability to adjust them to their needs. But in order to choose well, we need to know the basic information about caravans.

Single axle

Caravans – image 1

Hobby Excellent 2013


Hobby Premium 2013


Hobby Premium 2013


Hobby Prestige 2013


Double axle caravans


Hobby Prestige 2012



Hymer Nova S



Hymer Nova S


Hymer Nova S


Hymer Nova S


Static caravans are most commonly found in campsites around the world. Their construction is stiff, and most of all resemble "homes on wheels". The size of such caravan is fixed, so before you decide on one you have to know how many people will use it. Static caravans can be small, which is perfect for a couple. There are also caravans which can accommodate whole family. The largest structures can provide up to 20 square meters of living space, while their length is usually less than 5 meters. The largest static caravans are pretty problematic. First of all, the engine of the towing vehicle should have appropriate power, and in the case of the largest caravans you may need a driving license category B + E. That’s the price for the comfort. Smaller caravan is not so demanding, however you have to be aware of the limited space for sleep if you travel in bigger groups

Folding caravans:










Fleetwood Evolution


Fleetwood Evolution

A convenient alternative are folding caravans, which have gained a big popularity among caravanning enthusiasts. Their advantages include, for example, easier driving and smaller air resistance, which have a good influence on fuel consumption Thanks to this folding design, it looks like a standard caravan while driving, and after unfolding it resembles a small house. Such caravans can provide a shelter only for up to 5 people, the living space is also smaller. For those, who like comfort, unfolding it comes as a painful surprise. Among the folding caravans, you can also find caravan-canopies, which are much more lighter and smaller than standard folding caravans with stiff walls.















YSIN - Opera


YSIN - Opera


YSIN - Opera



What are the most popular caravans?

Caravans are popular all over the world. In each country you can observe some trends among users, for example what are the deciding factors when it comes to buying a caravan. “The bigger, the better” may describe people in the United States, where usually to the campsite goes the whole family. There, the most popular campers are those biggest, two-or three-axle, hooked to the vehicle like semitrailers not caravans. You only come to the campsite and park.

It’s also worth to mention about the "gems" – classic caravans, which started this big adventure called caravanning. We are talking about the beautiful and shiny Airstreamers, well known on the American market, which Wally Byam began producing in 1932, and a small compact caravans ERIBA which were designed by Eric Bachem in 1950. These caravans have been produced in unchanged, but constantly improved form till this day.


Airstream - long time ago...


Airstream - nowadays


Eriba - once... Fot. Jacek Grabowski - owner and enthusiast of Eriba's


Eriba - once... Fot. Jacek Grabowski - owner and enthusiast of Eriba's


Eriba - once... Fot. Jacek Grabowski - owner and enthusiast of Eriba's


Eriba - once... Fot. Jacek Grabowski - owner and enthusiast of Eriba's


Eriba - nowadays


Eriba - nowadays


Eriba - nowadays

Required qualifications

The qualifications required to drive different types of campers are listed here. The case gets a bit complicated in the case of caravan, however we’ll try to explain that. But first a little bit of theory.

Category B, enables us to pull a caravan with a vehicle whose GVW (with a caravan) doesn’t exceed 3500kg (GVW of a car + GVW of a caravan cannot exceed 3500kg). Please note that GVW of a caravan cannot exceed the Curb Weight of the towing vehicle, as well as the valuedetermined in the position Q1 in the registration card.

Under the Vienna Convention the GVW of the towing vehicle and a caravan may exceed 3500kg (with 4250kg of maximum weight), but the caravan must be light, and its GVW must not exceed 750kg.

If you want to pull with such vehicle a caravan with the GVW of 751kg, you need to have a driving license category B + E. This category allows you to pull a caravan which GVW does not exceed the Curb Weight of the vehicle (but with the vehicle of GVW up to 3500kg) so the maximum weight of the vehicle unit must not exceed 7000kg.

Nonetheless, you should always check the registration card much the vehicle is able to pull with regard to above-mentioned.


  • GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) - is the maximum weight for a vehicle recommended by manufacturers, including: the weight of the vehicle, passengers, all cargo and fuel and other fluids.
  • CW (Curb Weight) - Is the weight of the vehicle which does not include passengers, cargo or any optional equipment.
  • Light caravan – GVW does not exceed 750kg


A vehicle with the GVW of 1600kg (CW 1000kg) + light caravan with the GVW of 600kg


To drive such unit of vehicles is enough to have a driving license category B, because the sum of the GVW does not exceed 3500kg, and the GVW of a trailer does not exceed the CW of the towing vehicle.


A vehicle with GVW of 1800kg (CW 1200kg) + a caravan with the GVW of 1200kg


To drive such unit of vehicles it’s enough to have a driving license category B, because the sum of the GVW does not exceed 3500kg, nonetheless the caravan has to be equipped with an overrunning brake.


A vehicle with the GVW of 1800kg (CW 1000kg) + a caravan with the GVW of 1200kg


You cannot drive such unit of vehicles, because the GVW of the caravan exceeds the CW of the towing vehicle.


A vehicle with the GVW of 3000kg (CW 2000kg) + a caravan of GVW of 1200kg


To drive such unit of vehicles you must have a driving license category B+E, because the sum of the GVW amounts to 4200kg. You have to also remember that the whole unit exceeds 3500kg, and we have to pay additional toll. In Poland it’s obligatory to have the Viatoll system which automatically pays the toll, and vignettes when we are abroad.


A vehicle with the GVW of 3500kg (CW of 3000kg) + a caravan with GVW of 750kg


A driving license category B is enough because we pull a light caravan, and the maximum GVW of such unit can be up to 4250kg. You have to remember that the whole unit exceeds 3500kg and we have to pay additional tolls. In Poland it’s obligatory to have the Viatoll system which automatically pays the toll, and vignettes when we are abroad

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