What comes first – the caravan or the car?
Van or vehicle? What comes first?
Forget chickens and eggs.
The bigger question for caravanners is this…
Should you purchase a caravan to suit your car or a car to suit your caravan?
The expert team at New Age Caravans Perth explores this important topic.
Caravan or car – which should you buy first?
Day in, day out we have customers visit us across all age demographics, and without doubt one of the most-asked questions is: Can my car/4WD tow this (caravan)?
Ideally, we suggest you prioritise the caravan before the vehicle.
Why buy a caravan prior to a car?
There are several advantages to purchasing a caravan before buying a tow vehicle.
The main reason is to make sure your desired van can legally be towed behind the car.
For example, we often find that duel cabs cannot legally tow a caravan to its maximum potential due to the vehicle’s low gross combine mass (GCM). This is amplified when you factor in such things as passenger weight and bull bars. Therefore, with such vehicles, you will not be eligible to utilise the caravan to its full capacity.
In addition, not all cars or 4WDs have a ball rating that suits a regular caravan. Put simply, it’s a partnership, so it is important to make sure your van and car are well-matched.
For reference, it is often suggested that, when travelling, the ball weight of a van be around 10% of the total loaded caravan (ATM).
I have my van now. So, what am I looking for in a vehicle?
Approach this question in the same way you would when looking to buy a caravan:
- What are you wanting to do with the vehicle?
- Will you use it primarily for towing or will this be a vehicle that you drive daily?
- Are you expecting to take it off road?
The first recommended step is to obtain the weights and towing information of the vehicle to ensure your van can be legally pulled by it, accounting for passengers and extras that may be fitted to the car.
Be sure to ask the car dealer for the gross combined mass (GCM) of the tow vehicle. You would be surprised how many purchasers overlook this vital piece of information.
Don’t be afraid to consult your caravan dealer for help on this, too. Any respectable dealership and sales team should welcome the opportunity to assist and help calculate weights and measures.
What if I already have a vehicle and can’t afford to change it?
All is not lost. Some vehicles can legally be modified or upgraded to increase compliance figures. This may help when buying a caravan.
Also, most caravan brands will have a lightweight option if your vehicle doesn’t have a ‘healthy’ towing capacity.
This might mean having to compromise by buying a smaller van or revising some options. Fortunately, New Age has a large range of caravans, which can account for towing restrictions, be it size or weight.
Is there anything else I need to consider before buying a caravan?
There is a lot to think about. However, at New Age Perth, we believe if you have adequate answers to the following questions then you are a long way to purchasing a new caravan:
- The product – is it value for money? Am I getting what I’m paying for?
- What does the warranty cover? How long is it? Does it cover me Australia wide?
- What kind of back up service is available?
- Is the price competitive?
- Do I have enough payload (total weight) to do what I want with the caravan?
- Will the van’s layout suit me – and last – for five-plus years, or will I have to upgrade sooner rather than later?
- Does the van have on or off-road capabilities?
- What optional extras are available? What do I need?
- Is this product Australian made?
- What’s the resale value like? Are there hundreds of similar vans for sale that might negatively affect the resale price?
- As a customer, will I be looked after once I drive out of the gate? What processes are in place for me?
Credit to: Big 4 Holiday Parks for this article