Two Big Motorhome Dealer Tips

Before we give you two dealer tips... You should know that you can buy a motorhome considerably cheaper from a private seller. However, unless you already know your way around a motorhome, and are au fait with the technical aspects or you have a good friend who does, then I don’t suggest buying your first motorhome privately.

Of course, the vast majority of private sellers are honest, but a few of them will say anything to sell any old rubbish and your recourse if you are caught out is negligible. So unless you have a very knowledgeable friend who you can trust; my advice is your first motorhome should come from a dealer.


Tip One: Choose a Dealer That is Close
If the motorhome you want is at a dealership over 75 miles away, this might cause you problems down the line. Motorhomes have lots of components that can go wrong. It’s rare you won’t have to travel back to the dealer for something. If you buy a long way from home, it’s not the dealer’s fault that you are so inconvenienced when they ask you to ‘pop in.’

A local dealer that you can develop a relationship with is far better than travelling miles to save a few quid. Only to see those savings burned when you have to keep travelling miles to see them. I’m not saying you will always be back at the dealer. Lots of buyers never have anything go wrong, but plenty do, and if it happens to you, you’ll be pleased you bought local.

Getting servicing done is always easier from your supplying dealer. If you buy from miles away, don’t be surprised if your local dealer is not too concerned when you call in for help with a problem or a service.


Tip Two: Do your Research on the Dealer
Before you buy, check out the dealer’s reputation. These days this is so easy to do. Start with Google, type in the company name, then add a space and the word review. This will probably bring up some interesting hits. An important one will be on the right and it will be Google’s own information that includes reviews. It’s important that rather than look at the overall rating, 3,4,5 stars etc, you actually spend some time reading the reviews.

Google-Reviews.jpg


I’m sure you know that many reviews online are fake. You need to dig into these reviews for clues. Treat terrible 1 star reviews and superb 5 stars, with equal suspicion. Read the reviews and click through to the reviewer and see how many reviews they have left for others. They may have reviewed a few other local dealers given critical reviews that point to it being a competitor. A big giveaway is the time. A bunch of good or bad reviews over the same weekend say, is a red flag.

Important..Check out the company's responses
A good company will respond with genuine concern to critical reviews, bad ones will not respond at all or leave a boilerplate response to every complaint.. “Sorry you’ve had a problem, call our service manager blah..”


Google Reviews2.png
You are likely aware there are a lot of strange people on the internet and some of those like to review things. Look at these.

I once saw a 1 star review of a dealership because when the new dealership premises were under construction they were noisy on a Saturday!

The London icon, Big Ben got a 1 star Google review for being too loud. Whereas the Great Wall of China, one of the major wonders of the world, got one star because it was too long.

The truth is to be found in those Google reviews, but you must discount the rubbish and hunt out the nuggets that really let you know what is going on.


Ask your peers
For the best reviews and the best place to get the lowdown on a company is to ask on the forums, the members here have bought vans from every dealer in the land. Just ask.
Most members are happy to praise an excellent company publicly, but if you ask and people have bad things to say, be assured you’ll be messaged privately. And don’t forget to check out our own reviews section.


About author
Sian
Siân is a long time motorhome enthusiast travelling extensively in the UK and Europe. She has owned many motorhomes, British, American and Continental. His present motorhome is an Orange Adria Twin. Siân is married to Jim, has three kid's, a dog and a dozen chickens. She lives at the seaside in sunny Sutton On Sea. You can visit her at this idyllic place

Latest reviews

Excellent article and very helpful...
A good guide exposing the possible downsides of buying
Good advice but having used a dealer with 10miles of where I live the only difference is not having to use a lot more fuel to go and complain. Just like the rest of the motor trade, expect to be bent over ..... and you will not be surprised WHEN it happens.

Comments

A CHECK ON COMPANIES HOUSE is a must:

https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company .

You're going to spend a lot of money. Is the company solvent? How long has it been in business? Is it part of another company with a not-so-good track record. Who are the directors? What other companies do they run? Have they ever been bankrupt? Are the accounts commensurate with the glossy showroom? How much debt?

The 'company reg. no.' should be in the small print on their website and the service is FREE!

NEXT, BEFORE YOU SIGN AN ORDER ask for a copy of their Ts&Cs.....THE SMALL PRINT. Take them home. Read them and understand them. They're not there for your benefit. Don't be afraid to challenge anything you're unhappy with BEFORE you sign. I bought a new car and found the Ts&Cs on the dealers website differed from the ones on the back of the order form!
HINT: you'll probably need a magnifying glass!
 
I agree with all of what has been said but here’s the thing, some of the marques do not have a geographical spread of dealers. As an example if you want a Frankia there is only one dealer in the UK, SMC at Newark. What do you do if you live in the south of England, for example? And, as we know, expensive motorhomes can break just as much as others. A dealer once said to me, “remember a motorhome is a collection of components from different manufacturers, some costing only pence and you are at the mercy of the cheapest.”
 
Good advice to keep it local when possible, but if you can’t, it is important to find local servicing, repair and support specialists who you can trust and rely on, particularly if buying second hand and with limited warranties. Spend as much time researching local service specialists as your original dealer and in exactly the same way using reviews as a guide.
We bought our current MH during Covid and as soon as we had organised to collect it we went into lockdown and had to wait months. On collection, many miles away, we had some issues which needed remedying and like Jim says, we had to ‘pop it in’ to them which was not so easy at 200+ miles! Fortunately, the dealer is close to my parents so once regular visits were allowed, I could easily make the trip but in the long term it is not a viable option to keep travelling that far. Our search for local specialists has been successful and we are now building that relationship.
 
CARRY OUT A HPI CHECK !

Remember, you’re parting with your hard earned cash on probably the second biggest investment you may make.
Therefore, make sure you do a HPI (or similar) check against the vehicle.
Most dealers will already offer this service but there are some that won’t and with some dealers entering agreements with the Motorhome current owner to sell their vehicle on the dealers forecourt for a commission, rather than the dealer owning the van to sell, this creates even more of a grey area if you’re later contacted to be advised that there’s outstanding finance owed on the van you have just bought.

Also, if you decide to buy private, ask to view the van where it’s registered to at the owners address.
Scrupulous sellers will pressure you to meet them at a storage facility or meet at a service station and will ask for a cash deposit to secure this ‘in demand’ Motorhome, only for them to disappear with your deposit.

If you feel awkward in telling the seller or dealer that you will be carrying out a HPI check, ask them for the vehicle Reg and say it’s to get an idea of the insurance costs for a quote.
You can then also check it’s MOT history if applicable.

BASICALLY, DO YOUR HOMEWORK
 
Someone mentioned Brownhills. I know it is a long time ago, 2007 but our Mc Louis was only available from Brownhills in this country but there were adverts in a magazine I was taking at the time from a German company who were offering the same MH for much less than Brownhills. True it was LH drive but for continental touring that was ideal. I tried negotiating with Brownhills and the price I was offered was £11,000 more than it cost for a better specification in Germany, including the cost of going to Bielefeld and bringing the wagon home, taking into account all possible expenses even food for the trip. I must admit the Euro to pound exchange rate was very favourable at the time. I have long been very happy with my decision and after so many years still love my wagon. Do your research.
 
We bought our first motorhome from a dealer. It was used. We asked if there were any problems with it. The response was interesting - "none that we know of, but if there are, we'll fix them". On the face of it this sounds a reasonable response - but what it meant in reality was, unless WE found a problem, they weren't going to fix it. And the value of their promise rested on how hard they'd looked for problems - who knew?

As it happens there was an obscure fault with the full-size three-way fridge freezer, which we spotted before purchase and the dealer happily fixed. Thankfully it didn't require a replacement freezer (it looked like it might at one stage - apparently many motorhomes are finished in manufacturer after these are fitted, so it wouldn't have fitted through the door).

So my learning point was - even if it's a dealer, if you're buying used, have the motorhome throughly inspected before handing over the money and don't trust that the dealer has some comprehensive "we'll repair anything after purchase" attitude. "Thoroughly" can take hours. Don't be embarassed about spending hours testing every aspect of the motorohome on the forecort of the dealer. It's what people do.

Of course, used motorhomes are very likely to have minor issues. It's unreasonable to expect a dealer to fix everything - but anything major and/or costly that they haven't told you about should be remedied or become a discount to the purchase price.
 
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