10 Things You Need To Know Before Buying a Motorhome


The Motorhome Buyers Guide.

10 things you absolutely must know before you buy,  so your motorhome dreams don’t become nightmares.

1. Know what you want or at least and idea.

Do you want a motorhome that can double up as a regular vehicle? Do you hanker after a 40ft RV to live full time in. Or are you just interested in the long weekend away now and again. Will the grandkids come with you, how many seatbelt do you need? Motorhomes come in all shapes and sizes, the names can be confusing. Do some research. Different types of motorhome lend themselves to differing styles of use. Everyone’s requirements are going to be different; the hard part is deciding what you need and then prioritising those needs. The priority is important because finding the “perfect” motorhome might be nigh on impossible. Most of us make a compromise somewhere, whether on size, style or price etc. We need to find our high priority requirements first, and then all the others are a bonus.

2. Know your budget and stick to it

There are literally many thousands of motorhomes for sale at any one time. I can guarantee you will find the motorhome that fits your requirements at the the price you can afford. Of course there will be plenty that fit your requirements and are much more than you can afford but you should resist those. Motorhomes last a long time, buying an older one is fine.

3. Know what you can drive

Your licence will tell you the groups you are allowed to drive. Essentially; if you passed your car test before 1st January 1997, you are under 70 and have no medical conditions restricting your licence, you can drive a motorhome up to 7500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) or 8250kg with a trailer. But don’t take my word for it, check your licence and make sure you buy a motorhome that is under the weight you are allowed to drive.

4. Know how long your drive is.

You wouldn’t be the first person to arrive home excited with their new motorhome purchase, only to discover that it doesn’t quite fit on the drive.

5. Know what interior layout you need.

Everyone is different and of course reasons for owning a motorhome vary widely. This is why there are so many styles and layouts; hence there are so many motorhome models to choose from. I cannot emphasise enough how crucial it is to choose the layout that suits you. Many choose a layout using emotional decisions, letting colour and aesthetics take precedence over the advantages and disadvantages of different layouts. However the wrong layout is attributed as being the most common reason that people trade in their van not long after they buy, often losing a lot of money.

Motorhome Buyers Guide Layout

Living with the layout

6. Know that the motorhome belongs to the seller

Buying a stolen motorhome may well result in you losing both the motorhome and the money you paid for it. You must do your utmost to ensure that the motorhome seller actually owned the motorhome.

7. Know how it drives.

I am amazed how many people part with cash or sign on dotted lines without taking a test drive. They just take the seller’s word that it’s all OK. The test drive can reveal so much and must be carried out before you buy. Some dealers will make it sound so unnecessary, they will say they have personally driven it and it drives like a dream. They might mention that they have to move 14 other motorhomes to get that one out! Have none of it. You must drive it or at least be a passenger on a drive before you part with your cash.

8. Know what payload your chosen van has

We now know what we can load the motorhome to, but an important figure that we need to know is how much of our own stuff can we load into the motorhome before we put it illegally overweight.

9. Know that it’s not Damp

Do not buy a damp motorhome, it will literally rot away. Use your nose, does it smell of damp? Smell inside cupboards, wardrobes and under the sink. Study the roof lining and look for visible stains and water marks. Pay particular attention around the roof vent openings and where walls meet ceiling and where walls meet walls. Look for rust showing on any nails or screws or staples. Look inside the overhead cabinets and check the ceiling.

10.Know how to negotiate

To many people, haggling is a dark art that they know they will never master and will embarrass themselves if they try; but, without it, if you just cough up the money displayed on the price tag stuck in the windscreen, you could end up spending thousands more for a motorhome than you have to.

In the UK we lost the ability to negotiate a long time ago. Most of us just daren’t even try to barter for anything. The last 100 years of shops, department stores and supermarkets who put a price on everything and expect us to pay the sticker price without question has led us to losing a very important skill. We know that it would be pointless, if not embarrassing, if we were to try and negotiate the price of a loaf of bread at Tesco’s; it’s just not done. Even our modern street markets have prices on almost every item so the Barter and banter that was present just 20 years ago is gone. We have become a nation of non- negotiators.

The Motorhome Buyers Guide is available here 


About Author

Jim is a long time motorhome enthusiast travelling extensively in the UK and Europe. Averaging 12000 motorhome miles a year. He has owned many motorhomes both British and Continental. His present motorhome is a 27ft C class RV.


  1. kenandcaroline on

    All advice is good. nb Consumer rights law was clarified in 2015. Under ‘Which co.uk. find useful ‘faulty goods tool’ that help you to chase your rights if you have a problem

  2. Derry Wilson on

    Hello Jim.
    I am a newbie to this forum. We have been thinking about swapping our Caravan for a Motorhome for some time now. Having recently returned from a 2 week trip down through France to Spain and back in a ‘just go’ Hired motorhome, this has convinced us we should take the plunge and make our own purchase. This is where the problem starts, we know what we want from a motorhome but don’t know which make model would meet our requirements, which are: Island bed, large garage, open plan at front rather than side dinette i.e 2 side bench seats. automatic gearbox. preferably less than 3 mtrs high and not an A class. any advice would be greatly appreciated and received. Thanks Derry

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