The best place to buy a motorhome or caravan


These days the options for buying a motorhome or caravans are vast. With thousands of choices available online and at your fingertips, the choice can be overwhelming. So what are your options?

Private sale

Sites like TradeMe have made selling a motorhome or caravan super-simple. The choice is wide and the search tools make narrowing down the selection easy. This is a good option for buyers of pre-owned motorhomes and caravans, and if you’re prepared to put in the hours, you could be rewarded with a great buy.

Be aware, however, that you won’t receive the same comprehensive legal protection buying privately as you would buying from a licensed dealer. It’s also unlikely the vehicle will have been through a comprehensive pre-sale check or that you’ll receive a comprehensive handover of the vehicle.

If you know what you’re doing, or you have friends who do then you’ll probably be fine. Just take a little extra care in checking the vehicle carefully in addition to its ownership and another history.

When it comes to new motorhomes and caravans, buying them privately can carry a good deal of risk. You might get a great price, but that great deal will come at the expense of something. Parts, warranty, service? Who knows? A new motorhome or caravan is an expensive purchase, buying one from someone who sells a handful a year from a warehouse, vacant lot or the back of his house seems like a risky proposition. Could be a case of just cross your fingers and hope for the best... 

Privately imported

Many people choose to import motorhomes and caravans privately from Europe, the UK and the USA. This can look like a great value, however, it can be a complicated process and many people fail to factor in the true cost which can run to tens of thousands of dollars and includes:

  • Freight
  • Sales taxes
  • Import duties
  • Gas and electrical compliance
  • Converting electrical and entertainment systems to the New Zealand standard
  • Modifications to bring the vehicle up to New Zealand self-containment standards
  • Vehicle compliance
  • Modifying non-compliant vehicles

Consider the warranty as part of your deliberations as well. It’s unlikely you’ll have any local support on the base vehicle or motorhome body if you didn’t buy the vehicle from the local distributor.

If you are going down this path do your homework carefully and make sure you’ve considered everything.

Licensed dealer

A licensed dealer provides the greatest level of protection for buyers. Not only are you covered by the consumer guarantees act which offers all buyers comprehensive guarantees, but most dealers have built good reputations through a history of looking after their customers.

The best dealers carry a wide selection of parts, have an on-site service centre with trained staff and are happy for you to see their testimonials and talk to other customers. You’ll also receive an instructional handover of the motorhome or caravan and will have someone to call if you have questions over the first few weeks.

The wide range that most dealers hold should mean they’re able to make recommendations on the best motorhome or caravan for your needs. The best dealers will also start off by asking you a series of questions about how you plan to use the motorhome rather than rushing into selling to you.

The best place to buy a motorhome or caravan will depend greatly on your circumstances and tolerance for risk. As always, do your homework and talk to as many people as possible before rushing into what could be a costly mistake.

TrailLite has been in the industry since 1954 and over that time has developed expertise in motorhome and caravan ownership, servicing and what product is best for your needs. The best and least risky choice is to buy from a reputable dealer like TrailLite who has the history and service to help you make the right choice as well as for the duration of your time on the road. 

Written by Shaun Newman, Joint Managing Director

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