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Buying Advice - Caravans & Motorhomes: The Right Motorhome for You



The right motorhome for you


Before you buy a motorhome, there are a number of questions to consider:


  • Will your motorhome will be your only form of transport, or will it be used exclusively for leisure time?

  • How many people is the motorhome going to accommodate?

  • Do you want belted passenger seats for all the occupants? If you plan to travel with the kids it is no use having six beds and only four safe passenger seats.

  • How much storage space do you require? If you plan to spend long periods away from home, will one narrow wardrobe suffice?

  • Will the vehicle fit onto your drive or in your garage at home?

  • What facilities do you want in your motorhome? Flushing toilets, showers and full-sized cookers will all add to the cost. Decide whether you are more likely to stay at campsites with lots of facilities, or in the middle of a farmer's field.

  • On what type of vehicle should your motorhome be based? Turbo diesel-engined varieties dominate the market but they offer no advantage in terms of fuel economy, but they do offer lots of torque at low revs, with better performance than standard diesels. Petrol-engined models are less popular these days, but don't instantly dismiss them. They are cheaper to buy than diesels, quieter and perform well. Many second-hand motorhomes will have power steering and some will have automatic gearboxes. The best bargains will be those motorhomes built on less desirable base vehicles, such as Renault's Trafic.

  • Finally consider hiring a motorhome before you buy. This will confirm whether or not motorcaravanning is really for you.

Different types of motorhome


  • Fixed-roof campers
    These are essentially people-carriers with camping extras, such as a fold-out bed, cooker and sofa in the back of a light commercial vehicle (LCV). They are rarely affected by height restrictions and drive like a car. However they are short on headroom and don't have much storage space. Best for the occasional weekend away.

  • Elevating-roof campers
    There are two types of elevating roof: the solid-sided version and the cloth-sided. There is more effort required to fold out the panels of a solid-sided variety.

  • High-top campers
    High-tops are LCVs with the steel panel roof section replaced by a high, GRP-moulded section bonded to the roof channels. Occasionally, the high-top roof is made of steel, and fitted by the base vehicle's original maker, but this can be noisy in bad weather.

  • Low-profile
    These are coachbuilt vehicles with no sleeping area above the cab. They offer better fuel economy and handling than 'over-cab' versions, but are too big to negotiate normal height restrictions, and offer fewer berths. The over-cab space is for storage only.

  • Over-cab coachbuilt
    A traditional over-cab coachbuilt is a good choice for a small family. It has a double bed over the cab. However, it's not as good to drive as a smaller van conversion, and its height and size mean it can be difficult to park in built-up areas.

  • A-class
    Built on a chassis cowl, the body is entirely the work of the motorhome manufacturer. It will have a pull-down bed over the cab, and the seats will usually be fully integrated into the living area. These vehicles can, however, be expensive to buy.

  • American RVs
    American Recreational Vehicles have a specially built chassis, powerful engine and automatic transmission as standard, but are expensive to buy and run. They have lavishly designed living spaces.


next: Where to buy?