A Guide to Buying Motorhomes in Australia [2019]

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Are you one of the thousands of Aussies each year that has had enough of the 9 to 5 and are dreaming of a getaway? Heading off on your own adventure in a home on wheels is the most magnificent feeling….If you have the right Motorhome. Unfortunately, for some, purchasing a motorhome becomes a painfully overwhelming experience that puts a dark spin on their plans for adventure.

Before taking the plunge and purchasing your home on wheels, make sure you read through our comprehensive guide for buying your next Motorhome in Australia. It’s full of hints, tips and advice for making the right choice the first time and ensuring your next holiday gets off on the right foot, or wheel as the case may be.

Is a Motorhome the Right Choice?

A new or used Motorhome is a comfortable and affordable way to see Australia, but remember there are other options and you want to make sure you’ve explored them all. From the humble swag or tent, to a camper trailer, caravan and Motorhome your decision can be a daunting one.

To make it easier sit down and ask yourself, where do i want to go on holiday? Camper trailers and caravans are great alternatives, but if it’s luxury, easy set up and drivability you’re looking for then you really can’t go past a motorhome. Being able to pull up literally anywhere and put the kettle on within 5 minutes is a luxury that can’t be outdone. Everything is pre-setup, there’s no poles, ropes and winders. It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny, rainy or a cyclone your home on wheels will always be ready to offer you a comfy seat and a bed out of the weather.

On the flip side, you don't have seperate transport so if you’re into a lot of sight seeing that you’ll need a car for, make sure you think about that prior to your purchase. You can always opt to tow a car, or simply pack in some electric bikes for those quick fish and chip shop dinners.

New or used - What do you really want to spend?

This is a tough one. A new Motorhome is definitely appealing. When you purchase new, you know that the motorhome is set up just the way you need it. It has full warranty and mechanically it will be in top condition. However, they can break the bank very quickly with added features and inclusions.

A used Motorhome may be a better choice if you’re a little tight on the budget. As long as you’re buying from a reputable Motorhome dealer that offers you warranty on your used motorhome, you can rest easy knowing if something goes wrong you have a network of repairers to help. Make sure if you are buying a used Motorhome privately that you get a full mechanical check, Check the tyres and body for wear and tear, and ask for all the servicing records to make sure it has been well looked after.

Size, Features and Builders

In Australia there are 6 main types of vehicle classified as a Motorhome. These range from the classic campervan which consists of a van with a pop up roof to give you room to stand, all the way up to Class A vans that don't hold back in inclusions and luxury. Let’s take a quick look at each category to help you decide what’s best for you:

Campervans - Historically the name “Campervan” was used to describe all Motorhomes, but nowadays it is a term that relates to the smallest of the “house on wheels” category. Most campervans that are readily available are based on the Toyota Hiace or Volkswagen Transporter and have an added “pop-top” that gives you the head room. A campervan doesn’t come with an internal toilet of shower.

Yes - If you want a small, fuel efficient weekender that’s easy to drive and park and there’s only 2 of you this could be a good option

No - More than 2? Need a bit or room, or want to go away for longer? You may find a campervan a bit squishy and inconvenient, especially if you run into bad weather.

Larger Van Conversions - There is disrest amongst travellers as to whether these vans are really just Class C Motorhomes, but the reality is they are set apart by the fact they are still a van converted into a motorhome, not a Motorhome body fitted to a chassis. They are much larger than their smaller cousins and come fitted with internal showers and toilets making them much more convenient. The 3 main suppliers of these conversions are Mercedes, Iveco and Fiat.

Yes - More space to move and still easy to maneuver, drive and park. Great for singles or couples

No - If you plan on meeting new people and want to have a cards night, there won't be room for your guests. Also the beds are usually a little short as the van body is narrower than a true Motorhome.

C and B Class Motorhomes - Now we move into the true Motorhome categories. The C and B class Motorhomes are easily identified by the bed compartment that sits over the top of the main drivers cabin. B class is a little more refined in it’s look and a little more luxurious in its features, but both are designed with a bed up high and space in the back. Internal bathrooms are included and you can fit more than 2 people to travel along with you.

The main providers for these classes are Mercedes Benz Sprinter, Isuzu NPR, Fiat Ducato and the Iveco Daily. You can also grab a smaller version in converted Toyota Hilux or Ford Ranger, but space is hard to find.

Yes - If you’re looking for the Motorhome feel without the big budgets, these are a great starting point.

No - They lack the refinement of an A-Class and you may find yourself cursing the lack of forethought in some of the design.

A Class Motorhomes - The ants pants, or bees knees of 4 wheel travel, these Motorhomes will make you never want to stop driving the open road. Known for their sleek look, clever storage ideas and pure luxury inclusions an A class really is like packing up your house, adding wheel and breathing in the fresh air. Rain, hail or shine you’ll love every minute of your adventure in an A class, as long as you can afford one.

Class A Motorhomes are instantly recognisable as they are built on a truck chassis and the main cab is integrated with the rest of the body. There is no bed over the top of the driver, making for sleeker lines and more aesthetically appealing bodies.

Most people associate A class with the American market but they are becoming more and more popular in Australia for their style and luxury.

Motorhome Security - On and off the road

When you’re away on holiday the last thing you want to come back to is a ransacked or missing Motorhome. In the way of security there are many things you can do to make sure you’re protected.

Locks and Braces

To secure your motorhome when you’re not in it, or it’s parked up in storage you should be investing in wheel clamps. This will prevent anyone towing your vehicle. You can also add another level of protection with steering wheel and gear stick locks so if they do manage to undo your wheel clamp, they still can’t get your Motorhome into gear or steer it away from it’s parking spot.

Electronics

The most common and basic electronic security devices are immobilisers and alarms. If you’re buying your Motorhome from a dealer they can have these fitted for you. The sound of an alarm going off in a busy van park is usually all you need to deter would be thieves, but if that’s not enough making sure you have an engine immobiliser fitted will stop them in their tracks.

GPS Technology

If all else fails and somehow they’ve gotten through all your security measures and run off with your adventure vehicle, you can have tracking devices installed so you can see where their gong and the police can cut them off and get your valuables back.

Motorhome Accessory Must haves

We feel that there are a few must have accessories when you hit the open road.

Awnings and walls - It’s great to have a no fuss no set up Motorhome, but if you happen to hit weather that makes you wonder what sun looks like, you’ll be glad that you added on an extra room to stretch your legs and have your own space.

Batteries - You can’t have too many. If you get stuck somewhere with no power you’ll thank yourself that you bought extra batteries to run a fridge and the essentials. If you’re hoping to check out some more remote areas these are a must.

12V fan - Although a lot of Motorhomes have air con, you may not want to run this all night. If you think about your family home, most of us have a fan somewhere to get that nice cool breeze to sleep with. Motorhomes are insulated but still get quite stuffy and when there’s no breeze on the horizon a small fan will just make it that bit more comfy.

Last but not least a Reversing Camera - Motorhomes are big…..and reversing can be a challenge even in a car at home, so when you get to that van park and there’s campers everywhere having eyes in the back of your head is a great idea.

How and Where do you Buy your Motorhome?

There are 2 main ways you can acquire your new Motorhome. You can find one on the private market, or you can go to a dealer. There are a few things to consider here so let’s compare your choices:

Private Sale - There are plenty of new and used motorhomes for sale in NSW on the private market and this can make for some good up front saving compared to buying from a dealer. The person you’re buying off will have first hand knowledge of the vehicle, there’s no overhead to bump up the price and you can have a chat to them about any issues they found along the way. The downside is you need to trust a stranger to tell you the truth about something they’re selling. You will need to do your own independent checks, and if you do have an issue you’re on your own.

Also if you do need to finance (which most of us do) you’ll find this much harder to do for a private sale.

Pros - Cost, history and convenience

Cons - Lack of clarity, warranty, Finance options and lots of independent advice needed

Dealer Sale - Although it may be true that you’ll pay a slightly higher up front price, the convenience and peace of mind that come with buying from a dealer is usually worth it. Obviously if you’re looking for a New Motorhome this is your only Choice, but when it comes to Used Motorhomes a dealer can definitely be a better option. You’ll have a large range to compare all in one place and on site finance and warranty available for purchase. Motorhomes from dealers are also mechanically checked, tested and cleaned before you get them so no outside checks are needed.

Pros - On site Finance and warranty, Road worthies, Knowledge, Choice

Cons -Slightly higher up-front cost.

Conclusion

Setting off on your next big adventure should be an amazing and exciting time. Don’t let the purchase of your Motorhome bring down your enthusiasm, just start at the beginning, stick to your plan and get moving.

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