Buy Your Perfect Motorhome "First Time"

Go Motorhoming and Campervanning cover

Buying Your Perfect Motorhome "Made Simple"
Buying a camper van or motorhome is a big decision, they are a lot of money and you probably have a long list of questions. This article will help you to understand all the considerations and will tell you where you can get the best expert help.

You can live full time in a motorhome, tour Europe with ease, or make the most of the winter sun in Spain, Portugal or Morocco. Best of all you can explore by motorhome the most diverse country in Europe the UK.

The following is an abridged version of Chapter 2 from Go Motorhoming and Campervanning

Motorhome manufacturers offer over 1000 new models and there is a bewildering 90 year history of earlier models to chose from. Whether you are one of the 9000 people a year who buy a new motorhome or prefer to buy a used motorhome, the following information will help you ask the right questions. The conclusion tells you how to ensure you buy your perfect motorhome first time!

Motorhome Classes
Motorhomes are divided into three main categories, referred to as classes A, B and C.
Most motorhomes utilise an existing light commercial vehicle engine and chassis. Commonly used are Fiat-Citröen-Peugeot, Ducato-Relay-Boxer built in the same Sevel factory. Others include Mercedes Sprinter, Iveco Daily, VW Transporter and Renault Master. Some motorhomes have an AL-KO galvanised chassis.

A-Class Motorhomes
A class represents all motorhomes that are 'coach shaped' the smooth lined body added to a bare chassis cowl.

B-Class Motorhomes
B Class are panel vans (such as transit vans) fitted out as motorhomes. These are also called day-vans and camper vans.

C-Class Motorhomes
C class refers to a chassis cab conversion with purpose built 'caravan' body attached.

Motorhome Buying Considerations

Budget "how much does a motorhome cost?"
Consider both the purchase price and running costs. As prices range from £1,000 to over £1,000,000 it is easy to become carried away, and you will probably find you need to spend more than you originally thought. Factor in insurance, servicing and recovery charges as well as fuel economy. Don't forget your add ons and extras (chapter 4).

Second Hand Motorhomes
Check the overall condition of the motorhome including; chassis/underneath, engine and mileage. Check the seals and trims on the outside for cracks, sun damage, knocks and scrapes. Inside the motorhome check carpets, cupboards, handles and upholstery, be aware of any personalisation.

Damp in older motorhomes can be a problem and must be checked for, but can normally be cured. Motorhomes suffering damp have a distinctive smell, mildew in cupboards is a sign but an inexpensive damp metre is worth having. Motorhome floors can de-laminate giving a bouncy feeling, again this can be cured. Wear and tear should be in line with the age of the motorhome. Ensure, by testing, that all gas/electrical parts are working. An older motorhome in excellent condition may be preferable to a younger one in poor condition.

Buying a New Motorhome?
If your about to spend £30,000 plus on a new motorhome, we have one piece of advice spend £12 and buy Go Motorhoming and campervanning, the odds are 3000 to 1 hardly a risky gamble.

Motorhome living accommodation Compromise is the only word that explains the situation. Thousands of motorhome layouts have been designed and continue to evolve, but there is no easy way to squeeze a kitchen, bathroom, dining room, lounge and bedrooms into a motorhome, so try not to be too ridged, as none of them will be perfect.

Bathroom - Not all motorhomes have a separate shower or a toilet, those who can rough it will survive without, but in reality this is inadequate.

Bedroom/sleeping - Poor sleep can be a big problem when away in your motorhome, roughing it for a week can be fun, but after a month you may not be laughing.

Kitchens - Can be cramped so ensure there is enough space to prepare a meal, but as with bathrooms they only need to be just big enough.

The above are likely to be your first considerations when buying a motorhome, however Go Motorhoming and Campervanning unravels all the other considerations you need to know to ensure you buy a safe, legal and manageable motorhome.

Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM)
Maximum Vehicle Weight, Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), and Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) all refer to the legal maximum loaded weight including all occupants of a motorhome. Converters of motor caravans can have the vehicle weight re-assigned both up and down. The MTPLM should not be confused with the Gross Train Weight (GTW) a higher figure that specifies the maximum combined weight of the motorhome when towing a trailer.

We cannot stress enough how important it is for you to understand payload, and we make reference to it throughout the book. Payload refers to the leftover weight between an empty motorhome (as calculated by manufacturers) and fully loaded to its specified MTPLM. We believe the payload should be sufficient in normal use to prevent you exceeding the MTPLM. Unfortunately this is not as straightforward as it seems as motorhome manufacturers include or exclude different items into the empty weight that is known as Mass In Running Order (MIRO).

Mass In Running Order (MIRO)
MIRO refers to the entire manufactured weight of a motorhome and the equipment required to operate and in the case of motorhomes includes 'essential habitation equipment '. Currently each manufacturer interprets the regulations differently. Therefore motorhomes bought before harmonization due July 2011 and then subsequently second-hand may have different MIRO and payload calculations. (This is a big subject and is vital to understand. We have produced a detailed chart of 70 motorhomes out of the 1000+ 2005 & 2006 new motorhomes you could buy that will provide you with sufficient payload).

Wheelbase, overhang and clearance
Wheelbase is the distance between the centre point of the front and rear wheels of a motorhome. Overhang; the distance from the centre point on the rear wheel to the rear of the motorhome, ideally this should be less than 55 per cent of the wheelbase to allow for towbars or bike racks, however 60 per cent is the recognised maximum legal limit. We once measured a factory standard motorhome with a 71 per cent overhang.

Axle weights
Axle weights may total more than the maximum vehicle weight MTPLM as this allows for load variation. Motorhomes with 60% overhang or longer increase the risk of exceeding rear axle weights. The most likely thing to cause an overloaded rear axle is 2/300kg of scooter and rack hanging off the back of a motorhome. Axles are always numbered from front to rear 1-2 and 3 when a tag axle is present.

In the United Kingdom the maximum permissible size of a motorhome is 12 metres (39 '4") long and 2.55 metres (8 '4") wide. Six metres is the benchmark between medium and large motorhomes. Campsites, road tolls, ferries, insurance and recovery prices are normally fixed for motorhomes up to six metres.

The above section briefly explains some of the legal issues of buying and using a motorhome. Ignoring these points could lead to you not being recovered buy your  breakdown company, not being covered by insurance if involved in an accident or traveling illegally and having to answer to the police.

Go Motorhoming and Campervanning also reveals many other factors involved in buying a motorhome including: The availability of parts, fuel - whether your motorhome should run on diesel, Petrol or LPG, Left or right hand motorhomes, accessories.

The conclusion
We said at the start that this is a highly cut version of chapter two of Go Motorhoming and Campervanning. We are repeatedly thanked and told that reading Go Motorhoming and campervanning has completely made people re-think what motorhome they thought they wanted and that it will probably save them thousands of pounds and countless of hours of research. We expect you to go away and try to find the answers to your questions but remember Go Motorhoming Campervanning is the only complete guide to buying, using and enjoying your motorhome. The answers are in one convenient place and the choice is yours but for the sake of £11.99 there really is no choice.