Just like a car, buying a caravan is one of the biggest financial decisions that a person can make and not one that should be rushed. In this short guide, we’ll help you choose your new home on wheels!
Is your car the right weight to tow your chosen caravan?
The most important (and the first) thing you should consider when buying a caravan is the weight of your caravan and car.
Not only does the caravan need to be a sensible match for the weight of the car, but your driving licence may restrict you to towing a car and caravan with a combined max weight of 3,500kg.
Essentially, the heavier the pulling vehicle and the lighter the caravan, the safer the setup will be. It is generally recommended that the weight of the caravan wand its contents should not exceed 85% of the car’s kerb, or unladen, weight. This is called ‘outfit matching’.
What type of caravan should I buy?
If you’re considering an old-style caravan, bear in mind that the boxy shape will increase fuel consumption and could compromise stability. In contrast, the streamlined caravans available now have much improved aerodynamics. These issues can be avoided altogether by thinking about a folding caravan or trailer tent.
A modern folding tent can be easily erected upon arrival at a campsite, with the kitchen hinged up into position quickly. However, generally there is much less storage space than a traditional caravan. As fuel becomes more expensive, the economics of towing a folding caravan may become more plausible due to its safer handling and low travelling height.
What is berth and why should I consider it when purchasing a caravan?
Just like houses, caravans come in a range of different sizes. A ‘berth’ is a space for someone to sleep, so the number of berths that you choose will very much depend on how many people will be joining you on your trips away.
You should consider the size of your travelling party when making a purchasing decision. Whether travelling alone, as part of a couple or as a large group, the higher the number of berths, the bigger the caravan will be.
If you’d just like more living space, you could also opt for a caravan with a higher number of berths than you need to give you a little extra room. Higher berth vehicles usually have much more storage, additional dining areas and larger kitchens. If you struggle to travel light, this may be the right option for you!
What is an axle and should I consider a single or twin axle caravan?
A single axle caravan will only have one axle and two wheels. A twin axle caravan will have two axles and four wheels. Generally, single axle caravans are smaller and lighter in weight whereas a twin axle caravan is longer and heavier. Only large caravans need four wheels to hold their fully laden weight, most caravans are supported by one axle with no issue.
So which axle formation is best? It’s really up to you! Two tyres on each side of the caravan do give better grip than one and bring better stability. However, once parked, a twin axle caravan does not necessarily stand level and may have a heavier noseweight* than a single.
Alternatively, a twin axle vehicle can increase your initial costs and weight, double replacement costs and require more care over time.
*Noseweight – A caravan's noseweight is the weight, or downward force on your tow bar when your vehicle is being towed