- Timing is important. Prices are likely to be at their highest immediately before Easter, when the touring season starts. They'll generally be lower at the end of the season but if you buy in the quieter season be sure to factor in any possible additional costs incurred over the winter period, such as storage.
- After determining your budget and preferred layout, make a list of features and fittings you want in your ideal motorhome - then decide whether you consider them essential.
- Consider hiring. This gives you a taster of the touring experience and will help you make an informed choice on the type of layout you may wish to have. The Club's website has a list of motorhome hire companies throughout the UK, you can find these in our help and advice section.
- Make notes of the exact make and model you view and especially like. You'll be amazed how easy it is to forget.
- Check if a secondhand motorhome has any outstanding payments due on it by contacting HPI (0845 300 8905, hpicheck.com).
- Look into the logistics and possible costs for repairs. Spares availability may not always be good - items of equipment such as heaters and fridges can be easy to source, but often replacement body panels and items of trim are tricky to track down - especially on vehicles no longer in production.
There are a considerable number of ways to purchase a motorhome:
Specialist retailers. Use a business directory, the internet or listings in motorhome magazines to find dealers near you. As well as benefiting from product knowledge and the ability to carry out any servicing and repair work, purchasing from a specialist retailer gives you more legal rights - all the way up to rejecting a vehicle if it's subsequently found to be "not fit for purpose". Also, you'll probably get a warranty of anything from three to 12 months on secondhand vehicles that usually covers both the mechanical and the conversion work of the vehicle. Needless to say, the nearer a dealer is to your home base, the better in terms of travel time and costs saved when any servicing is required.
Private purchase. Keep an eye out for the small ads in your local press as well as specialist motorhome and Club magazines. There's usually a genuine reason for selling and prices should be less than from a specialist, although you forego some legal rights as well as any kind of official warranty when you buy privately. The same applies for motorhomes put up for sale privately over the internet.
Auctions. These tend to be the preserve of those who are "in the know", yet nevertheless offer the potential to pick up a bargain.
Shows and other special events. There are plenty of outdoor and indoor motorhome exhibitions. They're often ideal for general "shopping around" and advice gathering - and you can sometimes pick up end-of-season bargains here. Before you buy at an event, check where the seller is based and whether you will need to travel far if you need to get something checked under the warranty or for servicing.
Making your purchase
There is usually some leeway on price, but you'll probably strike a better deal if you ask for extras and increased warranties rather than just hammering down the advertised price.
If you're happy with everything - from price to delivery times - you're in a position to pay a deposit, the amount of which is negotiable. Remember that deposits are rarely returnable.
When you come to collect your vehicle, you should get a full handover when all the equipment is explained. Some dealers even offer the facility to stay on a campsite locally - an ideal opportunity to make sure everything works and that you know how to use it.
And remember, always get a receipt from the seller when you buy or pay a deposit.