Particularly in demand since Corona: Because camping is becoming more and more popular, the prices for mobile homes are also rising. It pays to keep an eye on used vehicles. We’ll show you what to look out for when buying.
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Be independent, travel from place to place, always sleep in the same bed and somehow feel at home: With your own motorhome this is easily possible. Not only, but especially since Corona, the mobile apartments have been popular. New vehicles cost a lot of money, used ones are cheaper. However, such a purchase is not that easy. Experts give tips on how to find their dream home on wheels.
Axel Sülwald advises those looking for mobile homes or motorhomes, or womos for short, to take a look at local daily newspapers, advertising papers, the specialist press or the Internet. “A tip from a friend who already owns a mobile home often helps with the search,” says the editor-in-chief of Auto Bild Reisemobil. Before buying, interested parties should first rent a motorhome and try it out.
“Before someone spends tens of thousands of euros on a vehicle, he should be sure that he likes this type of travel and such a vehicle,” says Sülwald. In addition to professional providers such as McRent, private individuals also offer rolling apartments for rent on platforms such as Paul Camper.
Define your own preferences in advance
There are many motorhomes out there, but not every model will suit your needs.
Future globetrotters should think about where they want to go with their motorhome at all. “Anyone planning city trips with it should buy one with a green environmental badge, otherwise they have to take detours”, says Thorsten Rechtien from Tüv Rheinland. This does not apply to oldtimers with a historical license plate – they are also allowed to drive in environmental zones without a sticker.
For Daniel Rätz from the Caravaning Industry Association (CIVD), the right size of the vehicle comes first. “Large motorhomes often weigh more than 3.5 tons and require a C1 driving license if the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight of up to 7.5 tons.” However, 85 percent of all motorhomes registered in Germany weigh less than 3.5 tons, for which a class B driving license is sufficient.
In his opinion, searchers will often find what they are looking for at dealerships in the area. The professionals offer a large selection, can advise as experts and offer a used vehicle guarantee and other services. At the end of a season, the dealers often also sell former rental vehicles.
Choose the motorhome like an apartment
Once the decision to buy a vehicle has been made, it is important to compare advertisements, get a feel for the prices and get on with a suitable offer. Interested parties should choose and view the mobile like an apartment, advises Daniel Rätz. Is the division correct and do you like the interior design? Safety also plays a role: in many older vehicles, for example, there is no passenger airbag or ESP installed.
“The older the vehicles, the more often they are in poor condition,” says Axel Sülwald. In the case of vehicles from the 1990s with far more than 150,000 kilometers and under 15,000 euros, interested parties should take a closer look. He advises you to take a specialist with you for an inspection or to have the vehicle checked by a testing organization. “As with normal cars, checking papers and technology is a compulsory task for mobile homes,” says Sülwald. The history must be traceable, invoices, HU reports and other documents such as test reports for a gas system must be available.
A more detailed check is pending
When making a tour around the motorhome, the requirements are similar to those for cars. “The individual assemblies can be checked using an HU checklist,” says Thorsten Rechtien. These roughly include lighting, exhaust, brakes, electrics, chassis, engine, chassis, steering, tires, windows and mirrors. Interested parties should also take a look under the bonnet with a flashlight and watch for leaks there.
In the case of motorhomes, there is also the control of the superstructure, gas system and the interior. “The overall impression in the interior can also be decisive when buying. What does the furniture look like, do all the doors and flaps still close? A musty smell indicates moisture and possibly the resulting mold,” says Rechtien. Moisture often arises from the humidity during winter if no air dryers are used in winter storage. The odor is then difficult to remove. In general, he advises careful inspection, after all owners want to spend as much time as possible with a motorhome and experience a lot with it.
Pay attention to moisture damage
Moisture in the thin walls can lead to total loss.
Rust on the underbody and the wheel arches is a major problem in older vehicles, as is collision damage to the body and moisture damage. “If window seals are porous or incorrectly installed or damage caused by accidents has not been properly repaired, moisture can penetrate the body,” says Axel Sülwald.
In older Womos, the insulated walls consist of a sandwich of cladding, wood and styrofoam. If water penetrates into the space in between, the wood can rot and the entire side wall must be replaced. Depending on the age of the vehicle, this is equivalent to an economic total loss. Newer vehicles with sandwich panel construction offer more tightness and are therefore less problematic.
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Off to a test drive
If there are many patches, black-painted sub-floors, tinkering with the electrical system, changed window format and mold on mattresses and paneling, interested parties should move on. “It also becomes dangerous if the gas system has been tampered with. Only an expert is allowed to do this,” says Sülwald. Inexperienced people can also go to a test center for a used vehicle check during the test drive. However, the owner must agree to this and an appointment with the test center must have been arranged in advance.
But: Since many vehicles are largely built by hand and do not have the quality of a large-scale series, the quality differs greatly. “A bit of rattling is part of it with motorhomes,” says Axel Sülwald. Future owners should get used to this during the holiday tour.