Unlike buying a second-hand camper trailer, you won’t have to perform as many vigorous checks, as the model you will be purchasing will be brand new. That being said, it still is important to check over a new camper trailer to make sure it is right for you.
Decor: Do you like the layout and look of the interior? Is it big enough for your group? Are there other furnishing options and how will it affect storage and sleeping capacity? Can you choose the pattern of the furniture fabrics, curtains and table tops?
Bedding: Is it comfortable? What types of bedding layouts are available? If the bed is raised, does it require a ladder to get to it?
Power sockets: Does it come with them? Does it come with other types of adapters such as USB plugs or 12V cigarette lighter adapters?
Storage: Can it hold everything you need to keep inside the trailer? Do the compartments have locks on them?
Always check the connections on the gas cylinder and in the kitchen when inspecting a forward fold camper trailer.
Much like the interior, it can be safely assumed that this camper trailer has not experienced the wide open road yet. This means many aspects such as the brakes, suspension, tyres and paintwork should be in perfect condition. However, it still doesn’t hurt to check these aspects.
Set Up and Pack Down: Is it easy to do? Are you confident that you are physically capable of doing it many times over your trip? Does it take one or two people to do?
Aesthetics: Do you like the paint job? What options do the exterior colours and decals come in? Do particular finishes cost more?
Build Quality: Are you confident in the quality of this camper trailer? Are there any obvious design flaws that may lead to issues down the track? Are the seals, zips, velcro and stitching strong? Does the manufacturer use well-known branded products (eg. Al-Ko suspension) in its design? Where was the camper trailer built, Australia or overseas? Some imports do not comply with Australian Design Standards.
Manufacturer: Are you able to view the factory where it is built? Are you confident in the process they use to build it? Are you buying from a trusted manufacturer? Have you looked online for any previous reviews about the model you are looking to buy and the brand? Is the camper trailer built for Australian conditions?
Features and Optional Accessories
Your decision will likely come down to the features and accessories included in your camper trailer. So when you have narrowed down your search to a few different models, begin comparing the features of each of them. You may find one that stands out from the crowd with a great list of features.
Many manufacturers offer a huge range of optional extras that can be added to your new camper trailer at an extra cost. Roof racks, solar panels and upgraded suspension are a few of the most common optional extras people get with their forward fold camper trailers. If you are good at negotiating, you may even be able to get a few included when you buy your camper trailer from a dealer.
Questions to ask the salesman
Much like questioning a private seller about a used camper trailer, it is important to ask the salesperson you are dealing with a few questions about your potential new camper trailer.
After Sales Support: How long is the warranty for this camper trailer? What does it cover? Do you offer roadside assistance or other services for my camper trailer?
Opinions: Why should I buy this camper trailer? What are the problems with this model? Ask a few questions to try and gauge the salesperson’s opinion and attitude towards a particular model, as it may uncover things they might not have previously disclosed.
Negotiating: Do you have any promotions on with this model right now? How is this camper trailer priced against other local dealers? Can I get any extras added into the deal if I buy from you?
Researching before you begin price discussions is crucial at this stage. Know the prices from other dealers for that exact model and what you get with it. If this dealer isn’t able to give you what you want, try somewhere else. Many dealers will give you a counter offer within a few days if they really want to sell to you. Keep in mind you may want to negotiate price after you have taken it for a test tow.
Be sure to check that all doors and drawers can be securely fastened when you take it for a spin…
Regardless of whether you are buying new or used, you should ideally be able to give it a tow behind your tug. However, some dealers and private sellers may not wish for you to do this. Although you can buy a camper trailer without giving it a tow test, we strongly recommend you do not, as you can learn many make or break characteristics about the trailer this way.
Here are a few things to consider when you’re giving it a test tow:
Stability: Does the caravan sway or wobble when on the road? Does it begin to feel unstable at high speeds? Does it bounce around over bumps? If you are looking at a more ‘off-road’ focussed model, try to take it down an unsealed road to see how it performs (if the seller allows).
Braking: Do the brakes work well? How long is the braking distance? Does the trailer list to the left or right under heavy braking? Do the electronic brakes (if installed) work?
General Driving: Is it easy to reverse? How good is your sight behind the trailer? Will you need [extended mirrors] to see past it? Was it easy to hitch the camper to your tug? Does the camper make any unusual noises when being towed?
Towing Vehicle: Does it feel like it is straining your towing vehicle? Does the trailer connect to your existing hitch securely? Do your tow vehicle’s electronics interfere with the trailer? Will your tow vehicle’s suspension need to be upgraded to tow the camper trailer safely?
Finalising Your Purchase
Once you have found your perfect camper trailer, it is time to get back on the computer and do some research into insurance and comparing the value of your future home-away-from-home.
Even if you have your heart set on one particular camper trailer, it is still worth researching other models in your area to see if you can get a better deal. For example, it may be worth enquiring with a few of your local dealers about a price quote you received to see if any will beat it. On the other hand, if you are searching for a used model, you may be able to find a similar camper trailer from a different seller that offers better value for money.
For a more comprehensive analysis into bargaining with a dealership or private seller, insurance and how to finance your camper trailer, check out tips in our used caravan buyers guide in the ‘Finishing the Deal’ section!
After reading this guide, you will be equipped with the knowledge on what to look for when buying a new or used forward fold camper trailer. Just try to hold in your excitement and not buy the first camper trailer you see!