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Caravan ownership: The unexpected costs

When you’re buying a caravan, your costs don’t stop at the purchase price. From electrics to accessories, we look at the real costs of caravan ownership and provide some ways that these costs can be minimised.

Insurance and registration

These necessary costs vary wildly state-by-state and depending on where you live. Notably, NSW has a high registration cost compared to the rest of the country. For example, at the time of publishing, a two-tonne van in NSW will cost about $389 a year for private use or around $624 a year for business use. In Victoria, it’s a flat fee of about $54 annually, regardless of usage. Insurance costs may also vary according to how you store your caravan.

Resale and depreciation

With the excitement of buying a caravan, it’s really easy to overlook depreciation. If you ever sell your rig, then depreciation should be seen as a future cost. How much will depend on how in-demand your type of caravan is when you sell it. Typically, smaller caravans are more popular because they’re easier to live with and sit at a more accessible price point than larger ones.

Maintenance

There are many areas on a modern caravan that require regular maintenance and the occasional upgrade – notably the running gear, including wheels, tyres, axles and suspension. Larger, heavier caravans are going to require more maintenance and spare parts. For example, caravans measuring more than five metres long have tandem axles, so you’re dealing with a second pair of wheels, another set of tyres and a second pair of brakes. Staying on top of any maintenance issues will help keep costs down.

Modern day caravans feature a 12V (DC) circuit, such as brake lights, and a 240V (AC) mains circuit for when connecting to site power. While there are no restrictions on DIY 12V maintenance, only a qualified electrician is permitted by law to work on any part of your 240V circuit. For work involving gas, always use a licensed gas fitter and don’t ever be tempted to do the work yourself.

Fuel, wear and tear

A cost that isn’t initially obvious relates to the increased wear and tear a caravan places on your tow vehicle and the increase in fuel consumption. However, there are a number of ways that this can be improved.

Storage

It’s not just the financial cost of a caravan that you have to consider. Your caravan is going to take up a lot of space so you’ve got to consider where you’re going to store it. And if you’re storing it out in the elements, you will incur extra maintenance costs; while a caravan cover might only set you back $300. That said you may find paid storage to be your only option at some point.

Equipment, accessories and spares

Even though your caravan should come with the basics, there’s a huge range of accessories that you will need to factor in at some stage. A Brake Controller and level rides are usually required at purchase. A new, improved coupling; a better jockey wheel; awnings and new brake systems with brake controller are among upgrades you can expect to make. Additionally, you’re going to need spares, such as tyres, brake pads and gas struts, which will figure as part of your maintenance plan. It’s good to be prepared with these before you set off.

Pre-travel preparation

Before your trip, you’ll be stocking up on groceries and consumables, such as cooking gas, toilet cassette chemicals, fuses and lubricants.

These costs need to be factored in so you have better understanding of caravan ownership.

Find out more about accessories and spares that will keep your caravan on the road.

 

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