If you're thinking about purchasing a motorhome or campervan in Australia it's best to do some homework. It's a big decision and worth putting the time in to get it right. We've created a quick checklist of motorhome tips for beginners to help you work through some of the important things to consider.
1. Motorhome or Campervan?
Let’s clear up some of the key differences before we start. A motorhome is usually defined as a recreational vehicle built on a truck or bus chassis and is designed to be used as self-contained living quarters for travel. A campervan is a van equipped as a self-contained travelling home and is normally smaller than a motorhome. In most campervans, there is no dividing partition between the cab and the living quarters.
2. Budget Before You Buy
Going through the exercise of setting a budget is the key to buying a campervan or motorhome that matches your needs. This is your opportunity to get the best pricing on your new motorhome, so take the time to shop around, learn as much as you can and visit your local dealership.
How much do campervans cost? Prices vary greatly from smaller, more basic models to high-end luxury machines, with everything in between. It’s a substantial investment and there are a number of ways to fund your dream vehicle, including cash, bank loans, mortgage or super redraws as well as various forms of finance including from our partners Credit One. If you choose to finance, you can go online and search for a motorhome finance calculator on our website www.keamotorhomes.com to help you work out repayments.
Don’t forget to factor in the extra costs above and beyond the actual vehicle. You should allow for things like maintenance and repair costs, insurance and registration fees, campsite fees and fuel. Check with your local KEA dealer as some states also include your registration fees in the total price.
3. What Type of Motorhome (or Campervan) Do You Need?
Is it for yourself? For two people? Three or four? This is the starting point for most decisions.
You should also think about what type of driving style you are after. Motorhomes are sold as either manual or automatic, the large majority of KEA motorhomes are automatic transmissions.
Motorhomes with automatic transmission are relatively easy to drive and you get to sit back and enjoy the view without all the legwork. Autos are a great choice if you’re less confident driving a big unit or if there’s another family member who doesn’t like driving a manual. If you’re likely to be getting off the bitumen, rear wheel drive is more than handy and dual rear wheels are a great feature.
4. New or Used?
You also have the option of buying new or used. Buying a new motorhome has its advantages, such as the latest safety and comfort specs as well as being built to the most up-to-date emissions and safety requirements. New vehicles come with lengthy warranties on engine, drivetrain, body construction and appliances. And of course, a brand new motorhome is yours right from the start. You get exactly what you want in terms of fitout, options and accessories.
Buying a pre-loved or ex-rental motorhome also makes excellent sense. They’re more affordable, which appeals to many first-time buyers and all of the ex-rental vehicles we sell come from well-known brands under the thl banner such as Britz and Maui.
This means that you know that they have been well maintained and serviced regularly using qualified mechanics, factory-approved parts and all the right diagnostic machinery. Plus, all servicing is backed by thl, one of the world’s largest suppliers of holiday rental vehicles
5. Where Are You Headed?
The type of motorhome you choose should closely match the type of travelling you’ll be doing. The requirements for short trips in your own patch can be very different to long periods on the road crossing borders frequently or even going completely off-grid.
For some, using existing local campsite facilities is perfectly fine, whereas others can’t live without a shower and toilet on board. Once things move towards being self-contained, you’ll need to work through the options of fresh and wastewater tanks, solar panels, batteries and power supplies – it’s a fun list you can start making.
6. Comfort Levels
Some people really manage to make their motorhome a home away from home. Mod cons can include heating and cooling, a separate shower, washing machine, four burner cooktop, flexible bedding configuration, TV and audio systems and wifi. Well, you’ve gotta have wifi, yeah?
Determining how lavish you want life on the road to be is entirely your choice. These days, there are some amazing accessories and add-ons to make your journey a little more comfortable.
7. Motorhome Storage – The Great Indoors
This is where you will thank motorhome manufacturers for being such a creative lot. It’s amazing how much you can fit into a relatively small space that allows you to enjoy so many daily activities. But there are limits.
Think carefully about what you will want to take with you in terms of food, clothing, utensils, everything in fact. Write a list. Trim it down. Trim it some more. Then go look at a few motorhomes and see how close you are to fitting everything in. Continue to whittle down …
8. Looking After Your Vehicle
Maintaining your motorhome makes good sense. It’s a sizeable investment and investing time in keeping it in good condition pays off. Some of the things you can do. Others will require qualified and trained experts.
Keeping everything in good, clean working order is relatively easy and can be done regularly and you can also schedule a once-a-year once-over. For safety and mechanical items, it’s best to leave the work to the professionals. Today’s motorhomes are complicated beasts and it’s not simply a matter of lifting the hood and making a few tweaks. This would include engine maintenance and tuning, electrical and gas system work and anything that may be covered by your warranty. Ask your local KEA dealer about the range of servicing options on offer.
Getting your motorhome inspected and serviced regularly can ensure you are on top of any issues early before they become expensive problems.
9. Insurance and Registration
The cost of motorhome insurance and motorhome registration fees can vary widely, even depending on which state you are in, so take some time to look into what’s available. Finance and insurance can be packaged up differently depending on your needs. Your local KEA dealer can take you through what’s available.
10. Talk to an Expert
For all of the above and more, it’s definitely worth a chat with your local KEA dealer. Don’t be afraid to walk into the dealership and ask as many questions as you like. We’re not interested in any high-pressure sales tactics; we don’t work like that. The team on the ground are not just experts, they’re motorhome enthusiasts as well, so they don’t mind talking about something they live and breathe.
If you’re about to launch into driving a motorhome for the first time, there are tons of tips for motorhome owners to be found, but the bottom line here is research. Get all the facts you can from as many sources as possible, talk to other owners, go to shows and check out online groups and forums. There’s a lot to think about and it can seem overwhelming. But as with any big journey, the right preparation at the beginning will see you heading down the road with confidence.
At KEA, good journeys are made great by the KEA difference and that means good advice at every step of the way. Make sure you take a look through our Helpful Guides as there is a wealth of information. Best of all, it comes from real life motorhome enthusiasts and experts.