Ordering and Accepting Your Van

So you have done all the research and are now ready to order your caravan. But have you researched the warranty on the van. I would suggest that you ask the salesman you intend to purchase the caravan from for a blank order form so that you can take it home and study it. Read it carefully. For instance there may be a 12 months warranty but what is excluded and where is the warranty honoured? If you have a problem in say Darwin will you have to return the caravan to Sydney to have work done under warranty or does the manufacturer have warranty agents around the country?

Make sure you are familiar and accept the terms and conditions of the contract. Remember you are signing a legally binding contract. A verbal “we’ll fix it” is not binding.

You should ensure that everything you wish included or excluded in your new van is written into the contract. You can add attachments and even photos as attachments to your contract if required. Consider this example, you specify a water heater. What you wanted was a 240 volt/gas heater but what was fitted was a gas only water heater. Have you any recourse, not really as you did not accurately describe your requirement in the contract. Be specific and thorough.

Do not rely on so called “industry standards”. These are a myth, there are no such standards. There are certain  Australian standards that are applicable to manufacturers. These are:

I would very strongly urge you to specify electrical wiring size for the various 12 volt circuits in the van as this is one area that the caravan industry as a whole seems to have a problem with and is not covered by any “standard”. One caravan salesman stated to me “that will carry 50 amps” when I queried why the Anderson plug was wired with only 6mm diameter automotive wire. The 50 amps just meant that it was rated to carry that current before the insulation melted which has no bearing on the voltage drop that would have occurred over such a length. Read Collyn Rivers excellent article on cabling.

You have signed the contract, paid the deposit and waited for delivery. Then you get the call from the salesman “your van is ready come and pick it up”. Don’t rush into it!

With contract and specifications in hand your first task should be to ensure that the van is exactly as ordered. If it is not don’t accept delivery until any issues are rectified or you reach written agreement on the steps that will be taken to rectify any issues.

Then check the van thoroughly for obvious faults. For instance is there water in the tanks, if not how could the water system have been checked?

Once you are satisfied that the van is as per the contract and no obvious faults exist only then should you accept delivery and pay the balance outstanding. You will have probably waited a considerable time to take delivery of your van so why not wait a few more days to get any issues resolved before you accept delivery.

Your next move should be to go and use the van for a week or two, this could show up issues that were not evident at delivery. Make a list of any issues and let the dealer know immediately.

The advice in this article was written after talking to many caravan owners about issues they had when ordering or taking delivery of their van.

updated 19/11/2011

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