Legal requirements for driving a motorhome

Our previous articles discussed both choosing the right type of motorhome to suit your requirements and choosing the correct layout.  With the recent updates on UK driving licences for those that tow caravans, our final motorhome article focuses on the current legal requirements for driving a motorhome. In a simple explanation, depending on when you gained your UK driving licence, will dictate what weight of motorhome you can drive legally.

Vehicle weight terminology

To understand motorhome weights properly we should be aware of the various terminology used. Annoyingly, many of the abbreviations and acronyms that have been used over the years sound different, but in some cases refer to the same value.

The motorhome weight plate

There are usually 2 weight plates on a motorhome. The first is usually under the bonnet, commonly referred to as the VIN plate, and the second is usually held within the bodywork of the motorhome. The second weight plate is installed by the coach builder. It will have the term “STUFE 2” printed clearly on the plate. The values on this plate will override the values on the vehicle VIN plate. So, for our purposes this is the weight plate we need to pay attention to.

MAM

The maximum authorised mass or MAM is the new designation for Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW).  This is the vehicle’s weight plus the maximum load it can carry. This is usually the first line on the weight plate.

Gross train weight

Usually the second line on a weight plate, the Gross train weight is the MAM of the motorhome plus what it is able to tow.  This may also be referred to as the Gross Combination Weight (GCW) on some older vehicles.

Axle weights

On line 3 and 4 of the weight plate will be the maximum weights allowed over the front and rear axles. Line 3 refers to the front axle and line 4 refers to the rear.  These values will be higher than the MAM of the vehicle. This is to allow various loading combinations of the vehicle. For example, if you load a 1 tonne pallet at the rear of the vehicle, the weight will weigh more on the rear axle, and very little on the front as opposed to loading the same weight through a side door that will add weight on both front and rear evenly.  In the event that a motorhome has twin rear axles, this value will be displayed on line 5 of the weight plate.

Licence categories

Motorhomes that weigh between 3,500Kg (MAM) and 7,500Kg (MAM) will require the driver to have a C1 category on their UK full driving licence.  If you passed your driving test before 1st January 1997, it’s likely you will have the C1 category on your driving licence.  Motorhomes that are over 7,500Kg will require a category C licence. Motorhomes that exceed 3,500Kg are classified as Private HGV by the DVLA and will cost more on road tax.  The good news is if the motorhome weights 3,500Kg or less a standard UK driving licence can be used.

Our range of Bailey Adamo motorhomes are a great example of motorhomes that weigh 3,500kg or less.

Up-plating

Thankfully many motorhome manufacturers these days adjust their motorhomes to be 3,500kg or less to allow drivers with a standard UK full licence to drive legally. The downside is that this can remove some of the payload allocation.  The payload is how much weight you can add into the vehicle. For example, clothes, food and accessories.  If you have category C1, or C on your licence you can have the motorhome up-plated to gain more payload allocation. In some instances, this can be as much as 700Kg.  This is a paper exercise and will require no modification to the motorhome, you will be given a new weight plate for the vehicle and a new V5 to show the new available payload.

If you do not have C, or C1 on your licence you can sit extra driving tests to gain this entitlement. To understand what you can drive check the Gov.uk site here https://www.gov.uk/vehicles-can-drive or of course please feel free to ask our sales teams at SwindonOxford or Reading who will be happy to help

Choosing the correct layout when buying a Motorhome

Touring the UK and Europe is quickly becoming a favourite way of exploring the great outdoors. Motorhomes, campervans or van conversions have everything to provide a comfortable home from home as well as being completely mobile. Indeed, modern motorhomes can be situated off grid in a rural location or as part of a campsite to take advantage of on-site facilities.  If you are considering a motorhome, there are a number of things to think about before you buy.  Our previous article discussed choosing the right type of motorhome to suit your requirements.   Over the next few articles, we will discuss some of the most common questions and queries that newcomers’ ask and this article will focus on choosing the correct layout.  Of course, if you do have any further questions, please feel free to ask our sales teams at Swindon, Oxford or Reading who will be happy to help and answer any questions you have.

Number of people

There are a few constraints involved when choosing any layout for a motorhome. Budget, driving licence restrictions, physical size and the most important element, how many people will use the motorhome.

 

Daytime vs night time

You will hear and see a term called “berths” used on motorhome reviews and listings. This is how many people can sleep comfortably in the motorhome. However, some motorhomes will have a limit on how many people can legally travel in the motorhome whilst on the road. Each travelling passenger must have a seatbelt whilst in transit, so on adverts, listings and reviews, check that the motorhome has the same number of seatbelts as berths. This may commonly be referred to as daytime / night time occupancy. Not all motorhomes provide the same number of seats for number of berths, especially with Campervans or van conversions.  Long side seating could in theory hold 2 or 3 people whilst travelling, but with no seat belts it would be illegal and incredibly dangerous to travel with loose passengers.

Children

If you are taking young children on holiday, make sure that the belted seats are ISO-FIX compatible. This is a standard that seats, seatbelts and vehicle manufacturers adhere to and also give baby seat manufacturers a working template to ensure the seat can be installed safely inside the motorhome. One thing to note, because of the natural layout of a motorhome, it is likely that the baby seats will be physically situated some distance from the cab seats.

Pets

A final point to think of is travelling with pets. It is a legal requirement that when travelling with a dog or other animals, they must be suitably restrained in the vehicle whilst in motion.  This can be tricky in a motorhome as tie down points may not exist, and ISO-FIX seats may not offer the best location for a dog. In this instance, a travelling crate that is secure between seats or tied onto a side dinette can offer a suitable place for secure transport.

We mentioned briefly some constraints when buying a motorhome, along with the number of passengers, another limitation may be driving license restrictions, and that is what we will discuss in the next article.

Choosing the right type of Motorhome

The name motorhome really only focuses on one style of touring vehicle.  In fact, there are many types of motorhomes with many layouts, options and variations and each of them will suit you differently and may also differ when it comes to price.  To understand the differences and some of the features you are likely to find, we have listed the common motorhome types available on the market today.  Here are the options:

Micro motorhomes

 

These van conversions are primarily based upon small vans or people carriers. These micro variants sleep a maximum of 2 people, usually have a pop-up style roof and host a very simple kitchen set up.

Campervans

Popularised by VW, campervans are still very popular even after 50+years since their creation. Campervans nowadays offer sleeping and living accommodation, a small galley kitchen, sometimes a pop-up roof and plenty of storage, all held within the footprint of a small van.  These are very popular with couples and young families and with the addition of a drive away awning make these an ideal touring vehicle.

Van conversions

Bigger than a campervan, large vans are a great base to create a leisure vehicle. With plenty of head space, a separate wet room, blown air heating and bigger kitchens, van conversions are a very popular combination of minimal form factor and optimal usability. These van conversions are completed by both mainstream manufacturers and hobbyists alike. Why not checkout the Adria Twin available at our Swindon branch.

Coach built motorhomes

 

With a cab and chassis from a popular van manufacturer, such as Fiat, the body is created by a leisure vehicle company such as Bailey. With extra width the choice of layouts is vast. A separate washroom, cassette toilet and fixed beds options are available. Coach built motorhomes come in 2 variations. A low-profile version provides enough living and sleeping space for a couple or small family, whereas an over cab bed option creates plenty of sleeping space for a family of up to 6 people. Larger variations of this style of motorhome also come with a separate garage, ideal for storing bikes, outside furniture and awnings.

‘A’ Class motorhomes

 

A larger style of motorhome, where the leisure vehicle manufacturer builds the living area as well as the cab area. The manufacturer takes a bare chassis and builds the entire vehicle from the chassis up.  These A Class motorhomes provide more space, more refinement and bigger storage options. A class motorhomes are nearly always heavier and more expensive than their cab / chassis counterparts.

 

 

These are some of the most common styles of motorhome here in the UK, there are of course American style RVs that offer vast amounts of space, slide out sections and fittings that make the living space a luxurious place to be, however some of the larger vehicles find it difficult to find a pitch on many UK camp sites.

Adria Showcase Weekend: 23rd – 26th Sept

We are now in a position to let you know about our next showcase weekend, this time focusing on the range of caravans from Adria.  Come and visit Swindon Caravans between Thursday 23rd – Sunday 26th September to discover the revamped Alpina (Mississippi & Colorado), the hugely popular Adora (Tiber, Isonzo, Sava & Seine), the entry level Altea (we will only have the Dart on display) and finally the Action.  Unfortunately we will not have a Twin campervan to view but will update you as soon as one arrives on our showground in the not too distant future.

View Adria Caravan Range – Photos, Layouts & Specification

View Adria Twin Campervans – Photos, Layouts & Specification

Pre-order early and secure your new vehicle.  Demand continues to remain strong and there is limited stock available so don’t miss out!

For more information please call the sales teams at any of our 3 branches.  We look forward to seeing you:  Swindon: 01793 772096, Oxford: 01844 339566, Reading: 01189 888111

(Please note we only sell Adria at Swindon so the showcase weekend will only be at Swindon only).

Top 10 Motorhome Accessories

After buying a new motorhome, there are a few items that still need to be purchased to get the most from your new leisure vehicle, but with an endless list of accessories and “must haves” what items should you buy? To help, we have listed our top 10 motorhome accessories that you may not have considered:

Solar Panel

 

Having uninterrupted power away from any electrical hook up is great for any off-grid holidays or day trips. A solar panel can trickle charge a vehicles leisure battery even in moderately cloudy weather. If the motorhome is stored at a secure storage compound, the charged leisure battery will keep any alarm or tracker active and fully operational. Solar panels can come as standard equipment or added on as an optional extra.

 

Avtex TV

A 12v Avtex TV is perfect for viewing TV even when not connected to mains hook up. With an in-built DVD player and with comprehensive connectivity, you can plug further accessories such as Sound bars and USB drives. Different models also have inbuilt Satellite receivers so, you can watch FreeSat with no additional set-top box. And if you subscribe to streaming services, such as Netflix and have WiFi, you can add Smart TV sticks via an HDMI socket, that work directly with the TV. Screen sizes from 18” to 24” mean you can have the perfect TV set up without dominating the interior space.

 

Quest Lakeland Grassmere Swivel back chair

 

This lightweight portable chair adds extra comfort due to its unique swivel back design, allowing you to sit up comfortably or laze back when required. The chair folds down and is stored in a carry bag which can be easily stowed away under a seat or in a locker.

 

 

Steering wheel lock.

 

Visible security items are always a useful deterrent, and in some cases can offer a discount on motorhome insurances, if declared on your policy. This Milenco steering wheel lock fits over the steering wheel and prevents the wheel from moving by blocking the driver’s legs or by resting against the windscreen.

 

 

Filling hose

Once on a campsite, perhaps the first thing to do is fill your motorhome with fresh water. Many service points do come with a short hose, but it’s always recommended to carry your own hose for times there is no dedicated motorhome service point available. This food-grade hose and attachment folds flat when not in use and comes with a variety of attachments to allow easy connection to any fresh water tap.

 

 

Maypole Lithium – Ion Power bank

This universal power bank can recharge any USB powered device including phones and tablets, but also can provide a boost if the vehicle battery has become flat. This power bank is small, lightweight and very useful around the motorhome.

 

 

Cadac BBQ

Outdoor eating couldn’t be easier with the Cadac range of grills and accessories. Cadac has a selection of grills that are gas-powered and in a variety of sizes to suit your own needs. For large families, the Carry Chef 2 will provide a large surface, whereas the Safari Chef can easily accommodate 2 people. The grills are easily broken down, easy to clean and can be run from an onboard gas outlet or individual gas canisters.

 

 

Torches

 

Having a torch to hand is always very useful. This Lil Larry torch with 250 lumens provides a bright white beam to light up your path or item that requires more light. This is a perfect addition to any motorhome for attending to services at night or looking in locker or cupboard corners.

 

 

Waterless wash & wax

 

Removing traffic dirt, mud or other organic deposits can be easily done using Greased Lightening waterless wash and wax. This product does not require running water instead, can be sprayed on and wiped off leaving a clean waxy surface that will repeal any further contaminants.
Use this with a microfibre cloth, to keep the motorhome looking fresh and clean.

 

Wind break

Providing a break from any light breeze can be easily achieved by erecting one of these Kampa Air windbreaks. Being an air windbreak means this can be erected quickly and easily, without the need for hammering stakes in the ground and they can be stored in a small space when not required. The Kampa Air Windbreak comes complete with pegs, guylines and a pump.

 

So, here’s our top 10 motorhome accessories. Other notable mentions include toilet chemicals, a pair of levelling ramps and a stovetop kettle. As I’m sure you can agree there is a wide variety of accessories available for anyone who owns a motorhome or caravan and for further inspiration or to purchase any of the items above, why not pop into our accessories shops at either Swindon, Oxford or Reading Caravan & Motorhome centre.

What do you need to know before buying a motorhome?

range of motorhomes parked together

What do you need to know before buying a motorhome?  Here’s our 10 point guide.

1. What type of motorhome should I buy?

To keep things simple we’ll try and group motorhomes into 3 subcategories.  Compact campervans or larger van conversions are usually adapted from small or larger panel vans, such as our Adria Twins.  Their versatility makes them great for supporting active hobbies, holidays & attending festivals.  They are also easy to park and potentially store on the drive at home.  Coachbuilt motorhomes have a caravan-like body built onto a chassis cab, such as our Bailey motorhomes.  They tend to be bigger, have more space and better insulation for all year round use.  Finally, there are the top of range class A motorhomes which have a fully coach-built body and therefore no separate cab.  These vehicles are designed for long trips away and come with the highest level of specification.  If you’re still unsure which type of motorhome would suit you best, pop into our dealerships or perhaps consider hiring a vehicle before buying.

2. What is the best motorhome for the money?

It really depends on your requirements and how you intend to use the vehicle.  The larger van conversions have proved very popular in recent years due to their versatility.  They can double as the family’s first or second car and remain parked on the drive so you can use them quickly for a weekend break or support your outdoor pursuits and interests.  The other motorhomes on the market tend to be used for holidays of a week or more and are equipped with more of your home comforts but will usually be kept in storage yards away from your house which adds to the cost (approximately £5-10 per week depending on the security arrangements at the storage yard).  We might be biased but we feel the Adria Twin and our Bailey motorhomes are 2 of the best examples in each category.

3. How much does a brand new motorhome cost in the UK?

The top of the range class A motorhomes can command a fee far in excess of £100,000 but that is at the top end of the market.  New coach-built motorhomes tend to cost between £50,000 and £90,000 on average depending on the size and specification whilst the van conversions range between approximately £45,000 and £65,000.  As you begin to use your vehicle, your RV will depreciate in a similar manner to your car so consider factors such as mileage, service history and the general condition of the vehicle.

4. Do I need a special driving license?

In general the answer is no, most drivers can drive most motorhomes on a standard license including motorhomes of up to 7500kg.  There is however a limit of 3500kg to all drivers over the age of 70 or a driver licensed since 1st January 1997 unless a medical test or additional test is passed.  These rules concerning your driving license apply to towing caravans as well.

5. Is a difficult to drive a motorhome?

It is no harder than driving a car, particularly the smaller compact caravans or van conversions.  You will need to get accustomed to when driving the larger motorhomes due to their size and visibility.  There are motorhome manoeuvring courses available if you wanted to build your confidence which lasts for a day and are ideal for beginners.

6. Do motorhomes require seat belts for their rear seats?

Seat belts must be fitted and worn in the front seats of motorhomes and most manufacturers fit seat belts to forward facing designated travel seats in the rear.  If seat belts have been fitted to the rear seats then they must be worn.  Seat belts can be fitted to sideways facing designated passenger seats.  Although not illegal, travelling in these seats is not recommended.

7. Can I use my motorhome ‘off grid’?

Yes, you can!  In most cases, your RV will run without any issues on a combination of a 12V battery and gas for a couple of days.  Perfect for a festival or weekend away.  If you are off grid then check how much gas is left in your bottle before you depart because heating the vehicle and powering the fridge will use your supply quickly.  The 12V battery will charge when the motorhome is being driven or it can be topped up using a solar panel.

8. What pitch should I choose when I book a campsite?

This will depend on the size of your motorhome so best to check with the campsite before booking.  In general hardstanding pitches are more suitable but if using grass then check the ground before you drive on to it by digging gin your heel.  Inclement weather in the winter months could make it difficult to leave!

9. What additional motorhome accessories should I order?

There are a number of options but it also comes down to your budget.  You don’t know where a puncture or blow out could strike so fitting Tyron band flat tyre protection can be very useful, particularly if you intend to head ‘off grid’.  Another option would be to fit a spare wheel carrier and spare wheel in case of emergencies.  Bike racks are incredibly popular with motorhome users to save space inside the vehicle.  Other popular add-ons include Diamondbrite which protects your motorhome both inside and out, a Tracker Retrieve System to protect against theft or accidental damage and an awning which is an excellent way to increase your living space at a fraction of the cost.

10. Can I finance a motorhome?

There are a number of flexible finance packages on the market to suit your requirements.   You could potentially finance a motorhome over 10 years with a hire purchase agreement.  Another option is to use PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) where monthly payments can be kept lower by deferring a significant proportion of the amount of credit to the final payment at the end of the agreement.  Using PCP, the Guaranteed Future Value of your vehicle can be calculated and when you are approaching the end of the agreement you will have 3 options – part exchange the motorhome, pay the final lump sum payment to own the vehicle or simply return the unit to the finance company.  Call our sales teams if you wish to have your finance options explained.

For staycation ideas and general all-round convenience, a new motorhome is a great way to tour the country in style. Get in touch if you have any more questions.

Book an Appointment with our Sales Teams

Book a private viewing appointment with our sales teams for when we reopen in December.  We are currently quoting and paying more than usual for any part exchanges against 2021 orders in order to increase our used stock.  If you would like to make an appointment to view a caravan or motorhome, please email the sales teams or fill out the short form below and one of our team will be in touch to confirm:

Contact Swindon:  Email sales@swindoncaravans.com

Contact Oxford:  Email sales@oxfordcaravans.com

Contact Reading:  Email sales@readingcaravans.com

Book an Appointment

Receive £500 Vouchers on any New or Used Caravan or Motorhome*

We are currently offering £500 vouchers when you purchase any new or used caravan or motorhome over £7,000 until 31st March 2020.* 

We operate a very competitive dealership and this offer is on top of our already discounted prices!

Vouchers can be spent on any product or service available across all 3 branches in Swindon, Oxford & Reading.  So if you were looking to add a 3 year service plan, a motor mover or perhaps an awning to your caravan, this would be a great time.

View over 350 new & used caravans & motorhomes for sale across our 3 branches and of course online.  We’re sure to have something to suit your budget & requirement.

We will pay competitive prices for your caravan or motorhome, whether you are selling or looking to part exchange.

Call our sales teams today in Swindon 01793 772096, Oxford 01844 339566 & Reading 01189 888111

 

* £500 voucher offer excludes new 2019 Lunar Caravans.  Offer applies to new sales between 1st March – 31st March

NEC Caravan & Motorhome Show: 18th – 23rd Feb

The NEC Caravan & Motorhome Show starts this Tuesday 18th February.

All the major manufacturers will be there displaying their new caravans & motorhomes for the 2020 season.  And as usual our sales teams will also be there wearing their green shirts.  You won’t miss them!  This is a great time for any prospective buyer to delve into the market and take advantage of the offers available.  Our sales teams will be sharpening their pencils so be sure to contact them if you want a great deal.  And don’t forget, we are able to match any show offers and deals at any of our 3 branches for the duration of the NEC Show:

Finance:

Our NEC show finance rates will be 7.2% APR on advances under £30,000 and 6.9% APR on advances over £30,000.  Available at the show or in branch.  Please note this rate will cease at the close of business on Sunday 23rd February.

Bailey:

  • Bailey are currently offering FREE DELIVERY worth £565 when you order a 2020 Bailey caravan before Sunday 23rd February.
  • Bailey’s caravan range for the 2020 season has been enhanced with the introduction of the must see Alicanto & Discovery ranges.  Their motorhomes are equally popular, with their flagship and top of the range Autograph sure to be the star attraction!
  • We will have 4 of our sales team on Bailey, please call their mobile whilst at the show to make an appointment or else just grab them, they’ll be wearing their green shirts:
      • Alistair Cruickshanks on caravans (Oxford branch, telephone on 07422 666546)
      • Steve Watts on caravans (Swindon branch, telephone on 07421 719883)
      • Simon Barnett-Higgins on caravans (Reading branch, telephone on 07421 041253)
      • Jaydon Welch on motorhomes (Reading branch, telephone tbc)

Swift:

  • We will have 2 of our sales team on Swift, once again please give them a call for an appointment or else find them when you’re at the show:
  • Swift are currently offering the following deals when you order a 2020 Swift caravan before Sunday 23rd February:
    • Cashback to the value of £1250 on all 2020 Elegance & Elegance Grande.
    • Cashback to the value of £1000 on all 2020 Challenger, Challenger X, Eccles & Eccles X.
    • Cashback to the value of £750 on all Vogue, Sprite & Super Sprite.
    • Free Vango Airbeam Awning RRP £925 on all Basecamp.
    • Plus, all caravans will receive a free Yuasa leisure battery worth £310.

We run an extremely competitive dealership and will always try and get you the best possible deal.  It is worth speaking to any of our team, whether at the NEC or in branch, to see what deal we can do for you.  We hope to see you soon.

Motorhomes now for sale at Reading Caravan & Motorhome Centre

New for this season you can now view both new & used motorhomes at the Reading Caravan & Motorhome Centre.  We are very excited by this opportunity and feel it is a natural progression to enhance our product portfolio.

New Motorhomes

We have teamed up with Bailey and for the 2020 season will be displaying their 3 ranges on the forecourt in Reading, please come along and let us know what you think!  The Bailey Autograph is their flagship range, offering a level of unrivalled comfort and sophistication.  The Bailey Alliance offers 7 layouts all on a 3500kg chassis making them available to all full UK license holders.  And finally, the Bailey Advance features 9 layouts and is built on the ever-popular Peugeot Boxer 130hp Euro 6 cab.

Check out our stock online, have a look at our prices and save up to £3,085 on a new motorhome!

Here is our branch manager Simon explaining some of the key benefits of the new Bailey Alliance Silver Edition, focusing on the 76-4T model.  We’ll have more videos to follow!

 

Used Motorhomes

Come and view our used motorhomes on the sales forecourt in Reading.  We only have a limited amount at present but are looking to increase this quickly which is the reason for some excellent savings across our new motorhomes, to attract more part-exchanges!  Please note we accept both caravans and motorhomes in part exchange.