What to expect from us if you are new to caravanning?

Since reopening on 1st June, we’ve certainly seen a large influx of people who are entering the caravan market for the first time.  This is fantastic news for the industry and for tourism in the UK as people look to holiday here and not abroad.

We’ve put together a check sheet to help you through the entire process; from choosing the right caravan to suit your requirements and placing a deposit through to what you might expect on the day of collection & our Aftersales service thereafter.  Please note that whilst most of these processes remain the same, some have been adapted due to Coronavirus.  We have social distancing measures in place across all 3 branches for your protection.

New to Caravanning? Part 9 – Glossary


Below is a list of common phrases that are used in and around caravans:


A frame – The triangular shaped section at the front of the caravan. The Hitch, handbrake, electric cable and Jockey wheel can be found here

AL-KO ATC – An electronic stability device that can be fitted to caravans to help prevent snaking, this is an optional extra on some caravans(Assisted Trailer Control).

Awning – A tent like structure that fits to the side of a caravan and extends the living space of the caravan. Awnings use either poles or air beams to hold them up.

Awning rail – The rail on the side of the caravan into which the awning slides.

Awning skirt – A long piece of plastic that is used as a draft extractor between the base of the caravan and the awning.


Bed boxes – The storage space under the seats of a caravan. Heaters and water tanks can usually be found under these. Continue Reading »

New to Caravanning? Part 8 – Caravan Servicing

Caravan Servicing

A caravan service should be completed on or just before the anniversary of when you purchased the caravan. Although there is no legal requirement for you to have the caravan serviced, it is highly recommended. A caravan has several elements that if left unchecked could pose a danger to the occupants or fellow road users.  In order to maintain your warranty, manufacturers and finance companies will ask that the caravan is serviced annually and in a good state of repair. Continue Reading »

New to Caravanning? Part 7 – After Sales

After Sales

Sometimes things go wrong and, in that instance, our After Sales teams should be your first point of call. Of course, the nature of any breakage or fault could be covered by a manufacturer or extended warranty. In this section we discuss how we will take care of any breakage or fault and let you know what to expect.

Warranty work & repairs

As mentioned, our After sales team should be the initial contact for any issues that you may have.  We are here to help and where possible we can give you expert advice or information if you are using the caravan on site. We will endeavour to give you advice on the phone, but when we need to see you, we will ask you to bring the caravan to one of our branches at your convenience.

Once we have the caravan, we can assess the issue and where required make an estimate on the work involved for the issue to be resolved. For easy fixes or small issues, we can usually have the caravan fixed and back with you quite quickly. However, for more complex issues and for occasions where parts are required we will advise you on the estimated time scales.

Depending on the time of year and the nature of the repair, some timescales can seem quite long. In that instance we will work with you and keep you up to date on the availability of parts for your caravan repair.

If it is agreed that the repair is to be a warranty claim, we will contact the warranty issuer on your behalf and complete the works as necessary. Once our team of engineers have completed the work, we will contact you and arrange for you to inspect the repair and collect your caravan.

Repairs & non-warranty work

If the work is outside the scope of warranty, such as accidental damage or simply not covered by any warranty, we will give you an estimate detailing the costs of parts and labour and arrange at your convenience to have the caravan booked in for the repair to take place.

Upgrades and additional equipment

In some cases, you may want equipment added to your caravan. Items such as motor movers, air conditioning units or extra power sockets. In the case of upgrades or additional equipment being added, we recommend you speak with our sales team who will be best placed to discuss your requirements and make recommendations to you on the equipment you would like added.

Our After Sales teams will also book in and handle caravan servicing. In the next section we will discuss the importance of a caravan service and why you should have one on your caravan.

New to Caravanning? Part 6 – Collection Day

Collection Day

The collection day of your new caravan is an important milestone. There is lots to take in and it can be quite overwhelming. With that said, you may wonder what to expect on the big day. There are several steps that you will be guided through to make sure you are happy with your new purchase and in this section, we will give you some idea of what to expect.

Before you arrive

If you are buying your very first caravan, please make sure you bring your drivers licence and your current V5 document for the towing car. We will require this to make the number plate on the caravan.

Also, don’t forget to bring some ID with you and proof of your address if you are purchasing the caravan on finance. If you are not using finance to purchase or have obtained finance elsewhere make sure you have arranged the appropriate method of payment.

Finally, please make sure you arrive at the dealership at your appointment time. This timeslot will have been agreed with you by our sales team prior to collection. In the summer we are very busy, so it is imperative that if there any issues with your appointment you call us as soon as you can.

On the day

Swindon's despatch manager Dean
Swindon’s despatch manager Dean

Once you arrive, make yourself known to the sales team who will then introduce you to the dispatch team.

Our dispatch team will give an in-depth tour of the caravan demonstrating the features and facilities. You will be shown how the caravan works and answering any questions you may have.

We appreciate there is a lot of information to take in, so we will take our time to make sure you understand the various parts of the caravan. You will also notice the caravan will be warm, have fresh water connected and this allows you to see the caravan functioning prior to you leaving.

Once you are happy with the caravan you will be invited to bring your towing car to the caravan and a demonstration of hitching up in a safe and legal manor will be completed.

After the demonstration and tour of the caravan has been completed, the sales team will go through any documentation such as warranty information of any accessories you have had installed and caravan registration.

Depending on how you are funding this purchase, the balance will now be paid. If it’s a finance agreement, the instruction will commence on this date, but if you have already sourced an alternative funding option you will be asked to settle the outstanding balance at this point.

After collection

Once you leave we highly recommend taking your caravan away to a local caravan site for a couple of nights to test the caravan in your own time and space.

Check out this video which follows Dan’s purchase of his new Bailey Ridgeway on collection day:

Collection day can be an overwhelming time and key information can be forgotten. If something isn’t right or you simply cannot recall how something should work, please do give us a call so we can guide you through any issues you may have.

Sometimes things don’t go right, in the next part we will discuss the after sales department, how they can help if something is broken or worn out and what you can expect from us in that instance.

New to Caravanning? Part 5 – Deposit through to Collection

If you have placed a deposit on a caravan, perhaps a first-time purchase or a part exchange on a newer model, you will be eagerly awaiting the collection date and possibly wondering what happens in between the deposit being paid and the collection of the caravan.

In this section we will lift the lid on what takes place behind the scenes at Swindon Caravans and share some key steps along the way with either one of our pre-loved caravans or a brand-new model.

Deposit paid

This is the point where you have selected the ideal caravan for your needs. Up to this point you may have chatted with the sales team, discussed your requirements and chosen your perfect caravan.

The sales team will also advise on what accessories the vehicle comes with or would benefit from.  A comprehensive pack, including the sales invoice and some handy literature will be handed over to you. Details of any special deals on starter packs, extended warranty options and 3 year service plans will be discussed with you and if the vehicle is already on-site, such as a pre-loved caravan or an end of season new caravan, you can expect to have a collection date arranged there and then.

If you require caravan finance, this can be agreed in principle too and our sales team will demonstrate how the finance package works and discuss repayment options including HP or a PCP agreement.

Vehicle secured / Vehicle ordered

new caravan delivery from bailey

If the caravan is on the forecourt the caravan will be secured and a “sold” sign placed in the window. If this caravan is a part exchange and equipment needs transferring over, details will be printed on the sold sign. The caravan will then be moved and parked within the secure compound on site ready for the next phase of work.

However, if you have purchased a brand-new caravan the vehicle will be ordered from the manufacturer and depending on the time of year will depend on how soon the caravan will be on site. The sales team will contact you and discuss / arrange a collection date once they know the arrival date of the caravan.

Once the new caravan has been delivered it too will be taken to our secure compound with details in its window and will be ready for the next step in the process.


Engineer Luis carrying out a PDI

The next big step in the process for all our caravans is the PDI check. The “Pre-Delivery Inspection” is a thorough inspection of the caravan, the systems and features. The inspection also incorporates a service on the caravan, to ensue all moving parts are correctly greased, all safety items have been checked and the systems such as heating, hot water and battery charging all work correctly. Though this will not affect new caravans, any items that need work, replacing or adjusting will be corrected at this stage.

Accessories and extras

Fitting a motor mover

Once the caravan has been given the all clear and has passed our exhaustive PDI process, the caravan can now have its accessories and extras that you have asked for fitted. Items such as motor moverstyron bands and any specialised equipment will be installed by one of our trained technicians on site.

Once installed a final inspection of all the fittings will be performed to confirm they meet our standards.

Dispatch team

Cleaning and preparing the caravan
Cleaning and preparing the caravan

Just before collection the caravan will be handed over to our dispatch team who will clean the caravan inside and out. If selected, the caravan will also be given protective coatings such as DiamondBrite to the fabric and the exterior of the caravan.

Once complete the paperwork of all the works carried out will be processed and be prepared for the collection day.

Collection day

Collection day is a big occasion and there are several things that need to be taken care of, not least the payment of the caravan.

In the next section we will go through the collection day, detail what you should bring with you, and share what to expect when you arrive.

New to Caravanning? Part 4 – Why Part Exchange?

Why part Exchange?

Changing for a new caravan, either bigger, smaller or newer is an exciting time. One question that is often asked is ‘Why should I part exchange my current caravan?” In this page we will outline some useful reasons why part exchanging a caravan may be beneficial as part of the purchasing process.

It’s not all about the money

There is no doubt that if you sell your caravan privately you can obtain a higher asking price. Part exchanging a caravan is not about the money, but if a private sale is on the cards, be aware that advertising a caravan for sale can cost money, take up valuable time and at the end of this process there is no guarantee that the caravan will sell.

It is also rare that you will get the price you are asking for when selling privately. It’s almost certain that a buyer will want to haggle the price down, find fault and demand some sort of discount from what you are asking.

And, as mentioned above, it takes time.  Keeping it clean, having all paperwork ready, preparing to answer and demonstrate all the parts of the caravan to a new owner and making time for potential buyers to visit your home. Which leads us onto another consideration.

Storage wars

For owners that keep caravans in storage yards, selling caravans on site is often prohibited. Allowing members of the public in and around a storage compound can be a risk to the storage yard security arrangements. So, owners who want to sell the caravan will need to move the caravan to another location to sell.

For many, bringing a caravan back home isn’t an option so selling in a mutual public location would seem the logical answer. However, think carefully if you are selling a caravan in a layby or car park. And if you are buying from such a location, ask the seller why.


One key benefit of part exchanging a caravan is having some equipment transferred by the dealership to your new purchase. Items that include motor movers, leisure batteries, gas bottles, trackers, in fact any feature you have added to the caravan can be moved by a professional team to the new caravan.

This will form part of the deal when buying a new caravan, so do check in with the sales team to ensure that any specifics you have can be moved across.

Transfer of belongings

New caravan vs old caravan!
New caravan vs old caravan!

The real benefit of part exchanging a caravan is the collection day of the new caravan. You can arrive at one of our locations with your current caravan, be shown around the new purchase, and be left to transfer your personal belongings to your new caravan. When you are finished you can leave with your new caravan hitched up, loaded with your possessions and ready for a new adventure. This means your home will not be filled with all your personal belongings, such as bedding, water & waste containers, BBQ parts and the essential boules set.


A part exchange is a hassle-free method of dealing with your existing caravan. Taking the stress away from selling a caravan privately, allowing the exchange of installed equipment and being able to take time to move possessions across from one caravan to another all contribute to a comprehensive list of benefits and positive reasons to part exchange your current caravan.

For more information about part exchange and a quotation on the trade in value of your current caravan, contact us, or pop in and speak with our sales team, who can run through more details with you.

Dan Trudgian recently uploaded a video discussing his decision to part exchange his current caravan for a brand-new model. Check out his video here:

In the next section we will discuss what happens next once you have chosen your prefect caravan and have placed your deposit.

New to Caravanning? Part 3 – Caravan Finance

Caravan Finance

In recent years the popularity of PCP or Personal Contract Purchase has sky rocketed for those who are buying new cars. But interestingly, PCP has only recently been introduced to the leisure industry. In this section, we will guide you through the differences between Hire Purchase (HP) and PCP, their benefits and any pitfalls worth considering with either method as a funding option. This is not financial advice but information about various the funding schemes, at the bottom of this page are links to documents that will help you further.

Personal Contract Purchase

PCP was introduced to the caravan industry in September 2016, it had previously been available for those purchasing a motorhome, but for caravans this was a new concept. What exactly is PCP? how does it work and are there any pitfalls?

PCP is like Hire Purchase (HP) with one significant difference. A significant bulk of the credit is deferred to the end of the agreement. This keeps the monthly payments low. Like HP you don’t own the caravan until the final payment is made and, because there is a large balloon payment at the end of the term you are unlikely to opt for this option. More on this later. In fact, to be clear, you are renting the caravan from the finance company in a “use not own” concept.

Like HP you can make an upfront payment. A deposit. Then over an agreed timescale you make regular fixed payments. At the end of the contract you have three options:

  1. You can return the caravan and simply walk away, and make no further payments.
  2. You can make a final “balloon” payment to pay off the outstanding finance and gain ownership of the caravan.
  3. You return the caravan and part exchange it for a brand-new caravan and continue with a new PCP plan, using equity in the caravan as a deposit.

PCP monthly payments are calculated by the size of the deposit and length of the contract. The final balloon payment is calculated by the deposit, monthly payments and the predicted of the value of the caravan at the end of the agreement.

PCP is a great way to “use and not own” a brand-new caravan. It is a great way to have a new caravan every few years and PCP is flexible because of what happens at the end of the contract. It is ideally suited to those who are not sure what to do at the end of the finance. Sounds almost too good to be true, right?

There are a few things to be aware of however. PCP is currently only available for brand-new caravans; Also, Caravans must be fully insured and must be annually serviced by NCC approved workshops to ensure the condition and running order of the caravan is in good order. If you are likely to want to keep the caravan, PCP will require you to make a large payment at the end of the term. You will need to pay this.

If you do decide to return the caravan at the end of the agreement, the caravan must be returned in a “Good Condition” a full explanation of what is regarded as good condition can be found here.

Hire Purchase

Hire Purchase is very straight forward. You pay a relatively low deposit on your chosen caravan at the start of the agreed timescale. The timescale is agreed up front and this along with the deposit amount will affect the amount of the monthly repayments. You can agree repayment terms of 1 to 10 years.

Like PCP you will not own the caravan until the finance is repaid in full. The benefit of HP over PCP is you will own the caravan at the end of the contract and have no balloon payment to make.

Another key benefit of HP over PCP is that Hire Purchase is available for second hand caravans, whereas PCP is only available for brand new models.

For details and examples of Hire Purchase, how much it will cost you, please visit contact us or pop into one of our branches where we will be more than happy to show you how the various finance options work.


As we mentioned this isn’t financial advice, but if you are interested in obtaining finance you can find out more information on PCP or HP, how it works and for some quotations from any of our branches, where our sales team can run through some actual figures on specific models on our forecourt. Also, you can head on over to the Black Horse Finance website, where more examples and other funding options are compared.

In the next section we will discuss why part exchanging your existing caravan may be a great stress-free solution for you. If you don’t have an existing caravan maybe you would like to know more about what happens next once a deposit is paid.

Swindon, Oxford and Reading Caravans Ltd are licensed credit brokers offering finance from Black Horse and other providers and may receive commission for this service.

New to Caravanning? Part 2 – Safe & Legal Towing

Safe & Legal Towing

There are a couple of things to consider before placing a deposit on a new caravan. You will need to ensure that you can legally tow you chosen caravan and that your car can tow the caravan. However, don’t worry. Although they need considerations we can help disperse any concerns or fears of legal and safe towing. In this section we will discuss the legal implications of towing, and discuss the safety of towing with your car.

Your driving licence

Since December 2021, the UK law regarding towing has been updated. Previously if you passed your driving test after 1st January 1997 you could only tow with a combined weight (Car and trailer) of 3,500Kg which did limit the choice of caravans that you could tow with your car. However, since December 2021, the law has changed, and UK driving licence holders now have category BE added to their driving licenses. This means that you can tow a trailer up to 3,500Kg.

This now means that the vast majority of caravans are available for anyone to tow. Indeed, the heaviest caravan will only weigh around 2,000Kg with a variation of specification and size.

For more information and to check what your driving licence entitles you to drive, visit the Gov.uk site :


Safe towing

M4 linking Swindon & Reading Caravans

A second check that needs to be completed is the ability of your car to a caravan. Our sales team can take the details of your towing vehicle and match it to your chosen caravan. The whole process is known as outfit matching and the following areas are taken into consideration:

Gross vehicle weight

This is the total mass of the car with occupants, fuel and payload. This value can be found on the cars VIN plate.

Gross train weight

Again, this can be found on the vehicles VIN plate and this weight dictates the total weight of the car and caravan.

Max towing capacity

The car manufacturer will have a maximum value of what the car is capable of towing. This can be calculated like this:

Max towing capacity = Gross vehicle weight – Gross Train Weight

Nose weight

This is the maximum weight that will bear down on the tow bar, again dictated by the car manufacturer and the tow bar manufacturer.

If all this sounds too complicated, don’t worry. Our sales team will simply take the details of your car (i.e) the make, model and age, and compare it to your chosen caravan. A report is generated and you will clearly see how well your towing vehicle compares to the caravan.

You may have also heard a phrase titled “The 85% rule”. This is not legislation, but a recommendation or “rule of thumb”. The recommendation states that a fully loaded caravan should not be more than 85% of the kerb weight of the tow car. If your chosen outfit does not quite match up, our sales team will be able to advise you with recommendations on vehicle variants, or similar caravan models that may also help.

Towing Courses

In all cases, if you are inexperienced in towing we highly recommend you attend a towing course to cover the basics on safe towing. We recommend the following driver training schools:

Swindon:  KJC Driver Training  Tel: 0845 8051678 / 07847 182521  OR  GML Driver Training  Tel: 07414 759290

Oxford:  Trailer Training UK.  Tel: 0345 2602508 or 01235 375220

Reading:  Martins Driving Academy.  Tel: 0800 614745 or 07976 263450

New to Caravanning? Part 1 – Choosing the Correct Caravan

Choosing a caravan can be quite an overwhelming process, certainly if you are new to caravanning. Our aim is to guide you through our process from selecting the correct caravan to suit your requirements through to its collection and your very first adventure.

Of course, choosing the correct caravan is essential and your circumstances will dictate which caravan will best suit your needs. You will appreciate there are many manufacturers, lots of accessories and many different caravan layouts; all with a variety of features.

Sliming your requirements into a short list or shopping list can be a challenge and will create many questions. Thankfully our knowledgeable team can help guide and answer any questions you have in the decision-making process.

We are proud to sell new Bailey, Lunar & Swift caravans across our three locations and have a large stock of pre-loved models. Each brand has a very different look and feel and as you browse our ranges of caravans you will notice elements that are common across the entire range. It is important to remember that our Sales team can demonstrate the various features of the caravans, answer any questions and queries you may have to make sure you are getting the correct caravan for your needs.

Where to start

A great starting point is to limit your search on the correct number of people you need to accommodate. For example, choosing a 2-berth caravan for a family of 4 simply won’t work.

To help further we have arranged our forecourts in Swindon, Oxford and Reading by caravan layout and you will be free to walk in and around any of the caravans that are for sale. As you visit each caravan you may start to notice familiarities between manufacturers and specification levels. This is a great time to start listing what you like and dislike on each model.

Making lists is a great way of narrowing your search providing a discussion point with our team. For example, if you love a layout but dislike the colour scheme, we may be able to point you in a new direction and consider an unseen model.

On any of the caravans that you will see on our forecourt you can ask for a demonstration of features that the caravan has, how they work and discuss any benefits or drawbacks that they may have with your specific requirements.

If you require further help and guidance we recommend purchasing some magazines. Two notable publications exist, Caravan Magazine and Practical Caravan.  Both offer comprehensive content on purchasing a caravan along with reviews and inspiration on places to visit.

Dan Trudgian created a video sharing how his family started searching for a new caravan.  In this video Dan shares some hints and tips for including the family and making a sensible list of caravan requirements.

In the next part we will look closely at matching your car to your chosen caravan, discuss any legal implications and give you some guidance for when you are shopping for a caravan.