For many Kiwis, dusting off the old tent from last summer and setting off on an adventure is the highlight of their year.

Others absolutely dread waking up in a tent, and that’s where motorhomes come in. The only issue… the price. Buying new can cost anywhere from $85,000 for a built up van to $300,000 for the ultimate motorhome machine.

Of course, for those on a tighter budget a used motorhome is the only option. With so many used motorhomes on the market, it’s important you know exactly what you’re purchasing to get the best bang for buck.


The most popular destinations for these vehicles tend to be coastal or high mountain ranges, so it is particularly important to pay attention not just to the structure, but also underneath the vehicle. Check for corrosion on the chassis, the hitch and suspension as these repairs can be costly. Look for inconsistencies in the paintwork as well as overuse of sealant as this may be covering something a tad more serious.


Much like a house, as these vehicles become older, the seals and rubber components that keep the water out can deteriorate and the interior fittings can suffer. If possible, have a look at the vehicle on a rainy day to discover any leaks. If you don’t have this option, look for dampness or check out the interior’s woodwork as this can swell and in more extreme cases, begin to rot. Mold and mildew are also warning signs to look out for.

Interior, appliances and accessories

All fittings inside motorhomes are certified by the manufacturer or through a low volume vehicle certifier to be considered safe for New Zealand roads. Apart from minor interior adjustments, if you wish to do some serious modifications to alter the interior, it will require re-certification. Ensure the size of the vehicle is going to meet your needs, keeping in mind no motorhome is a four bedroom house.

As for the equipment, take your time to ensure everything is up to scratch. Check the operation of the oven, fridge, shower, plumbing, sockets and gas cylinder. It might be worth getting everything checked by a qualified electrician for extra peace of mind.


First and foremost, ensure the motorhome has a current Warrant of Fitness (WoF) or Certificate of Fitness (CoF) if the vehicle is over 3.5 tonnes. The vehicle might also require an electrical or gas certificate so check these are valid. The next step is to investigate the service history, which is extremely important for vehicles susceptible to high kilometres. Check when the vehicle was last serviced, tyres replaced and of course when the timing belt was changed. Check for smoke, oil leaks, service stickers and general wear and tear. If in doubt, a pre-purchase check carried out by a qualified mechanic will help erase concerns.

Test Drive

As with all vehicle purchases, we recommend taking the motorhome for a thorough test drive before opening your wallet. If this is your first time behind the wheel of a large vehicle, you may want the owner to be a co-pilot on this drive. Turn the music off, ease the conversation and listen for anything out of the ordinary, including the living quarters behind you. With the long drives ahead, comfort should be a top priority. Spend some extra time taking it for a good drive, and feel free to take the kids along to ensure everyone will be a happy camper.

Much like buying a house, the process of buying a motorhome can be time-consuming, do your homework and take your time to thoroughly check over prospective rigs. These steps alone will go a long way in ensuring you end up with a motorhome that will bring you great pleasure down the road.

How can AA Motoring help?

If the motorhome you are considering is less than 3.5 tonnes, AA Motoring recommends booking an AA Pre Purchase Inspection for some added peace of mind. Click here for more information and to book.

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