If you are thinking of buying an Auto-Sleeper motorhome, you are unlikely to find anything better when it comes to your choice of large or small, luxuriously spacious or nimbly manoeuvrable, or for want of options when it comes to the layout of your ultimate leisure vehicle.

Indeed, you are likely to be so spoiled for choice that making a final decision seems overwhelming. So, what are some of the considerations likely to come into play when buying a motorhome?

Size

Who is likely to be travelling with you on your adventures in an Auto-Sleeper motorhome? Is it just you and your partner or do you have children or maybe an extended family to think of?

The answer governs the number of beds you need in your motorhome and, of course, this determines, in turn, the overall size of the vehicle that may comfortably accommodate your travelling companions.

Weight

Closely related to the question of size, is the overall weight and laden weight of your motorhome.

This may become more critical as you consider the largest of the motorhomes you might have an eye on. For the great majority of motorhomes, your standard driving licence allows you to drive vehicles of up to 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM), explains the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). For motorhomes above this weigh, however, you may need to pass and hold a supplementary Category C1 licence.

To complicate things a little further, your precise driving licence qualifications also depend on whether you took your test before or after the 1st of January 1997.

Where are you going?

Your choice of the size and weight of your motorhome might also be influenced by where it is you are likely to be going and how you intend to use the vehicle:

  • if you are planning to use it mainly for touring, with just overnight stops along the way, a smaller vehicle is likely to be more manoeuvrable along narrow winding lanes or congested city streets;
  • if you have a particular destination in mind and plan to use your Auto-Sleeper as a – somewhat luxurious – home away from home, then the extra spaciousness and higher standard of fittings and furniture of a larger, heavier vehicle may be more appropriate.

Seeing is believing

As you begin to home in on the motorhome of your choice, there is nothing to beat the experience of ditching the brochures and magazines and getting up close and personal to the real thing.

Why not stop by our Auto-Sleeper exhibition centre and view the whole range on offer? Settle down in one of the comfortable seats in the cockpit or lounge area, bounce up and down on a bed or two, and get hands-on with the galley.

Your budget

As with so many things, your final decision may come down to the hard realities of your bank balance.

Once again, though, Auto-Sleepers build motorhomes to suit many a pocket – and reputable dealers such as ourselves at Derby Motorhomes are likely to offer in-house finance specialists who may advise on the ways to finance your purchase – including the Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) similar to the deal with which you might have bought your last motor car.

Are you thinking about buying a motorhome but are worried about the challenge of driving one?

In fact, you are likely to discover that – with a little practice and growing familiarity – it is probably no more difficult than driving your own car. The following tips may help to explain how you may overcome any initial doubts or worries:

Look and learn

  • when you get behind the wheel of any vehicle you have not driven before, you usually spend a moment or two familiarising your self with the controls, so that you know where everything is and know just how it all works – especially in an emergency;
  • getting behind the wheel of a motorhome is unlikely to be so different and a few minutes just making yourself comfortable, adjusting the seat, and getting familiar with all the controls is likely to pay dividends;

Training

  • you’ve made yourself at home in the cockpit – and the spacious interior, no doubt – so you’re probably looking forward to moving off;
  • if there’s still any trepidation, though, or if you want to play it extra-safe, you might want to enrol on one of the motorhome courses run by the Caravan and Motorhome Cub;
  • these 6-hour manoeuvring courses aim to teach you all about handling a larger vehicle – forwards and in reverse – simple maintenance, routine safety checks, the law, and have a feedback session;

Moving off

  • now that you’ve gained a little confidence, there are just a few things to remember – especially until you’ve become familiar with the length, width and size of your motorhome;
  • the golden rule – as far as the Quirky Camper is concerned – is to relax, slow down and enjoy the journey (likely to be at least half the enjoyment of outings in your motorhome);
  • while you are on the move, you might tend to forget some of the key dimensions – the height and length of your motorhome – so take a look in your owner’s manual and learn them off by heart, so that you are not caught out when encountering low bridges or especially narrow and winding roads along the way;
  • with the extra length of the vehicle, you may need to take corners wider than you are used to, but be careful, of course, of swinging out into oncoming traffic, slow down and look well ahead when cornering;
  • in fact, you might want to kill your speed more generally while getting used to driving your motorhome – it’s not designed to be driven as fast as the car you use for work or trips to the shops and, besides, slowing down may help you to enjoy the journey better;
  • if your motorhome is less than 3,500 kg unladen weight (as most are), then the rules of the road, including speed limits are the same as for the car you normally drive – but if it is above 3,500 kg then remember that lower speed restrictions apply;

Park and Ride

  • even though you may have become familiar with the handling of your motorhome, it is rarely a good idea to take it into already congested and sometimes narrow inner city streets;
  • Park and Ride schemes are therefore a boon to motorhome owners since they let you park easily away from all the congestion, with your vehicle waiting safely for you at the end of your visit to the city.

By following just a few simple tips and suggestions, therefore, you are likely to find that driving a motorhome presents no great challenge – and you soon take to it like a duck to water.

When you part exchange your motorhome, you get two important benefits for the price of one – you avoid the time, hassle and general inconvenience of having to sell your current motorhome and are also likely to gain more than enough of a deposit on your new one.

So, let’s take a closer look at part exchanging your motorhome.

Choose your dealer

Naturally, you want the best possible price for any motorhome you trade in, based on a fair and realistic valuation of its current market value.

Specialist, reputable dealers are likely to be in the best position to make just such an offer. They know about motorhomes, they know who is in the market to buy a used one, and they are at the cutting edge of the business.

Most dealers specialise in a particular make of motorhome and, if you are lucky enough to already own one of the top-rated brands such as an Auto-Sleeper, you may be likely to be offered an especially attractive deal in part exchange.

Indeed, some dealers are so interested in buying such desirable brands as Auto-Sleeper, that, if you have yet to make up your mind about buying a new motorhome, you may be offered an immediate cash price on the one you want to sell.

Some dealers may even agree to take your motorhome on a sale or return basis.

Showing off your part-exchanged motorhome

Whether the dealer has offered you an attractive part exchange or cash, you may want to know that your motorhome is being sold in its best possible light – the higher the price for the dealer that it commands, of course, the more you too are likely to be offered.

A further reason for choosing a main, specialist dealer, therefore, is that the motorhome you part-exchanged or sold for cash is likely to be well cared for and presented in the dealer’s showrooms – possibly in a weather-tight and heated environment, all the better to attract potential customers, well protected from the elements.

Preparing your motorhome for part exchange

You might be tempted into thinking that a vehicle you offer in part exchange does not need much in the way of special presentation – if it is dirty or needs minor exterior or interior blemishes ironing out, then the dealer is well able to provide the necessary service.

But dealers are people, too, and just like any other buyer, first impressions count.

In other words, if you are looking to part exchange, it is worth spending some of your own time cleaning the outside of the vehicle, attending to any scrapes and dings and giving the interior a thorough spring clean. It is all likely to put any dealer in the right frame of mind for offering you a better deal on a motorhome which has obviously been looked after by a responsible and careful owner.

For similar reasons, it is also important to gather together, ready to hand over to the dealer, the documents and owner’s manual you received when you bought your motorhome, together with its maintenance records and service history.

Have motorhome, will travel – as far as the road may take you. And, if you are motorhoming across Europe, that might be a very long way indeed.

It’s that freedom of the open road which beckons many motorhome owners to drive aboard a cross-Channel ferry every once in a while, to make an extended trip onto the Continent.

If you are fairly new to motorhoming or have only ventured out on a few quite local weekend breaks, you might find the prospect of driving longer distances, far from home, in a country whose language you barely speak, more than a little daunting.

As the many thousands who have gone before you are likely to attest, however, it is really not so challenging as it might first appear – and the sense of first-hand adventure and satisfaction in discovering new and exciting places well off the beaten track are likely to prove their own rewards.

Nobody’s suggesting that you make a long marathon of it all – though a travelling life in a motorhome is recounted in the journals of the Wandering Bird – but there are still a number of things to take care of when planning your motorhoming across Europe.

Driving

If you can handle driving your motorhome in the UK, you are likely to feel just as at home on the roads and motorways of Europe.

Perhaps some of the variables that catch out many drivers are speed limits, which naturally change according to conditions in built-up areas, on country roads, and on motorways – and may depend on the size of your motorhome, specifically whether it is more or less than 3,500kg in laden weight (the Maximum Authorised Mass, or MAM, which you are likely to find printed near your vehicle’s VIN plate).

In built-up areas, the usual speed limit is 50kph but beware variations.

If you are driving a large motorhome of more than 3,500kg, the restriction on motorways might vary from as slow as 50kph in Gibraltar to 110kph in Portugal.

In some countries, larger motorhomes are prohibited from using the “fast” outside lane of three-lane motorways, so lowering the maximum speed at which you are permitted to drive.

In some countries, larger motorhomes are prohibited from using the “fast” outside lane of three-lane motorways, so lowering the maximum speed at which you are permitted to drive.

Onboard essentials

Most countries in Europe have certain safety equipment and warning devices that must always be carried onboard a motor vehicle such as your motorhome.

The list varies from one country to another but might include such diverse items as hazard warning triangles (two of them in some countries), a reflective jacket, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, spare bulbs, a breathalyser kit (in France), and a sticker on the rear of the vehicle denoting your nationality.

Although courteous, the naturally official tone of any police that might stop you along your way is of course likely to be off-putting, especially if your knowledge of the local language is sketchy or non-existence. A trusty phrasebook – or these days, a translation app on your mobile, is likely to prove a God send.

In the world of motorhomes, it is often not just a case of how much space is on offer but what’s done with it that counts.

Simply changing the positioning of some of the essential elements inside the motorhome or by applying especially ingenious solutions of design, the usable area and interior appearance may be changed considerably – that what makes motorhome layouts such a critical factor in choosing one make and model over another to suit your particular family’s needs.

The designer’s challenge

For any motorhome designer, the challenge is fitting quite so much into the relative confines of your second home on wheels. There are the driver’s and passenger seats up front in the cockpit, of course, but behind that there need to be spaces in which to relax, to cook, take a shower, a place for the toilet, and to sleep.

Much of that layout is likely to be occupied by the beds – the largest single feature that needs to be fitted inside your motorhome – and that’s where the designer’s ingenuity and imagination is most called for:

Rear lounge layout

  • this is a layout you might have noticed when following a motorhome along the motorway – a lounge area situated at the back of the vehicle, typically to make the most of the panoramic view you are likely to get from a big window at the rear;

Front lounge layout

  • but the lounge area might also be immediately behind the driver and passenger seats in the cab – and is probably nowadays the most popular layout;
  • it means that your galley or kitchen area, washroom and – in the case of larger motorhomes – the bedroom, too, are all situated towards the rear of the vehicle;

Fixed double bed

  • the bed you sleep in at home is likely to have enough space around it to climb in from either side and this is also possible with a motorhome’s fixed double bed as an “island” with access from both side, and fixed so you don’t need to fold it down and make it up from scratch every night;

Fixed single bed

  • on the same principle – but for those who prefer to sleep alone – fixed single beds are also available;
  • as an article in AutoTrader points out, a fixed bed is one which you don’t have to convert from the seating area in the lounge – for that reason, fixed beds are normally situated at the back of a motorhome, ready and waiting, already made up for when you want to turn in for the night;

French bed layout

  • the so-called French bed is a layout designed to make the most of the space in a smaller motorhome, since it is usually fitted against the wall and the corners at the foot of the bed may be cut off and rounded, so it is easier to get around them;
  • for some of the arguments in favour of and against this type of arrangement, take a look at the article on the website Out and About Live;

Bunk beds

  • not so many motorhomes feature bunk beds, but they tend to be a favourite with children, so if you have a young family travelling with you on holidays, you might want to give a thought to this space-saving arrangement.

Motorhome layouts are many and varied – typically masterpieces in design and ingenuity. The layout that suits you is likely to be determined by your family’s own particular needs and the way you intend to use your motorhome. Whatever those needs may be, you are almost certain to find a layout that suits you.

 

Given the glorious summers we’ve had in recent years, you might be forgiven for holding on to your motorhome with more than a little jealousy.

Sadly, though, there are very few of us who have the opportunity of spending every waking moment in our cherished motorhome. There are going to be too many days when it has to sit idly in the driveway.

But the very attraction which keeps your motorhome so close to your heart is likely to captivate many other people too – those who are looking for a short break or holiday with a difference, or those who might be thinking about buying one for themselves and want a first-hand experience before doing so.

By renting out your motorhome – especially if it is one so highly sought-after as an Auto-Sleeper – you might ensure that it is not only being put to maximum good use, but you may earn a tidy amount of cash into the bargain. If nothing else, the income might help to cover the costs of maintenance, servicing and repairs.

Renting it out

You might already know or have been recommended someone who wants to rent your motorhome, but in many cases, it might mean advertising its availability.

When creating your advert, remember to give clear and precise dates on which it is available, an accurate description of its condition, size and how many people it may comfortably sleep. And, of course, the daily or weekly rental charge.

As you begin to receive expressions of interest, make sure – for your own security and peace of mind – to find out as much as possible about any potential renter. It’s your motorhome after all and you’ll want to know that it’s in a safe pair of hands.

Once you have established a degree of mutual confidence, you may arrange to meet and handover your motorhome for the agreed period. It is worth having put the homework into drafting a formal hire agreement, inventory and check list of “dos” and “don’ts”.

Run through these checklists carefully and remember to accept the renter’s money before the agreement is signed and you hand over the keys to your motorhome.

Internet help

In this day and age of the internet, there are websites and apps that offer to take over all this hard work on your behalf.

They have ready-made formats for advertising and listing your motorhome, pre-screen potential renters on your behalf, have pro-forma rental agreements, and also arrange to handle the collection and processing of rental payments.

Motorhome insurance

One of the most important aspects of renting your motorhome to someone is the question of motor insurance – it is essential for both you and your renter’s peace of mind and security. Both of you are at risk of breaking the law if the insurance cover is inappropriate or inadequate.

An article in the Sun newspaper on the 1st of December 2018, describes a number of apps which are already in use by car owners renting out their vehicles. This also stresses the importance of making things absolutely clear to the current insurers of your motorhome – renting it out might invalidate some policies – and, if necessary, arrange specialist motorhome insurance that specifically covers your renting out the vehicle to others.

 

It’s perhaps because we are an island nation but there is something special about the lure of the sea. Whether it’s wintertime gusts to blow away the cobwebs or the gentle breezes of summer, the coastline seems always to beckon – and the memories are long-lasting.

It might be a small island, but Britain has a surprisingly long coastline, according to a story in the Telegraph newspaper on the 12th of December 2018 – a coastline longer than that of Brazil, Mexico or even India, for example.

All in all, it might be difficult to know just where to start if you want to explore parts of this coastline – and it’s not just getting to a handy starting point but finding somewhere to stay mid-route.

With a motorhome or auto-sleeper, of course, that’s a problem easily solved. And there are some real gems – probably not far from your doorstep – accessible by motorhome and with well-appointed campsites at which to stay overnight.

Here are just a few tempting stretches of coastline for your next coastal trip.

A taste of history

The coastline between Worthing and Hastings is not only a short drive from London or anywhere in the southeast but reflects the glories of the iconic English seaside resorts of ages past.

Promenades abound and provide a gentle drive until you get out a while to stretch your legs.

The Victorian facades of the buildings still echo the times when these resorts were in their prime, yet just a mile or two along the road and you come upon some of the most well-known and stunning views of the English coastline – where the Downs meet the sea at Birling Gap or at Beachy Head, for example.

Fairfields Farm Caravan and Camping Park mid-way between Eastbourne and Hastings has been voted winner of the top 100 best sites in the southeast of England.

Northwest Wales

The grandeur of Snowdonia National Park comes down to the sea in this wild and rugged part of northwest Wales, with the historic and rolling countryside of the Llyn Peninsula just to the west.

There are beaches accessible by motorhome, too, when it’s time to just relax, potter about in the shallows or stroll along the front.

Cae Du Farm couldn’t be better – or more spectacularly – situated within the National Park, right on the coast, and with views on a fair day of the entire Welsh coastline as far as Pembrokeshire.

The wild, wild north

If you want to give your motorhome a really good run for its money, think about driving just about as far north as you can go in mainland Britain to the wild, wild coast of northern Scotland between Durness in the west as far as John O’Groats in the east.

Views across to the northern isles, coastal scenery to die for, and the certain probability of being able to explore wild and remote beaches all to yourself.

And, yes, there are well-equipped campsites even this far north! Try out John O’Groats Caravan and Camping site. Once you’re done, if you’re up for a drive the entire length of the country, head off to Lands End in Cornwall – some 874 miles away!

Do you like apps and gadgets? There seems to be a fairly strong correlation between owners of motorhomes and all manner of apps and gadgets, so you’re probably not alone.

With the new season about to open up in all its glory – and to satisfy your taste for the latest in clever technology – here are our suggested top 10 apps for motorhome owners.

  1. Google maps
  • Google maps is everywhere – any android smartphone comes with it pre-installed – and effectively replaces any mountain of paper maps and atlases;
  • not only can you see at a glance exactly where you’re going, but the in-built GPS system can tell you the best routes to take between A and B;
  1. Campsites and caravan parks UK

This handy app takes over where Google maps leaves off by showing the locations of its listing of more than 6,100 campsites in the UK – 2,005 of them are non-membership sites, 2,207 are Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Locations, 172 are for Caravan and Motorhome Club members, and 1,810 for Camping and Caravanning Club members.

Unfortunately, the app works only on IOS systems such as the iPhone.

  1. park4night

This is one for android users who want to share with other motorhome owners places they’ve especially liked – or disliked – to spend the night, make a picnic, clear your head from the strain of driving, or simply relax.

  1. Siteseeker

Developed by the Camping and Caravanning Club, for use on both android and IOS phones, the app lists all of the Club’s UK sites – though you must be a member to view all the certified sites.

Available for IOS and Android, this app is created by the Camping and Caravanning Club and lists the club’s 1,600 UK sites. You need to be a member to see all of the certified sites.

Sites can be filtered by location, onsite facilities and price.

  1. AA Caravanning and Camping Guide

The AA’s guide only lists 850 sites in England, Scotland and Wales but each one is given an AA rating and listings include the address of the site, its location, photos, prices, and telephone numbers;

One of its distinctive features is a filter called simply “inspire me”.

  1. Geocaching

Have motorhome, will explore – geocaching is another word for treasure-hunting, with caches hidden in various places around your chosen location.

You can create your own list of geocaches and save them for use offline, before finding and logging your “trackables”.

  1. AllTrails

However deep your love affair with your motorhome, it’s always good to strike away from base under your own steam by hiking, running, backpacking or mountain biking.

Available on both android and OIS, AllTrails suggests some of the best, most scenic or arduous routes, including those which are dog or children-friendly too – with a GPS tracker that lets you know exactly where you are.

  1. Strava

Another app for the fitness-minded is Strava – which tracks your route as you cycle, walk or run and even follows your progress during a yoga session – and includes a “beacon” feature to let friends and family know where you are too.

  1. SAS Survival Guide – Lite

If you’ve gone somewhat over the top in striking off into the wilds of moor and mountain, this free, lite version of the full SAS training manual might prove to be a lifesaver.

  1. iBBQ

What’s the best part of your motorhome holiday? Chances are it’s when you fire up the BBQ.

The iBBQ app not only tells you the location of the nearest butcher, but also has that all-important weather forecast and a lip-smacking selection of BBQ recipes.

It’s very nearly that time of year once again! The days are getting longer, warmer, and the sun more reliably appears. It’s time for getting ready for summer with your motorhome.

You might not have been using it so much during the winter months, so it’s worth pausing to think about what might need doing to take to the roads once again in a motorhome that is clean, orderly and comfortable.

Servicing and maintenance

Have you given your motorhome its annual inspection and service yet?

As you’ll see from our webpage, at Derby Motorhomes we offer a wide range of mechanical and habitation services, tailored to your particular make and model, MOT tests, repairs, accessory fitting, and warranty work – just let us know what you need doing and book it in.

MOT and insurance

If your motorhome has passed its third birthday since first registration, you must hold a valid and up to date MOT certificate – that is the law and you may be fined up to £1,000 if you do not have one.

You must also make sure that your motor insurance is fully up to date, since it is illegal to drive your motorhome on the roads or in any public space without a minimum of third party insurance – and may again face stiff penalties, including the suspension of your driving licence if you fail to have the cover.

Re-familiarise yourself

If it’s been a while since you had your motorhome out on the road it may be worthwhile just spending a moment or two sitting at the wheel and familiarising yourself with all the controls once again.

It’s unlikely to take so very long – and you may be better prepared to react to the controls almost instinctively when something needs to be done.

Cleaning

The website Out and About Live suggests that it’s not only a good spring cleaning that your motorhome is likely to need, but a thorough flushing of the water system to rid it of any lingering and potentially unhealthy bacteria – even if you had remembered to drain down the system before over-wintering.

  • first, close off all the taps – including the drain cock – pour in some proprietary antibacterial cleaner and fill up your system with fresh clean water. While it’s filling, also turn on the heating system to your hot water supply too;
  • next, run the cold taps until the water runs perfectly clear and do the same with the hot water taps. Refill the water tank and flush the entire system through once again until you have drained it down. Refill with clean water;
  • check that the gas and electricity supplies are connected and that the appliances work. Replenish gas cylinders – including any you keep as spare or in reserve;
  • check for water penetration and any areas of ingress and damp. You might want to consider further waterproofing on the exterior of your motorhome;
  • the supplementary battery is unlikely to have been used much, if at all, over the winter, so will almost certainly need re-charging. Check that the battery is still capable of holding its charge and, if not, replace it.

Finally, before you set off anywhere in your motorhome, give the tyres a final check – both for the correct pressures and any signs of damage – and the vehicle’s and the interior’s lighting systems.

Seeing an Auto-Sleeper for yourself, by getting up close and personal with the motorhome of your choice is clearly an excellent form of introduction, but it is still likely you to leave you with plenty of things to ask your Auto-Sleeper dealer.

At Derby Motorhomes, we are here to answer precisely those questions:

Which is the right Auto-Sleeper for me and my family?

  • there are so many possible answers to this question that you might be glad of our expertise, experience and guidance;
  • the Auto-Sleeper for you and your family, of course, depends on the way you plan to use it, the size of motorhome you want to buy, and whether you are buying new or second hand;
  • since we have such a wide range of new and pre-loved Auto-Sleepers on display, you may try out our suggestions for yourself first-hand, even taking those in which you have a particular interest for a test drive;
  • for innovative design, layout and spaciousness and through the use of proven chasses and powertrains, it’s no accident that Auto-Sleepers are our flagship range;

Van conversion or coach built?

  • ask your dealer about some of the differences between van conversions and coach built motorhomes;
  • just as the terms suggest, a van conversion takes a standard chassis type and powertrain – in the case of Auto-Sleepers, a Peugeot or Fiat Ducato engine and transmission – with the superstructure skilfully converted to create a spacious and well-appointed interior;
  • a coach built motorhome is specially crafted, lovingly built from the chassis up and, in the case of an Auto-Sleeper, powered by a 160bhp Peugeot engine or a 163bhp Mercedes;
  • as you might imagine, therefore, coach built motorhomes tend to be in a luxury class of their own – and come with a price ticket to match;

What after-sales service and warranties are offered?

  • if you have to wait at all for delivery of your Auto-Sleeper from Derby Motorhomes, that’s because we put every aspect of the vehicle through rigorous and stringent pre-delivery tests, before giving your model a finishing valet service;
  • on the rare occasion that anything should go wrong after that, of course you expect the reassurance that it will be put right;
  • that’s where our long history in dealing with Auto-Sleepers, and our fully-trained and experienced team of technicians who are familiar with every model in the range, comes into its own – we have the expertise and well-stocked parts stores to ensure any replacements are fitted speedily and professionally;

Can you arrange finance?

  • buying an Auto-Sleeper is likely to represent a significant investment and one for which you may need finance;
  • we are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to offer three principal options – personal loans, hire purchase and even Personal Contract Purchase – giving you the widest choice of finance options (depending on your credit history, of course).

If you are thinking of buying an Auto-Sleeper, you’ll not only want your own private viewing and maybe a test drive, but also have lots of questions to ask your dealer. Here at Derby Motorhomes we’re delighted if you ask away – and our dedicated team of sales people will provide the answers.