If you are thinking about getting a motorhome, here are some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) we receive about the subject.

Can I drive a motorhome on an ordinary driving licence?

This is probably one of the most common questions we are asked here at Derby Motorhomes.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, thankfully, the answer is quite simply “yes, you can”. The exceptions largely relate to the weight of the motorhome you want to drive, how long ago it was that you passed your driving test, and your current age.

Essentially, anyone with a full driving licence for a car can also drive any motorhome up to 3,500kilos of Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) or the weight of your vehicle when it is fully loaded. To drive a motorhome with a MAM of more than 3,500kilos, you will need to have passed your test before 1st January 1997.

Note that if you’re over 70 years of age, you will need a medical examination if the vehicle weighs more than 3,500kilos.

To double-check your eligibility to drive any particular motorhome, refer to the date on which you took your driving test, your current age, the weight of the vehicle in which you are interested and cross-reference to the official government website.

Can I import a supersize motorhome from the USA?

This is another question we are often asked – and it might be inspired by all those road-based TV shows and films from across the pond!

Once again, the simple short answer is “yes you can import such a motorhome” (or RV as it will be called in its native country) – but be prepared for it proving to be a most expensive business.

More seriously, US motorhomes will need an “EU certificate of conformity” in many cases and some may not be road-legal in the UK without significant modification.

Also bear in mind that if you do import an RV, you may have difficulty with parking spaces when you use it, due to its size.

Do motorhomes need an MOT?

Once your motorhome is more than 3 years old – just like your car – it will need an annual MOT test.

There’s nothing special about it apart from the fact that some MOT testing stations might not be big enough to accommodate larger motorhomes.

Can I take my motorhome abroad?

Indeed, you can.

It’s one of the big attractions of this type of leisure holiday because the world becomes your oyster. In fact, many EU countries have arguably more and better facilities for casual motorhome parking than you might typically find in the UK.

Make sure your vehicle is fully legal on the road and that your motorhome insurance is up to date and valid for EU cover.

You may also need additional documentation such as an international driving permit and Green Card post-Brexit.

Pay particular attention to the fact that many motor insurance policies have a maximum number of consecutive days outside the UK or the maximum number of permissible days in total throughout the year.

If you are considering taking your motorhome outside of the European Union, plus those countries that are associated with it such as Norway and Switzerland, the position may be a little more complex.

First of all, you may be faced by the fact that your motor insurer requires the payment of an additional premium for such extended cover.

Secondly, some countries outside of Western Europe and the EU may have quite different rules of the road and particular requirements and rules governing the use of motorhomes.

If you are thinking about taking your motorhome to places in the Middle East, North Africa or countries in the far eastern parts of Europe, such as Russia, you might want to pay particular attention to government travel advice.

Is Brexit likely to make a difference to taking my motorhome abroad?

At the time of writing, the exact implications of Brexit for UK drivers taking vehicles abroad are unknown – with any specific requirements still to be determined.

However, most sources suggest that there will be no significant change to the current position even after the UK has formally left the European Union.

If I buy a motorhome second-hand from a private owner, are there risks involved?

If you are looking to purchase a motorhome through a private sale – because you’ve seen it advertised online or in the classified ads of your local newspaper, for instance – you need to be aware of the risks you are running.

Just like buying a second-hand car, the seller’s responsibilities after sale are limited – arguably, to the point of being zero.

By contrast, a dealership will have legal responsibilities that are more demanding and some of those will continue after the sale – particularly if they offer warranties, guarantees, or special servicing agreements, and the like.

Of course, you might sometimes find slightly lower prices from a private seller. It’s a question of weighing up all the risks of buying privately against the benefits of buying from a franchised dealer.

How easy would it be to customise my motorhome’s interior?

Assuming that you have the tools and equipment required, changing the layout of the interior of your motorhome can be relatively straightforward. However, it’s necessary to pass on a word of warning.

Firstly, be aware that there may be certain regulations governing health and safety of things such as electrical and gas fittings. Changing those about, as an amateur, might contravene regulations and be dangerous – not to mention the extent to which it will probably invalidate your insurance cover.

Secondly, buyers are typically inclined to be suspicious of DIY-type modifications to the interior of motorhomes. In fact, many dealerships remove all such modifications in order to get the vehicle back to its manufacturer’s standard in situations where they have purchased one that has been modified.

Of course, there are specialist organisations and workshops who will modify the interiors for you – if you require a more professional job to be done.

I have heard that parking at home can cause disputes

This is often very significantly over-stated and problems over parking your motorhome at home are rare.

We would suggest that there are basically five issues you need to think about in advance:

  • your local council might ban on-street parking for safety or environmental impact (if you live in a conservation area, for example);
  • the same might apply in rarer cases for on-driveway parking – this is usually again related to concerns about the appearance of the local area;
  • it’s possible your deeds or lease might be subject to covenants prohibiting the parking of motorhomes or caravans on driveways – although these may not always be enforced or even known about by potentially affected neighbours;
  • your motorhome insurance might have restrictions on where you can park at home – on-street parking, for example, might be excluded while some policies might also require that your motorhome is parked in a garage (at your home or on an approved site) when it is not in use.

Typically, though, finding somewhere to park your motorhome is not a common cause for concern, providing a little common sense is used in advance.

Is it easy to sell a motorhome?

This is another question we are often asked – together with related enquiries about the extent to which a used motorhome may hold its resale value.

Broadly speaking, there is a significant demand for pre-used motorhomes. As a result, they typically hold their value well – particularly when compared to conventional motor cars.

It is rare indeed for any motorhome to appreciate in value so, it is best not to look upon it as any type of financial investment. There might be some exceptions, such as if you’ve significantly improved or enhanced your motorhome – but generally they depreciate. In other words, it will typically be worth less when it is 7 years old than when it was brand new.

However, typically motorhomes depreciate far more slowly than the typical car. In that sense, they hold their value well. Of course, a lot depends upon things such as the condition of your vehicle, its age and mileage plus where you are selling it.

Although you might typically anticipate a higher value by selling to a private buyer, the delays in finding someone can be longer on average than if you’re selling to a dealership or using it as part-exchange.

Remember to be careful and adopt all “best practices” to protect your interests against fraud if you decide to sell to a private individual.

Owning a motorhome is likely to open up a whole new world of travel – one that allows you the freedom of the open road and the ability to travel under your own steam, whilst all the time having your own home from home in the very vehicle you are driving.

To take full advantage of that exciting new world and to make the most of what is likely to be a quite significant investment, it is clearly important to know just what you are getting yourself into.

The Gap Decaders website has listed 20 good reasons for owning a motorhome and enjoying the freedom, adventure, outdoor life and friendships that ownership can bring. To be fair, they also found 10 downsides to that argument – and not least was the cost in buying your first motorhome and the relative lack of space even within more luxurious models.

The pros and advantages in owning a motorhome most definitely win out – though to be doubly sure, you might want to hire, or borrow a friend’s vehicle, for a week or two before committing to your own make and model.

Here are some considerations before you take the plunge. Of course, if you have any questions or queries, please feel free to contact us – we’d be delighted to help.

Choosing your motorhome

Whether you have arranged first-hand experience or are simply browsing the online catalogues and specifications, you will soon learn that motorhomes come in all shapes and sizes – with prices to match.

Choosing the one best suited to your particular needs and requirements is obviously important, but, given the sheer range of different makes and models, is likely to be bewildering at first and need a good deal of research.

Some of that might be gleaned from friends or colleagues who already own a motorhome or your researches on the internet. But for an up-close and personal, first-hand experience, think about visiting a major dealer and distributor at their own exhibition space – or, from the comfort of your own home, browse our website to see the latest motorhome options.

New or second hand?

When you have narrowed down your search for the suitable size, sleeping accommodation, make and model, you need to consider whether you want to buy new or second hand.

Once again, many specialist dealers offer the advantage of having both types on display – and are constantly on hand to offer advice on the relative merits of new versus older models of any motorhome you have in mind.

Buying from a motorhome dealer

The distinct advantage in buying – new or preloved – from a reputable dealer is the security and peace of mind you will have in getting a motorhome that has not only been thoroughly inspected, tested and serviced, but also comes with the dealer’s warranty and the specialists to whom you might turn if anything goes amiss post-sale.

Buying privately second-hand

If you are looking at a private sale of a used motorhome, you need to beware, of course, of simply taking a shot in the dark and trusting to nothing more than hope that you are buying a reliable and well-maintained vehicle.

Examine the detailed service history of any used motorhome you are thinking of buying, together with its MOT certificates and, of course, the registration document (which must demonstrate the DVLA’s approval of any conversions).

One of the problems with used or older motorhomes may be condensation – and the accumulation of moisture, damp, and mould – so, make sure to check the interior with a moisture meter.

More detailed checks, suggested in a guide published by the Caravan and Motorhome Club, suggest that you:

  • check that all the gas equipment works – even if that means taking along a spare cylinder to any viewing;
  • if a mains electricity hook-up is installed, ask to inspect the latest electrical safety certificate – these should have been issued regularly;
  • are the tyres the correct size and specification for the vehicle? Do they need replacing because of their age – they might look fine, but need to be replaced at least every five years;
  • lift up mattresses and cushions to look for any evidence of damp underneath them;
  • inspect under the sink and look at any joints around pumps and fittings for evidence of any leaks; and
  • make sure that the wooden tops supporting the beds continue to take their weight and that fold-down equipment, such as tables, stand firm and stable.

Your driving licence

The government website makes clear that any motorhome you drive in this country must comply with UK size limits and you must have the relevant driving licence.

Your eligibility for a licence to drive a motorhome depends on your age and the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of the vehicle – namely, the weight of the motorhome and its maximum permitted load.

Your regular car driving licence (Category B) is likely to qualify you for driving the majority of motorhomes – especially if you have held your driving licence since before the 1st of January 1997, because  you are then also qualified to drive what are now Category C1 vehicles (those with a Maximum Authorised Mass, or MAM, of between 3.5 and 7.5 tons – practically any type of motorhome except for the largest of American Winnebagos).

The Camping and Caravan Club draws attention to an important consideration for drivers approaching the age of 70, the risk of losing automatic entitlement to drive a Category C1 vehicle, when you come to renew your driving licence,  and the need to ask your GP to complete the relevant medical declaration on your behalf.

Care for your motorhome

Whether you bought it new or second-hand, your motorhome is likely to cost you a significant amount of money. You will want to look after that investment, therefore, by taking good care of your motorhome.

As with any motor vehicle, safety comes first – and this means ensuring that your motorhome remains completely roadworthy, in accordance with the law. If you are circulating the vehicle in anything like an unroadworthy condition, be sure that it will soon attract the unwelcome attention of the police – and you stand to face stiff penalties.

To keep on the right side of the law, therefore, you must ensure that your motorhome receives regular mechanical servicing and maintenance.

But your motorhome is more than just a vehicle, it is also your second home, so servicing and maintenance also needs to take care of the many appliances, fixtures and fittings invariably included in today’s motorhomes. A habitation service is just as important as the mechanical service.

An article in Practical Caravan explains that an annual habitation service can involve as many as 50 separate checks and jobs, which are typically divided into five main categories:

  • the electrics;
  • gas systems;
  • water systems;
  • bodywork; and
  • Ventilation

Ventilation might seem to be an odd heading under which to conduct service checks. But some of the particular vulnerabilities of a motorhome are likely to feature the twin problems of mildew and mould.

Not only are these unsightly and damaging to the inside of your caravan, they are also dangerous to your health – yet once they have taken hold, they are notoriously difficult to treat or to banish – prevention, therefore, is many times better than cure.

Your new motorhome

Beginning a life of new adventures with a motorhome is exciting. The challenges facing any newcomer, however, are fairly easy to overcome – especially if you are open to advice from the experts and specialists in the business and the wider community of motorhome owners.

Looking for and buying a new motorhome is exciting. It can be great fun and just looking at the models on offer can really whet your appetite.

You’ll be spending a significant amount of money. Understandably, you’ll want to avoid making any errors in deciding eventually what motorhome to purchase. Of course, it is entirely up to you what motorhome you eventually choose to buy – it isn’t up to us or anybody else to tell you what is the most suitable motorhome for you.

But we do believe that it’s our primary duty is to offer you objective advice and guidance as you go through the process of selecting a motorhome. So, here are a few motorhome buying tips to help you get started. They’re based on the assumption that you’re new to motorhomes rather than a seasoned veteran of many such purchases and also that we’re discussing new rather than pre-used vehicles.

Preparatory work

Signing the bottom line for the purchase of a new motorhome is not difficult.

What’s important is the preparatory work before getting your pen out. Here we examine some of the key points, including one or two that are sometimes overlooked in the excitement of such a large purchase.

Research

Sometimes reviews of makes and models of motorhome can be difficult to interpret if you’re unfamiliar with the appropriate terminology. The same can even apply to some of the more technical motorhome buying tips.

Take some time, therefore, to thoroughly research and read-up on motorhomes, their main components and the sometimes specific language used to describe them.

No manufacturer or dealership is likely to publish negative reviews on their website about their services or a vehicle they’ve sold. Thankfully, there are plenty of unbiased and objective review sites online. Use them to check out what real buyers have thought of the vehicle you’re considering and, if possible, the post-sales service standards of the dealership.

Once you’re up to speed, look at those reviews of given models to check things such as:

  • reliability;
  • comfort;
  • driving ease;
  • running costs;
  • power/performance (this isn’t about speed, it’s about how easily the model will cope with hazards such as steep hills when fully loaded);
  • the flexibility of configuration (your requirements may change between one trip and another).

Take advice

There are specialist and generalist motorhome dealers.

The difference is usually visible in terms of whether they have the odd motorhome for sale amongst lots of other vehicle types or are clearly dedicated to motorhomes as a business. Typically, the specialists will be able to offer more focused and broader-based advice than a generalist might be able to.

Think carefully about your needs and requirements

Think about your recreation plans in general. It goes without saying that they are almost certain to be based around mobile holiday concepts and the great outdoors. However, you’ll need to think about:

  • whether this just you and your partner primarily or whether you intend to invite others (e.g. children, grandchildren, relatives, friends) to join you? That makes a big potential difference in terms of the size and configuration of the motorhome you might select;
  • your destinations. Even if you won’t ever have others with you, if you plan to use your vehicle regularly and over very long distances say around Europe, having a larger and more spacious vehicle might make more sense than opting for a smaller one; and
  • do you prefer preparing food yourself or do you see that as a chore to be avoided in favour of restaurants when on holiday? If the former, you might choose a motorhome with a top-of-the-line specification kitchen.

Here are some of the additional questions you might want to ask yourself before firming up any decisions:

  • just how often and over what sort of distances and durations, you think you might want to use your motorhome;
  • how your requirements sit with regards to the distribution of space between the driving cab and lounge areas;
  • how many berths you will require on a typical use basis;
  • your views about the running costs of the various models;
  • whether or not you are comfortable driving larger as opposed to intermediate or smaller motorhomes;
  • the level of equipment you need. Some motorhome owners like to have the ultimate in comfort and equipment whereas others prefer a slightly more camping-type experience with more modest equipment levels;
  • how much you would normally like to take with you, in terms of clothes and other possessions, when you are setting off on a trip. If that might seem a strange question, it is, of course, related to balancing things such as additional berths versus larger storage units in the motorhome; and
  • your preference for the driving experience. The engines in motorhomes and the driving seat/instrument configurations can vary significantly from one chassis to another. Some may suit you well, others perhaps less so.

The above list is far from comprehensive but it’s illustrative of how we like to get to know our potential customers so we can play a productive part in helping them to make the right choice.

Clarify your finances in advance

One of the major additional considerations is your budget.

A significant number of motorhomes are purchased outright using cash. You might have been fortunate enough to pick up a lump sum through something such as an inheritance, a pension lump sum, an unexpected windfall and so on.

However, you may wish to think carefully before spending your disposable cash in this fashion. Once converted into a motorhome, remember that your money will start to depreciate, and you also may not be able to access it quickly or cost-effectively if you need it for an emergency.

So, invest some time in planning your motorhome finance before starting to look at those vehicles and their purchase deals.

It’s often advisable to think more roundly about your finances and to look at a number of options including motorhome finance provided by a specialist. Having, for example, a hire purchase agreement in principle in your pocket might strengthen your negotiating position with dealerships.

If you plan to buy your motorhome with the help of finance (which we can help you with), how much you will be able to comfortably afford each month by way of repayments. That will also highlight the importance of your credit rating.

Typically, questions about financing your purchase fall into two broad categories:

  • understand what you can afford in terms of purchasing cost and if you’re opting for motorhome finance, how much you can comfortably repay each month; and
  • do your sums on the annual running costs of any particular vehicle you may be interested in buying. Make sure your budget includes the cost of trips in your motorhome – you’ll want to get the maximum use out of your new vehicle.

Check the depreciation

Different models may have significantly different depreciation curves. That is essentially showing how much their value from new will reduce over the years ahead.

The good news is that, typically, new motorhomes tend to hold their values well when compared to most standard motor cars. Even so, there may be variations in that depending upon the make and model you select, so this is something that is useful to know in advance.

Don’t underestimate extra comfort

It’s often worth spending what might be relatively modest extra sums to provide you with a few optional extras or even a model upgrade if it helps make the motorhome feel more like a true home-from-home.

Don’t over or underestimate your required space

There is an entire science behind estimating just how much space you will be comfortable within your motor home. The answer, of course, it varies from one buyer to another.

There are many guides that are worth consulting to try and make sure you don’t end up with a vehicle that is too small for your comfort or so large that you don’t feel easy about driving it.

Inspect, view and test drive the model of motorhome you’re interested in

It can be risky to base such a large purchasing decision on an inspection of a model a dealership tells you is “fairly close” to the one you have in mind. After your own house, of course, a motorhome is likely to be the second most expensive purchase you will ever make.

You wouldn’t normally decide to purchase a property unseen based on a viewing of one that was vaguely similar many miles away, so don’t be tempted to do the same where a motorhome is concerned.

Consider a basic familiarisation course

If you’re unused to driving a motorhome, it can be slightly intimidating initially. For example, even with modern all angle cameras in the cab, reversing can be an acquired art.

Many dealerships will be able to recommend a quick overview, familiarisation and manoeuvring course – such as those offered by both the Caravan and Motorhome Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club. It might be an idea to take one in advance of deciding on a specific purchase, as it might even influence your final choice of vehicle.

Summary

The most important of all motorhome buying tips is – take your time and avoid rushing. Getting a good fit for your situation, needs and requirements is imperative.

At Derby Motorhomes we can help you with your decision so that you find the right motorhome for you. Call us today on 01332 360222 to see how we can help!

Although winter might bring some days of unexpected sunshine, this is probably the time of year when you are thinking about putting your motorhome into some form of storage. The days are getting noticeably shorter and the clocks will be going back anytime soon, so you might be using your motorhome less often as the weather closes in.

So that your motorhome stays in peak condition, protected from the elements and other wear and tear, here are some tips and suggestions as you prepare the vehicle for winter – so that it is ready to use come springtime.

As you prepare to winterise your motorhome, bear in mind that your motorhome insurance policy may spell out certain obligations as to what you need to do when storing your motorhome. Some may also offer discounts if you store your motorhome at a recognised storage site – speak to your insurer for clarification.

Insurance considerations, for the moment, to one side, let’s consider the main areas of focus before you store your motorhome away for winter:

Storage

One of the great things about a motorhome, of course, is its versatility and the way it is more or less always ready to get out on the road for excursions even during the winter months. Depending on your lifestyle and the type of motorhome you own, however, you might prefer to think in terms of more secure, off-road storage.

The Caravan and Motorhome Club has 3,000 such pitches at various secure storage sites around the country and many of these are also accredited by the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA) – where the level of security and safe-keeping might even earn you a discount on your motorhome insurance premiums.

Preparation

Whether you decide to winterise your motorhome by putting it into storage or keep it on your driveway ready for sunnier winter interludes, now is the time of year to give it some pre-winter care and maintenance:

  • wash and clean off the summer’s dust and debris before giving the whole vehicle a good wax – to provide that extra layer of protection that helps preserve the bodywork’s sheen;
  • remember that your motorhome needs to “breathe” when it’s not in use – air vents need to be kept open to prevent damp and mould – so avoid covering the vehicle with any type of tarpaulin;
  • lubricate mechanical parts on the exterior of your motorhome, including the door hinges – this will also help repel moisture and reduce corrosion;
  • check the tyre pressures and inflate them to the recommended working pressure, but remember that the rubber is going to deteriorate faster if the weight of the vehicle is kept on the same tread for too long – better to raise the vehicle on axle-stands to take the weight off the tyres;
  • carefully check the state of all seals around doors and windows, making sure that the rubber has not perished or become damaged – this is one of the most common sources of ingress of water, which may quickly cause very costly, longer-term damage; and
  • if there is evidence of any water ingress, make sure to trace and remedy the problem.

Mechanical

Although a full mechanical service may wait until nearer the time you next use it, prepare the motorhome for its period of storage by changing the oil and consider adding a fuel storage stabiliser (to combat corrosion and prevent the build-up of gum and varnish deposits).

Here at Derby Motorhomes, we advise against the temptation to turn over the engine by starting it too often, since this is likely to circulate the acids and sludge that accumulate in the system. If you do start it, however, make sure to run it for at least half an hour.

An altogether better solution is simply to disconnect and remove the battery, charging it regularly – perhaps with a solar trickle-charger, as advertised by suppliers Maplin.

Interior

Give the interior a thorough cleaning, too – not simply for appearances’ sake, but also to help prevent a build-up of damp or to deter pests. Food and crumbs that have accumulated during summer outings present an irresistible treat to mice and other pests during the winter months. So, remove all food from the fridge, clean the inside thoroughly and leave the door ajar.

A quick checklist of further good housekeeping points for the interior of your motorhome includes:

  • draining down all water systems and blowing compressed air through the pipes to ensure that every last drop has been expelled;
  • this is an essential precaution, since any water that freezes in cold weather may burst not only the pipes and storage tanks but also the fittings;
  • disconnect and remove the auxiliary battery or batteries for storage in a dry place where they will not freeze and remember to keep them charged since cold weather shortens their effective working life;
  • disconnect and remove any gas (butane or propane) cylinders and store in a safe and dry place;
  • take out all the bedding and soft furnishings, wash or dry clean it and store it indoors at home.

Ventilation

One of the trickier issues is maintaining ventilation – to discourage the spread of damp and mould – whilst at the same time weather-proofing those openings to prevent insects and other pests from getting in.

Larger ventilation portals, for example, might be covered up with plastic or polythene which is simply taped into place.

Awnings

Ensure that any awnings have been thoroughly dried so that they can be rolled up and put away until they are needed in the spring or summer.

Checks

Whether it is sitting on the driveway at home, or in more permanent storage, visit your motorhome from time to time and, if possible, take it out for a drive, to help even out wear on the tyres that have been bearing the weight of the vehicle for all this time.

Regularly check tyre pressures, oil, brake, and clutch fluids.

Ready for the next season

A little care now, as you winterise your motorhome, may help to ensure it is ready for another season of faithful service come the springtime.

Take to the wheel of any motorhome and the freedom of the open road is all yours. Take to the wheel and drive your motorhome in Europe and that open road is practically boundless.

Whatever time of year you are proposing to go, a little advance planning and attention to what you need to take with you may save heartache – not to mention disaster – further down the road.

So that your adventures on the continent run smoothly and with as little unwelcome incident as possible, however, here are some of the factors to keep in mind – from the planning and paperwork, to preparation of your motorhome, to driving in Europe.

Planning

Whether you have a fixed destination in mind or are planning for a magical mystery tour to wherever takes your fancy on the day, beware of overly long and tiring hours behind the wheel.

In other words, always plan plenty of pitstops along the way – and that means during the day as well as any overnight stops to sleep.

Your motorhome will be taking the strain, but also needs to be fully fit to do so. In that case, remember to plan an early visit to a servicing agent – ourselves here at Derby Motorhomes, perhaps, especially if yours is an Auto-Sleepers motorhome.

Paperwork

It’s important to have all the documents and paperwork you need to take with you.

Since some of these might take a while to arrange, it is worth getting them together in good time. Include the following in your checklist of documents:

Driving licence

  • at the time of writing, it is still unclear exactly whether the 1st of January 2021 is likely to arrive with a no-deal exit – but either way, after that date when travelling in Europe you will need to have your up to date UK driving licence with you at all times (one that qualifies you to drive your current motorhome, of course);

International Driving Permit

  • similarly, it is an open question whether you will need an International Driving Permit after the 1st of January 2021 – but it seems highly likely that you will;
  • you can visit the Government website for the most up to date information but probably the easiest place to get one is the Post Office, where you will need to show your driving licence (and a passport, if your licence is the older, paper type), a current passport-standard photograph, and the pay the £5.50 fee;

Motor insurance

  • as breakdown recovery service Green Flag explains, a minimum of third party insurance is obligatory throughout Europe, so you need to keep your insurance certificate with you at all times – having checked with your insurer that your policy covers you while driving in Europe;
  • you might also want to upgrade any minimum third-party cover provided by your motor insurer when driving in Europe to your normal, fully comprehensive cover;
  • also, ask your insurer for a “green card” showing proof that you meet the insurance standards required in the countries through which you will be driving;
  • the AA for one, suggests that both an international driving licence – whether you are driving your own vehicle or renting one – plus a green card confirming your insurance details are almost certain to be required in Europe after the 1st of January 2021;

Passports

  • even in the days when you enjoyed freedom of movement within Europe, the best means of identification for you and each of your passengers was your passport – post-Brexit, of course, passports are going to be essential and you may even need a visa to visit countries within Europe;
  • follow the news about any changes to the requirements – and remember that passports and visas invariably take quite a time to arrange.

Finally, don’t forget to take proof of ownership of your vehicle.

Preparation

Preparing to take your motorhome to Europe means making sure that your motorhome is ready for the adventure – and that it carries the equipment and any accessories that will be needed by law as you drive through European countries.

We have already mentioned the importance of a thorough service – inside and out – to ensure that your motorhome is roadworthy and capable of providing reliable and comfortable accommodation for several weeks at a time.

One of the first things you also need to ensure is that a “GB” nationality sticker is fixed to the outside rear of your motorhome – it is required throughout Europe.

Different European countries have different rules about the equipment that must be carried within your motorhome – so check carefully what is required in the countries through which you will be driving.

There is also considerable variation in the local requirements for equipment you need to keep on board:

Hazard warning triangles

  • practically every country requires that you carry a warning triangle, for example, but did you know that in Spain and Croatia you have to carry two;

Reflective jacket

  • for use in similar circumstances, you must also have on board a reflective jacket while driving in Spain, Austria, France, Belgium, Portugal, and Croatia;

First aid kit

  • in Greece, Germany, France, Croatia, and Austria, you must have a first aid kit on board – although it is a sensible precaution, of course, wherever you happen to be driving;

Fire extinguisher

  • a similarly wise precaution is to carry a fire extinguisher within your motorhome – and it is specifically recommended (although not obligatory) in Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and the Netherlands;

Breathalyser

  • in France, you must also carry a breathalyser kit – although it remains a moot point whether the law is rigorously applied.

These are by no means the only local differences you are likely to encounter in the traffic regulations of the countries you are going to be driving through. The website Caravan Talk mentions several others which you may need to bear in mind. The RAC has also produced an on-board European driving checklist that you may wish to refer to.

Driving in Europe

The rules of the road in some parts of Europe may be different from those with which you are familiar at home. Despite everything you might read about the standardisation of rules throughout the EU, when it comes to local traffic regulations, there are important differences in each member country.

You want to stay on the right side of the law, of course, so before you go it is important to research the rules of the road in every country you are going to be visiting (and those you might need to drive through as the result of diversions or other emergencies).

You might start your researches, for example, by reviewing the list of tips published by the AA.

Some of the greatest variations you are likely to encounter are speed limits in different European countries – especially if yours is a larger motorhome. And don’t let variable speed limits catch you out.

In some countries, the rules may be especially quirky and convoluted, as the AA points out with reference to Spain, for example, where some one-way streets allow parking on the side of the street where houses have odd numbers on odd days of the month – and the side where house numbers are even, on even days of the month;

These are by no means the only local differences you are likely to encounter in the traffic regulations of the countries you are going to be driving through. The website Caravan Talk mentions a number of others which you may need to bear in mind – such as the motorway tax stickers (or vignettes) you’ll need to buy in Austria or the requirements in various countries for the use of snow chains.

Driving your motorhome in Europe expands your horizons, of course, but make sure that you go thoroughly prepared. And, as a final reminder, before you set off on your adventures in a motorhome, just double-check you have all the right documentation.

Choosing the right motorhome is likely to involve several different angles of approach – not least your own research on the designs and layouts available, plus the advice you might get from your friendly motorhome dealer to ways of funding the purchase, including the possibility of part-exchange.

Choosing the right motorhome

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 altered considerably. And that’s what makes the motorhome layout such a critical factor in choosing one make and model over another – to suit the particular needs of you and your family.

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 most extensive single feature that needs to be fitted inside your motorhome –, and that’s where the designer’s ingenuity and imagination are most called for and reflected in the following standard configurations:

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 Motorhomes 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. You can even get drop-down beds, so you can really maximise the space!

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.

Questions to ask your motorhome dealer

Once you’ve researched the possibilities of layout and design, it’s probably time to get down to the serious business of questioning your dealer. Top of the possible questions is likely to be the make and model of motorhome most likely to suit you

Here at Derby Motorhomes, we make no bones about it – Auto-Sleepers are challenging to beat!

We are champions and committed supporters of what we believe, without doubt, to be the leading manufacturer of first-rate motorhomes in the UK. On the strength of that endorsement, of course, we look forward to all of your questions about any aspect of the especially wide range of Auto-Sleepers – including this year’s latest models and award-winning vehicles to buy second-hand or in part-exchange.

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

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 chassis and powertrains, it’s no accident that Auto-Sleepers is our flagship range:

Van conversion or coachbuilt?

  • just ask us about some of the differences between van conversions and coachbuilt motorhomes;
  • 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 coachbuilt 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, coachbuilt 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 motorhome finance 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).

Part-exchange with Derby Motorhomes

Once bitten by the motorhome bug, the majority of owners progress from one vehicle to another, replacing an old favourite with a new model, based on their changing needs and preferences.

And that means that Derby Motorhomes can offer what we consider is a roaring trade in part-exchange motorhomes.

Here we’d like to run through how we operate our part-exchange system and some of the basic principles behind it.

The basic approach

To give you an initial part-exchange estimate, we will need to have certain key information relating to the vehicle you are considering putting forward. Those details typically include:

  • a precise description of what it is, including things such as its make, model, and year;
  • an accurate indication of its current mileage;
  • how many previous owners it has had;
  • a fairly objective review of its condition – any major problems or damage should be highlighted at this stage to avoid wasting time later on;
  • a statement of any enhancements you might have made to it, such as anything that might affect its registration details and insurance; and
  • a statement relating to whether or not there is any outstanding finance on it.

Once we have those details, we will contact our trusted associates in whatever the vehicle field concerned is, to seek the best possible trade-in price we can on your behalf.

Assuming the figure we indicate is acceptable, we will then proceed with you to the next stage.

Confirmation and engagement

Almost inevitably, the amount you are offered in part-exchange will require the person offering the figure (or their intermediaries) being able to see the vehicle in person before agreeing a definitive and final sum.

There is absolutely no suggestion here that the part-exchange specialist believes you might have misrepresented the vehicle. It is simply a question of them trying to make sure that there is nothing associated with it that you might have failed to spot.

Sometimes those things can be very technical and not immediately apparent to anyone other than a skilled mechanic and one who is an expert in the type of vehicle concerned.

However, in many cases, this is simply routine, and the final figures are confirmed. In some cases, it may be necessary for you to take steps to settle any outstanding finance on the vehicle before offering it as part of the deal or it can be settled as part of the overall transaction.

Do please keep in mind that if you are purchasing a vehicle under hire purchase terms, it is an offence to offer it for sale or part-exchange unless your HP funds provider has agreed to it in advance, with any outstanding sums being settled as part of the final transaction.

As we have said on our website, part-exchange  may typically be an excellent way to offset some of the costs associated with purchasing a new motorhome (depending on your own, unique, financial circumstances).

Our partners and we can be extremely helpful in finding ways to make your part-exchange happen and in a cost-effective way for you. This can all be explained in much more detail and far more quickly if you contact us for an initial discussion. That will be entirely non-committal on your part, but it will give you an excellent idea of how the process works and some of the financial advantages that it might offer you.

Summary

If you are thinking of buying a motorhome – or better yet, have already decided to by one from the Auto-Sleepers range – you’ll not only want your own private viewing and maybe a test drive, but also have lots of questions to ask your dealer.

You might even have a vehicle you intend to offer in part-exchange.

Here at Derby Motorhomes, we’re delighted if you ask away – and our dedicated team of salespeople will do their absolute best to provide the answers.

Owning a motorhome gives you the freedom of the open road. And if that open road begins with the short hop across the Channel to France, the open road has practically no end.

France is our closest neighbour. That’s why so many Britons visit the country – principally for holidays. They totalled more than 10.3 million in 2019, according to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Though it might be just a short cross-Channel journey away, however, remember that France is a foreign country, with rules of the road, laws and customs that may differ substantially to those you are used to at home.

So, if you are planning on exploring France in your motorhome, there is the little matter of getting across the stretch of water known as the English Channel.

So, how do you get to France, what are the routes, and how long does it take?

With all that in mind, the following advice is offered about taking your motorhome to France.

Ways to get to France in your motorhome

Le Shuttle

By far the quickest and probably the most convenient way to get your motorhome across the Channel is through the Euro Tunnel on the train service known as Le Shuttle.

That means first driving to Folkestone on England’s south coast – the route is well signposted from the M20, where you simply drive your motorhome onto the train. The journey lasts just 35 minutes until you disembark in Calais.

When using the tunnel, you may keep onboard any LPG tanks you use for your cooker, refrigerator or for heating provided the cylinders have a capacity of no more than 47kg and that they are less than 80% full.

The Camping and Caravanning Club currently offers its members a 10% discount when tickets for Le Shuttle are bought directly through the club.

Overground

Part of your adventure, though, might be the chance to wave a temporary goodbye to the white cliffs of Dover from the deck of a ship. In that case, you have a number of options – largely determined by where your destination in France will be:

Dover to Calais

  • the shortest – 22 miles or so – and most familiar, is likely to be the Dover to Calais ferry, operated by two companies, DFDS Seaways and P&O Ferries;
  • sea crossings with either company – who together offer a combined total of 39 sailings a day – take around an hour and a half between Dover and Calais;
  • prices are calculated according to the exact dimensions of your motorhome – which you must provide at the time of booking – and larger vehicles are typically loaded first;

Dover to Dunkirk

  • if you want to arrive a little further along the north coast of France, Dover to Dunkirk may be your choice – Dunkirk is a much less busy port than Calais, the tickets tend to be cheaper, and the journey time is still only around 2 hours;

Newhaven to Dieppe

  • DFDS Seaways also operates the ferry service between Newhaven and Dieppe;
  • this might prove an even more relaxing crossing since both Newhaven and Dieppe are quieter ports than either Dover or Calais and the four-hour crossing gives you time to enjoy the cruise and enjoy a meal onboard;

Portsmouth to Normandy and Brittany

  • if your destination is Normandy, Brittany or other points west in France, Brittany Ferries offers several routes, all starting from the port of Portsmouth;
  • the route to Le Havre is billed as a “no frills” economy passage and takes around four and a half hours;
  • sailings to the historic port of Caen in Normandy prove to be some of Brittany Ferries’ most popular crossings – though you might also want to book a cabin for the seven-hour crossing;
  • Portsmouth to Cherbourg takes just three hours on Brittany Ferries’ Normandie Express;
  • since the crossing takes 10 hours, sailings from Portsmouth to St Malo are overnight – a good time to enjoy a relaxing onboard meal as you watch the sea slip quietly by.

Whether you opt for the speed and convenience of the Channel Tunnel or choose a mini cruise across to France, therefore, our closest neighbour has never been easier to reach for your next motorhome tour.

But, so much for getting there – what are you likely to make of the driving in France and what should you know about taking your motorhome?

The driving

One of the main dangers may be the lure of the open road itself. Especially if you are chasing the sun, you might be tempted to drive much further in your motorhome in France than you are used to at home.

As a detailed study by the European E-Survey of Road Users’ Attitudes (ESRA) warned, it is essential to avoid driving fatigue, so plan your route well, and take regular breaks.

Documents

You need to remember your UK driving licence, but at the time of writing (September 2020), you do not need an international driving permit for France. Do note that this could change due to Brexit, so check with the Government website for clarification.

You must also have evidence of insurance for your motorhome since a minimum of third party cover is obligatory in France – as it is throughout the rest of Europe.

Check that your insurance covers driving in Europe and ask your insurer for a “green card” that confirms you are adequately insured for driving in France. The need for a green card is almost certain to increase once the UK has completed its departure from the EU as from the 1st of January 2021.

Also carry your registration and MOT documents too.

Kit

When driving in France, you must have onboard a warning triangle and a reflective jacket to wear in case of roadside emergencies together with a first-aid kit.

While it is no longer a legal requirement, it has been in the past and is, therefore, a good idea to continue to carry a breathalyser device.

Speed limits

Speed limits may vary, especially in rural areas, are likely to catch out the unwary and are frequently policed – with on the spot fines which vary according to the degree to which you have exceeded the limit.

That means up to €68 for a minor infraction (less than 12mph) but up to €3750 and three months in prison if you are caught for the second time speeding by more than 31mph.

Emissions

The RAC warns that in some French cities you also need to display a “clean air sticker” – a Crit’Air.

This costs £3.60 and you may face an on the spot fine of nearly £120 if you fail to do so.

Please note that this information is correct at the time of writing – September 2020 – so it is advisable to check routes, the documentation needed etc. from official sources when planning your trip, as they may change.

Whether you are a newcomer to the market for buying a motorhome or a seasoned old hand, one of the exciting parts of choosing your next make and model is simply researching the many and varied types of vehicle that are available – both new and second hand.

By researching motorhomes, you may build up a picture not only of what is available but what types of motorhome, what makes and models, what sizes and layouts and what prices might begin to meet your particular, individual needs and requirements.

Although our experience of every aspect of motorhome ownership makes us expert counsellors for potential buyers, we could not hope to address every question or query in a brief article such as this.

Your own requirements and circumstances, of course, are unique to you and they will inevitably play a large part in deciding the future motorhome you purchase.

But where do you start? What goes into researching the possibilities and choosing your next motorhome – and why is that choice ultimately likely to lead you to a motorhome made by Auto-Sleepers?

The research

Researching motorhomes is by no means difficult. Literally thousands of websites are ready to visit at the click of a mouse or the touch of your tablet.

Make a start now and you are soon likely to drill down to your shortlist of motorhomes to buy, others to keep an eye on for the future, and all manner of tips and suggestions on owning your own vehicle.

The internet

While the internet may be immediately and easily accessible – just search for “UK motorhomes” – it’s likely to produce a scattergun result of more than half a million links for you to follow.

Fortunately, therefore, there are other rich sources of research material:

Dealers

  • a visit to your motorhome dealer begins to focus your research and to make it altogether more meaningful;
  • a good way to start that process is to identify motorhome dealers, franchises, retailers, and manufacturers;
  • although the amount and quality of information is likely to vary quite widely from one dealer – and their website – to another, any reputable supplier probably posts well-illustrated content, which gives you the chance not only to read descriptions (in varying degrees of detail) but also to see makes and models which might pique your interest;
  • some dealers might also let you download or order catalogues of this year’s latest models of motorhome;

Reviews

  • there are also online magazines which publish reviews of motorhomes – with Practical Motorhome for one offering at least one major, detailed review each week;

Exhibitions

  • webpages and hard copy may give you many leads, but probably leave you itching to see the real thing for yourself;
  • check out the dates and places of some of the many motorhome and caravan shows that take place all around the country each year;
  • remember, too, that more permanent exhibition spaces are maintained by leading dealers – such as ourselves here at Derby Motorhomes, where our extensive indoor showrooms let you get up close and personal with a huge range of models, all under one roof which keeps out the wind and the rain for viewings on wintry days;
  • in fact, we are especially conscious of the need to provide our customers with a seamless experience between online research and browsing and the chance to see and sit in a selection of motorhomes for themselves – our website, the descriptions, illustrations and downloadable catalogues and the extensive facilities here at our site in Derby, are all designed to offer just that experience;

Clubs

  • as you continue researching motorhomes, you might want to mark some of the websites you visit as favourites to visit more regularly;
  • the Caravan and Motorhome Club, which was founded more than 100 years ago, maintains regularly updated sections of its website dedicated not only to subjects such as choosing and buying a motorhome but also listings of some of the campsites you might visit;
  • the Camping and Caravanning Clubdevotes perhaps even more space and consideration to motorhomes – including an especially detailed menu of articles on everything from choosing your motorhome, buying guides, driving tips, and care for your motorhome.

Your type of motorhome

For all the research you might be doing, it helps, of course, if you have at least a rough idea of the type of motorhome you are after and just how you – and your family – may be planning to use it.

The following are the broad categories into which motorhomes, in general, might be sub-divided:

Campervans

  • these are typically relatively small vehicles with basic sleeping facilities and possibly some additional catering and hygiene facilities too;
  • if you are unfamiliar with them, you may be able to picture one by thinking of those now-legendary VW camper vans of the late 1960s, which were immortalised by the Hippy Movement;
  • today’s campervans, though, are entirely different and almost sophisticated by comparison;
  • yet, they remain small vehicles and are likely to be best suited to couples who may not plan on taking children or others with them on their trips;

Van conversions

  • these are larger and much more luxuriously equipped than campervans – at least, in most cases;
  • they’re typically based around the idea of a smaller standard commercial van which has been extensively customised in order to provide sleeping and other accommodation-related facilities;
  • they are extremely popular and for many, are regarded as a sort of “entry-level motorhome”;

Coach-built motorhomes

  • certain providers manufacture luxury, coach-built motorhomes in the UK;
  • typically, these are vehicles that contain an engine, chassis and perhaps some other fundamental structural components. A coachbuilder will then take that and design and build luxury accommodation on to the chassis;
  • these are superb vehicles and offer things such as multiple berth accommodation, fully fitted kitchens and luxury shower/WC facilities;
  • by definition, these tend to be larger than van conversions and offer extremely viable holiday accommodation;

Recreational Vehicles (RVs)

  • the terminology can become confusing at times;
  • in the USA, “motorhomes” are commonly called “RVs”. In the UK, that term is starting to be used to describe motorhomes, too, but an added complication is that the term can also be exclusively applied to some of those exceptionally large motorhome vehicles that you may see on the road – with the size and appearance almost akin to a semi-articulated commercial vehicle;
  • when the vehicle described as an RV is an exceptionally large rig, it may well have been imported from the USA;
  • it is imperative, if you are considering purchasing one such, to be sure that it is fully road legal in the UK and European Union – you might also need a special licence to drive one;

Trailer tents and “collapsibles”

  • we include these here only for completeness and orientation because few would consider them to be a true “motorhome” in the context of choosing a new motorhome;
  • these vehicles are usually something along the lines of a small van or perhaps a trailer with collapsible or flexible walls packed away inside, which can be pulled out and opened up to construct what is essentially a tent.

Why you might choose Auto-Sleepers

So, you’ve done your research and you’ve homed in on the type of motorhome most likely to meet you and your family’s needs. What is it about Auto-Sleepers that is likely to make one of these models such a favourite choice?

Described on the website Out and About Live as the “mainstay” of motorhome manufacturing in the UK, there is no shortage of reasons for choosing to buy an Auto-Sleepers model.

It’s no accident – but a testament to the build quality and design of their motorhomes – that Auto-Sleepers last year won the Caravan Club’s Motorhome Design Awards in classes topped both by its Burford Duo, Nuevo ES, and Symbol Plus models.

So, let’s take a closer look at just why Auto-Sleepers make such a good buy:

Safety first

Quality

  • it is the quality of the craftsmanship that goes into every handmade model from Auto-Sleepers that probably draws most buyers – and wins the envious glances of other motorhome owners;
  • from their factory at Willersley, in the Cotswolds, the company has spent the past 50 years’ or so perfecting the art of producing custom-made motorhomes, to designs which have time and again proved to be ahead of their times – and always in a class of their own;

Derby Motorhomes

  • talk about the design and craftsmanship of Auto-Sleepers might come easily, but you don’t have to take our word for it – get up close and personal with the full range of models and see for yourself at our extensive showrooms and exhibition centre here at Derby Motorhomes in Derby;
  • as winter approaches and the wet and windy weather sets in, you can experience first-hand encounters with as many motorhomes as you like, all in the dry and heated comfort of our indoor space – and contentedly dream of those sunny summer days touring in the luxury of your own motorhome;

Your choice

  • browse the 2020 Auto-Sleeper listings now and you will get your first glimpse of the extremely wide range of new models available – including our awarding-winning panel van conversions and coach-built versions using the popular Peugeot chassis or your own bespoke form of luxury built on chassis from Mercedes;
  • the possibilities do not stop there – your choice of additional features and accessories combine to offer endless variations for personalising your Auto-Sleepers to your precise specifications;
  • a customised choice of fabrics for the furniture and furnishings, for example, or the addition of accessories such as bicycle carriers, in-vehicle entertainment systems and solar panels;

Transparent pricing

  • here at Derby Motorhomes, we are especially keen to keep things perfectly clear and straight forward when it comes to perhaps your biggest concern – pricing;
  • so, we identify every component of the total price you are likely to pay – the basic price, plus VAT, the ex-works price, the cost of delivery (if necessary), the cost of any additional features or accessories you have chosen, and the final, effective price on the road of your Auto-Sleepers.

Just as Auto-Sleepers has gained its status as the mainstay of motorhome manufacturing in the UK, so Derby Motorhomes strives to keep its place as one of the country’s leading dealerships.

Yet we recognise that choosing a new motorhome is not something to be rushed.

Even with entry-level purchases, choosing a new motorhome is going to involve spending a significant amount of money and it’s important that you get it right in terms of your requirements.

Our primary objective is to ensure you get a vehicle that you are happy with rather than simply to sell you a motorhome. We’d welcome the opportunity to prove that by discussing this entire subject with you further – just visit our showrooms in Derby or give us a call on 01332 360222.

So, it’s that time of year again – you know the one, the one where we sit down together as a family, group of friends or couple, glass of chilled sangria in hand, holiday brochures or i-pad at the ready and try to decide where we fly off to for our annual holidays this year.

Only, this year things are going to be a little different and I don’t know about you, but for me, I certainly won’t be boarding a bargain, budget or charter flight with 200 hundred other excited souls, potentially coughing and wheezing in all sections of the cabin whilst sharing the same recycled air and occupying the very same seat that, less than an hour previously, was vacated by goodness knows who!

Finally, after an hour and a half of what I like to call “sight-seeing” (which is in fact sitting on a cramped, baking hot coach with fifty other assorted families and couples, tired, frustrated, bursting for the toilet and praying that your name isn’t called out for this particularly grim looking destination you’ve just stopped at), you arrive at your hotel only to find the room isn’t ready yet and when it is, it looks out over the next-door building site or municipal dump!

As a side issue, these photographers must have amazing skills as the accommodation is never quite like the pictures in the brochure or on-line, which reminds me, I must try to track down one of those photographers some-day – my passport photo is terrible!

The water is undrinkable, the beer, cocktails and house spirits worse, the bed uncomfortable, the air conditioning doesn’t work, the neighbouring room houses a family of banshee’s who never seem to sleep; the hotel food is usually lukewarm and finally, when you take a closer look, the bedding doesn’t really seem that clean after all, the mattress doesn’t bear thinking about and the room – well, it doesn’t look to have had a thorough clean in decades!

The lifts are crammed full of holiday makers from all over Europe, all happily touching every button and surface produced by mankind while breathing and coughing across everyone within close proximity and then, while desperately trying not look anyone directly in the eyes, you’re left wondering what hygiene standards the chefs, waiters, reception, pool and bar staff apply and finally, to top it all off, social distancing is itself a very distant memory once the beer and sangria kick-in.  Happy holidays everyone!

In fact, whilst on this subject, the very last place I could reasonably consider for a well – earned vacation right now would be aboard a cruise ship for that matter – luxurious as I’m sure they are, I couldn’t possibly imagine spending all of that time in such close proximity to a couple of thousand other poor souls also with no escape and all of their associated germs to dodge for a week or more whilst most of the above likely still applies!

And then there’s the excursions to worry about; a coach here, a taxi there, tours around the local must-see’s and snacks and drinks in lovely little tavernas and bars who’s owners and staff possibly think more about tips and profits than anything else – after all, you’re going to be a distant memory in an hour’s time!

I’m sorry if this paints a pretty awful picture and forgive me for using a few clichés, but tell me this hasn’t happened to most us at some time or another and tell me you aren’t having exactly the same misgivings – or am I just being cynical?

Anyway, enough of my hand-wringing doom and gloom, but I’m just saying, there must be an awful lot of other folks out there, also of a certain age and disposition thinking exactly the same as me – come on, I can’t be the only miserable git out there who’s really concerned about catching something incredibly nasty and shuffling off this mortal coil way too early (my opinion, not necessarily that of the current lady of the house).

So, with all of this to the fore of my reasoning, one – word springs to mind – staycation!

However, even that has some drawbacks; where to stay-cate for example, with whom and for how long are just a few of my thoughts.

But it doesn’t have to be that difficult, not when you could buy a motorhome and have as many holidays as you and your spouse could possibly ever desire.

If you think about it, it’s almost the perfect solution – your very own personal space, (or isolation pod as I like to think of them), closed to everyone but you and those lucky enough to be invited in, after thorough vetting that is!

Total freedom and flexibility, the freedom to go exactly where you want and do exactly what you want to do and the flexibility to do this whenever you wish and for as long as you want to, too.

If you really think about this, a campsite could also be the perfect place to enjoy freedom and isolation.

You don’t have to use the site’s facilities – toilets, showers, shops, bars etc. because your very own motorhome usually comes complete with its own toilet and shower, kitchen with cooker and fridge (sometimes a freezer too), tv if you fancy that and they can even be fitted with wind-out awnings for additional sun shelter. Some can even have gas BBQ points fitted for alfresco cooking.

You supply your own food and drinks so, nothing you don’t really want passes your lips and the shopping, if you don’t take it with you, can be delivered directly to your door if the need or desire’s still there to socially distance.

Your neighbours are usually several meters away from your pitch with their door on the opposite side too, so social distancing, again, isn’t going to be an issue and camp sites are usually to be found close to beautiful countryside or coastal areas – some even have fishing lakes attached and most non-motor homers would very surprised at just how good the vast majority of modern sites really are.

So, a motorhome doesn’t have to be huge, it can be and can also have every extra know to mankind too; but then there’s it’s size to consider, it can affect where you travel – too big and English country lanes could prove a challenge; too small and either you won’t have sufficient storage space for clothes and things or, more accurately, the love of your life will but you won’t or, joking apart, too small could potentially restrict the length of time spent away from home.

Well, a motorhome could be considered as “roughing it” by some I suppose but when you actually bother to take a closer look at some of them, well, nothing could be further from the truth.

Take Auto-Sleepers for example – they are the oldest UK motorhome manufacturer; every-one is hand built and quality oozes from every angle. Luxurious Belgian fabrics, quality furniture, kitchens a top chef would be proud of and space abound – even in the smallest of models.

Then there’s their fabulous standard features such as large wind-out awnings, mobile wi-fi, solar panels, re-fillable gas tanks, built-in satellite navigation systems, air conditioning – cab and habitation areas too in their Mercedes range; there’s even the option of remote, self-seeking satellite TV systems if you really don’t want to miss anything.

What could be finer than sitting under your very-own sun awning drinking wine (or gin, beer, cider or any other favourite tipple for that matter) and simply “chilling out” whilst listening to your favourite music or reading the latest novel on your kindle?

If that’s not your “thing” then how about a day exploring the local countryside or walking and cycling to places of interest; maybe visit the local beach (social distancing permitting of course) or town centre for that all-important retail therapy hit, (if the shops are open and you have a face-mask).

Then there’s galleries and museums to consider or the local country estate, farm shop or National Trust venue – really, the list of potential activities is endless as are the wonderful places one could pitch-up in the UK alone.

You never know too, the urge to go abroad could still prove too great to resist, in which case there’s always the “tunnel” for quick, easy access to France and beyond or endless ferry routes for a more relaxed trip across the water.

Imagine, a lovely warm evening, sun slowly setting, the sound of the ocean in the distance, dining al-fresco with a really great burgundy, fresh-baked French bread, a lovely cheese and a simple salad, all right on your own doorstep and for as long as you feel like it……

And don’t forget, motorhomes are welcomed throughout Europe and Europe’s an awfully big continent to explore and finding beautiful, isolated spots to call your own for a few days before moving on isn’t difficult and the driving? Well that’s all part of the holiday.

Remember too, once you have a motorhome, you also have the potential for hundreds of holidays, long or short, here, there, anywhere in fact – a long weekend or simple overnighter somewhere local or just a day out in the countryside for that matter, the choice is yours and endless!

So, I hope I’ve planted a seed of optimism for a brighter future this summer and holiday season; and one final fact, a motorhome is nothing like a car in terms of depreciation or residual value and if I’m honest, whilst they aren’t that cheap to buy initially, they should be considered more as an investment and once owned, they will retain a huge proportion of their original value and for a darned sight longer than your average family run-around or caravan and definitely longer than your two weeks package to the sun!

You’ll definitely have so very many more memories from a motorhome too so, when you sit down to consider the summer holidays, take a closer look at the motor home option and in particular Auto-Sleepers’ motor home range at Derby Motorhomes, you’re going to be very pleasantly surprised.

Staycation – happy holidays everyone.

If you’ve been bitten by the motorhome bug, then sooner or later you’ll be thinking about buying one.

Here, we offer our tips about buying a motorhome – together with some thoughts and suggestions about driving it when you’re sat behind the wheel of your very own home away from home.

Stating the obvious

Buying a motorhome is exciting! More often than not, it’s a case of a dream come true.

Without taking away one iota of that great feeling, the purchase invariably represents a major financial commitment. To state the obvious, therefore, you’ll be taking the purchase very seriously indeed – and our following tips are offered in full recognition of that fact.

Research and research again

It might be easy for your eagerness to get the better of you. That can push you into over-hasty buying decisions.

Remember that a motorhome isn’t just about price and fittings. Many other things need to be considered including:

  • fuel consumption;
  • depreciation statistics;
  • reliability; and
  • ease of re-sale.

Don’t try and do all this based upon a single motorhome solution you have in mind or in a spare 5-10 minutes. Instead, put some serious time to one side and research the market and your options thoroughly.

How are you going to use it?

It’s highly advisable to sit down and seriously think about how your motorhome will fit into your recreational plans. That might sound glaringly obvious, but a little thought might show it to be otherwise.

For example, do you see yourself:

  • taking very extended holidays in it;
  • using it overseas;
  • inviting others, such as family members, to join you on trips at times; or
  • taking a lot of home comforts with you every trip.

These deliberations are important because they might play a big part in influencing your choice of motorhome. For example, purchasing one that’s too small or incorrectly configured in terms of the number of berths might restrict how often you can invite others to join you.

Critically assess your requirements

There is a huge amount of choice available, both in terms of vehicles and their equipment.

Inevitably, each model will have its pros and cons in terms of how it fits into your requirements. Assessing that isn’t something you can easily do from a zero-knowledge base just by looking around a motorhome or two on a dealer’s site.

It’s advisable to do some serious internet research about the models you’re starting to become provisionally interested in and to take the advice of an experienced provider of motorhomes.

The size and type of motorhome you select should be heavily influenced by your own requirements and capabilities. That is likely to depend on your understanding of things such as:

  • whether you are happy driving large vehicles or would prefer a modestly-sized motorhome;
  • how often will you use it and typically over what distances/durations;
  • whether you have a driveway or garage big enough to accommodate it (remember, some local councils might have restrictions on driveway parking of motorhomes and your neighbours might object too). If not, is there a secure motorhome storage facility relatively close to you and does it have vacancies?; or
  • if it is going to be used largely by you alone, you and a partner or you and a larger family.

All these factors and many others like them need to be clear in your own mind before hitting the showroom trail.

Be cautious about buying small as a default option

Our motorhome buying tips would not be complete without a very gentle warning about buying a vehicle that is too compact – unless you’re sure that it’ll meet your needs in the medium to longer term.

If you purchase a motorhome that’s perhaps a tad too large for your average needs, then it might represent a marginal cost-inefficiency but having a vehicle that proves to be too small in many cases can be a near insurmountable problem, short of replacing it.

Once again, take advice.

Incline towards established brands

This is sometimes a slightly controversial point in motorhome buying tips, but it remains the case that buying certainty and a track record in areas such as build quality and power plant (engine), can reduce risks.

Look carefully at any customization

Naturally, this typically only applies to pre-used models but it’s worth noting that some previous owners might have “tweaked” things around the motorhome.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that – providing it was done properly and with approved fittings and parts that meet the manufacturer’s standards.

It’s worth being aware that in many cases, DIY customisation and “improvements” reduce the value of a motorhome. In fact, many dealers will remove them from the vehicle and return it to its factory specification before a re-sale. That should tell you something!

Private purchases versus dealerships

Once again, there’s no universal answer here.

Broadly speaking, buying a used vehicle privately might offer you some ticket-price cost savings. However, against that, you’ll need to keep in mind that you’ll typically have no post-sale support or service and your post-sale legal rights when dealing with a private individual are limited to non-existent.

To help protect your interests if buying privately, carefully check and confirm that:

  • the seller is who they say they are and reside at a verifiable address;
  • they own the motorhome they’re selling and are not just its registered keeper;
  • there is no outstanding finance on it;
  • it has not been previously “written off” in insurance terms following an accident or other disaster; and
  • that nothing has been “massaged” – such as the vehicle’s age, mileage, or other critical details.

You may pay a little more in terms of the price through a dealership, but you should get that legal protection of your rights and post-sales support.

Know your technical limitations

You certainly don’t need to be a qualified engineer to enjoy a motorhome! Even so, when buying, there will be technical issues that need to be taken into consideration.

If you’re mechanically and vehicle minded, then fine. If you’re not, call upon the help of either someone who is or a quality retailer of motorhomes with the experience to guide you through some of the technology and what it might mean in terms of affecting your eventual decision.

Prepare your funding options in advance

Finding the wherewithal to finance your purchase, of course, depends on your personal means and circumstances.

You might want to be a little cautious about using your cash reserves or retirement kitty. It may make sense to use one of the various motorhome finance options that might be available to you such as HP, a personal loan or lease purchase, for example.

Look into your options, potential funds providers and be sure you’re clear about your overall financial position, before starting to look at vehicles in dealers’ showrooms or on websites.

Motorhome driving tips

Now you’ve bought your motorhome, what about the challenge of driving one?

In fact, you’re 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 yourself 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 Club or the Camping and Caravanning Club;
  • these manoeuvring courses aim to teach you all about handling a larger vehicle – forwards and in reverse – simple maintenance, routine safety checks, the law, and include 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 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; so,
  • Park and Ride schemes are 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.