At Derby Motorhomes, there’s nothing we enjoy doing better than helping our clients and potential clients learn more about motorhomes. So, we’ve built up quite an extensive database of frequently asked questions or “motorhome FAQs”.

We couldn’t do better than to share some of those frequently asked questions.

What driving licence do I need?

The answer is just a little more complicated than you might have imagined and depends on your age, when you passed your driving test, and the weight of the motorhome you intend to drive.

If you passed your test before the 1st of January 1997, then you’re fine for driving a motorhome up to a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) – the weight of the vehicle, plus its maximum loading capacity – of 7,500kg. If you gained your licence after that date, you are limited to motorhomes with a MAM of up to 3,500kg only.

If you passed your driving test after the 1st of January 1997, not only are you limited to motorhomes with a MAM of up to 3,500kg, but you must also pass an additional driving test category (C1) to drive a motorhome weighing between 3,500kg and 7,500kg.

If you are considering one of those super-large American motorhomes, you’ll typically need a category C licence (a Light Goods Vehicle).

You need to hold a full, Category B driving licence and be at least 18 years of age to apply for a provisional licence in Category C1 and must be at least 21 years of age to hold a Category C driving licence.

Please note, this information is correct at the time of writing – June 2020.

How easy are they to drive?

In terms of the basics, they’re not significantly different from a car, and most or all of the controls will be familiar. The designers have also put huge amounts of effort into making them easy to drive.

It’s worth remembering, however, that once they’re fully laden, they’ll be much heavier than most conventional cars and their handling characteristics will be different as a result. It’s not a question of easier or harder, it’s just that they’ll feel “different”.

The larger the motorhome you choose, the more you’ll notice that handling difference over and above a car.

Almost everybody gets to grips with this very quickly. There are courses you can take to help, and they might be advisable – particularly for the larger motorhomes. Motorhome manoeuvring courses are offered both by the Caravan and Motorhome Club and by the Camping and Caravanning Club. Don’t also forget that you may need to change your driving licence category (as we explained above).

What are these giant US motorhomes I see on TV?

In the US, motorhomes are typically called “Recreational Vehicles” or “RVs”.

Some are almost the length and weight of an articulated lorry, and biggest of these types of US RV would not be road-legal in the UK or EU.

Some that are imported into the UK are road-legal, of course. Keep in mind that parts and servicing might be an issue and that in some cases they may not be drivable with a standard licence.

Are the bigger motorhomes the most expensive?

This one is commonly encountered in motorhome FAQs – and, as a general rule, of course, the answer is yes – but that’s not always the case.

For example, a slightly smaller model that’s a prestigious marque and superbly and luxuriously equipped might command a higher price than a slightly larger campervan.

It’s rather like comparing say a small Porsche to a large Ford. In the case of some campervans, you’re paying for engineering, build quality and design, not its cubic volume inside.

Can I drive my motorhome anywhere, on any public road?

Yes! Of course, you will have to comply with any road signs indicating that there is a limit on height or weight of a vehicle (if your motorhome exceeds it).

Some “unmade-up” roads in poor condition or off-road tracks might also be unadvisable for larger vehicles, including motorhomes. That’s largely a question of common sense.

How much does a good motorhome cost?

That is such a difficult question to answer because so much depends upon the type of vehicle you’re interested in.

To give an extremely broad view, a new 2-4 berth quality marque Auto-Sleeper is likely to cost from £55,000 upwards. For most of us, that’s likely to be our most expensive ever purchase after our house – and that’s why expert advice and guidance on your purchase is likely to prove so important.

Is it cheaper to buy second hand?

It is – but subject to a couple of caveats:

  • motorhomes hold their values well if they’ve been looked after. Don’t expect to see the same percentage depreciation on a two-year-old motorhome as you might expect to see with a two-year-old car;
  • be sensible when purchasing a second-hand motorhome from a private individual. Unless you’re an expert, that could be risky in mechanical terms, and you’ll get little or no post-sales support.

As a final tip, of course, remember that if a second-hand motorhome price seems too good to be true – that is highly likely to be the case.

Why do I see advertisements for seasonal motorhome storage?

Comparatively few people wish to use their motorhomes in the winter months.

Just like any other vehicle that’s parked-up and not in use, the weather can start to take its toll. Given the cost of such vehicles, many owners prefer to put them into secure and weather-proof storage units over the winter months.

Your insurance provider might also offer you discounts for doing so!

How do the toilets work?

Yes, this one has a certain fascination for potential first-time buyers, and it features regularly in our motorhome FAQs!

There are, in fact, a number of different types:

  • the cassette. Here, the waste is collected in a storage cassette which is extracted externally and taken into a waste site to be manually emptied. This is probably the most common;
  • the portapotti. This is like a portable toilet in two parts. The lower part contains the waste and it, too, is manually extracted externally and emptied. The top part contains the bowl and water;
  • the marine. This is slightly different because the waste is stored externally and then emptied by connecting it to a special on-site facility so it can be drained. Note that this system presumes you are on a site with suitable “evacuating” connections.

In terms of which to select, a lot depends upon how you think you’re going to use your motorhome. If you’re planning to stay on big, established, and well-equipped sites then all three might be fine. If you’re planning to get off the beaten track and use smaller sites, then one of the first two options might be more suitable.

Is a shower going to work properly?

Yes, but you will need to be realistic – particularly in the smaller motorhomes.

Water is heavy and takes up a lot of space. As such, the supply is limited, and you’ll want to use it sparingly while on the road. That means that those long, high-pressure showers you take at home are unlikely to be matched by the shower experience in most motorhomes.

Having said that, most people find them perfectly adequate.

We hope these motorhome Faqs have proved useful!