New caravans and leaks.

Jul 25, 2016
Over recent weeks I have been looking at the possibility of changing my caravan and considered some units that cost in the region of £30k which is a lot of £££. As I read the different forums I am put off by the sad stories of new vans leaking and suffering with damp. Every manufacturer seems to suffer with the problem which makes me conclude;
1. All the different designs and structures cannot be flawed.
2. The only consistent is the workforce.
3. Manufacturers want to make a profit and wages are the most efficient way to keep overheads low.
With say one in twenty caravans leaking - why do the nineteen not leak, same materials, products, procedures.

It is highly likely that the human element causes the issue. Can manufacturers rectify ? I doubt it.
Then I ask myself why do motorhomes not suffer the same level of criticism and problems, they appear to be made using many similar techniques in construction. Are the workforce more skilled ?

Why does the Caravan Club and similar organisations not survey owners more often, name and shame similar to J D Power ? We as consumers should be represented by these organisations.

We also may need more skilled independent Caravan Surveyors and have every purchase inspected. I have bought boats in the past and always paid for a survey on new and old. We do the same with our homes !
Is it possible that £200-£300 on a full survey may be money well spent and give us the opportunity to immediately reject the shining new box.
I think for now my money will stay in my bank account.


Mar 14, 2005
With any public forum you will generally only hear of problem vans, be that caravans or motorhomes.
As the old saying goes, bad news travels fast !!!

Very rarely does one hear of the hundreds of vans that do not present problems.

Having been a service engineer for a lot of years I have seen just as many motorhomes with leaking problems and all the associated equipment failures as caravans, some more so due to having the vehicle mechanics as part of the unit.

Another aspect to consider is that a caravan is just a quite flimsy box on a chassis with next to no suspension as such and if you follow a caravan being towed you see just how much the van bounces along with all the stress flexing that entails.

Motorhomes are built on the vehicle chassis and have the advantage of good suspension and a much more rigid base leading to much less flexing and uncontrolled bouncing.

The majority of vans are built on a piece rate so the faster they turn a van out, the better the wages.
For instance, Bailey run a new van off the production line every 10 minutes.

It does not matter how good the individual parts are, the putting together is down to human input and speed of production will have consequences to the detriment of the build.

As for independent inspection, any buyer is quite within their right to ask a qualified engineer to inspect their prospective purchase, but if buying new what would that achieve, the van has not been out in the weather and any leaks generally do not show up straight away on a damp test, the water has to find its way out !!
May 7, 2012
This magazine has run owners surveys for the last three years and each year publishes the results. What amazes me is that the top two and the bottom one remains the same. The ones at the top do not appear to be improving but staying the same so you get the impression they are resting on their laurels. The one at the bottom seems to be there by a clear margin and again does not seem to be improving. You would think any firm in that position would try to improve but judging from the results and posts on forums it is not the case.
Jun 2, 2015
I have had my Adria for a year now and have had two leaks. the first was the connection form the water heater which was a component failure and easily fixed, the second was the drain pipe from the bathroom sink which I had done on warranty so that if there is any problems with damp because of the failure there is record of it. I was talking to a chap earlier on in the season and he had had a few new motor homes and had found teething problems with most of them, minor things but still issues that needed sorting out. That is what warranty is for.
Nov 6, 2005
Leaks in vans seems to be getting worse not better with the new technology, they all seem to have problems, baileys have an issue with the toilet door in the back panel, apparently Bailey have a purpose built unit to deal with the amount of vans coming back.
Swift still have problems with the floor getting damp due to the sidewalls not covering the edge of the floor and i believe its Lunar that have the long heki roof that is sealed to the roof with a rubber seal that has failed and perished already?
My van has had damp for the last 3 out of 4 years seems its the norm not acceptable but its happening to all makes so i wont invest my hard earned pennies in another £30k van.
Mar 14, 2005
Hi Sorry to begin with a pedantic point but I disagree that labour costs are an overhead point 3 your post. Any manufacturing cost model consists of Labour, Materials, Overheads,. All cost variables drill down within these headings.
In my own experience we bought a brand new van from a West country manufacturer and maintained it diligently for 7 years only to be shocked to find on the 7th annual service we had 30% damp in the rear corner. Of course our damp warranty had ceased after six years so tough luck to us.
Last year we looked to buy again and found a van manufacturer that offered 10 years damp warranty.(providing all annual services were completed within a given time frame) that closed the deal for us, once bitten twice shy. My advice from this experience is always look to change your van before your damp warranty ends. If you buy an older van you must in my opinion get an independent survey to not only give you an unbiased damp report but also to confirm the relevant status of other items of equipment you will inherit. Check what the calibration status is of their damp meter. If your dealer will not co-operate with this walk away. I know that our old van taken in part exchange was repaired and later sold......
Always remember buyer beware.
By the way interestingly Lunar was the other van we shortlisted but chose our current van mostly on the basis of the longer damp warranty. Not the colour of the curtains/cushions etc. (you know what I mean) Think they would only offer 6 years, sounds familiar......
Mar 14, 2005
Paul_5041263 said:
Hi Sorry to begin with a pedantic point but I disagree that labour costs are an overhead point 3 your post. Any manufacturing cost model consists of Labour, Materials, Overheads,. All cost variables drill down within these headings....

Hello Paul your three point cost model is of course correct, but the proportions of the costs attributable to each centre will depend on the product in question.

Caravan manufacture is relatively labour intensive, so its quite possible the labour costs will represent a significant proportion of the ex works cost.


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