Buying a used caravan awning can present you with a way of easily saving money, whether it be online or via a private sale, as opposed to purchasing a brand new one. However, you need to take a few precautions before you decide to shell out your hard-earned cash.

Awnings are available in a variety of sizes, and offer a great way of achieving extra space when you’re on tour – and if you’re looking for inspiration for your next destination, our best caravan parks guide is the place to start.

If you’re thinking of buying a pre-owned one, here are our tips on finding the right used caravan awning for you – alternatively, if you’re looking for a new one, be sure to take a look at our guide to the best caravan awnings.

1 Awning size matters

Before you do anything else, check that the awning you’re planning to buy will fit your caravan – this is particularly important if you want to buy a traditional framed awning.

You need to work out your van’s A-measurement, which is the distance from the ground beneath one end of the awning rail, right around the rail, and down to the ground again.

For porch awnings, you’ll need the height of the awning rail, and the length across the horizontal section of the rail.

A large awning

Next, give some thought to where your awning will sit once it’s in position – you might not want it overlapping windows, so bear this in mind.

2 How much does is weigh?

Think about the weight of the awning, and how much space you have available in your caravan or tow car.

Awnings are heavy, so you’ll need to make sure that you have plenty of payload in your tourer if you decide to carry it there; you’ll also need room to store it on the van floor, towards the front, where the weight is most safely positioned.

The bag the awning goes in

Ask the seller to give you the dimensions of the bag, if they aren’t available in the listing, to allow you to double-check that you have room in your tow car if you are storing it there.

3 Stay safe online

If you’re planning to buy online, check as carefully as you can that the seller seems reputable – on eBay, look at all seller feedback.

Be sure to pay via a service such as Paypal, and never send money directly by bank transfer or similar as a deposit or more – ensure your cash is protected.

If you’re buying privately, ask to meet the seller at their house. And remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

4 Do your research

Always check around for the price of similar awnings before handing over your cash. You might feel that one you’ve spotted is good value, but do a quick check around for sold prices on eBay and similar.

On a related note, going for the cheapest one you can find might not pay dividends if it’s a relatively unknown brand – a better known (potentially more expensive) make could increase the amount of parts available in future if needed.

5 Go to a dealer

For the greatest peace of mind, buy your awning from a reputable dealer. You might end up paying a bit more, but you’ll know you’re buying from a firm with a reputation to protect.

Dealers will normally inspect what they are selling and know exactly where any faults are, and whether there are missing components – which they will usually be able to put right.

6 Be happy with it, or just walk away

We would strongly recommend carefully inspecting the awning you’re planning to purchase, whether from a dealer or private seller. This will be particularly important if you’re buying via classified ads, away from the safety of the likes of eBay.

Never hand over any cash until you’re completely happy with what you’re buying – and don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal if you’re not.

7 Start your inspection

So you’ve decided which awning you’d like to look at, and made an appointment with the seller to see it. Excellent! Now here’s what you need to know when viewing your potential buy…

If you can, and they are happy to oblige, ask to see the awning erected – it will help you view it more easily.

Inspecting a pre-owned awning for damage

No matter what, you should start by inspecting it thoroughly all over for damage; this means checking not only the main fabric, but also the windows, skirts and any groundsheet.

8 Use your nose

Keep an eye out for damp and – perhaps more importantly – use your nose to try to detect it, too. This could indicate a leak that hasn’t been properly repaired and might result in long-term damage or weak points in the awning.

9 Continue your inspection

Be sure to check that all zips run up and down properly, and the mudflaps and skirts are all available and in good condition. Double-check the roof beading (the part you pull through the channel on your caravan) for any damage.

A close look at the awning material

Have a look at all of the stitching to check that it’s intact. And take a look at all of the pegging points, too – are they ripped or torn?

10 Be realistic

You’re buying a used caravan awning , so you’re unlikely to get perfection – bear in mind that a couple of small faults won’t mean the awning is unusable.

But do assess what they are – a bit of discoloration in the fabric isn’t the end of the world, but a broken zip might be too costly to repair to make buying the awning worthwhile.

11 Check the poles carefully

If you’re buying a framed awning, check all the poles are there and that none is bent or damaged. If you’re buying an air awning for a caravan, ask to pump up the poles to their full capacity.

The awning poles

In either case, ask if the seller still has the instructions, which are always useful, and find out whether the bag is included.

12 Waterproof it at home

Once you get it home, give your new-to-you awning a coating of waterproofing spray – you’ll find plenty of these available relatively cheaply online.

After more ideas for accessories to buy? Then why not take a look at these:

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