How can you tell how old a caravan is?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: How can you tell how old a caravan is? We will explain how to decode the VIN number of a caravan, where to find it and the importance of a serial number for a caravan. 

How can you tell how old a caravan is?

There are two ways to tell how old a caravan is, depending on the year of manufacture of the caravan:

  • If the caravan was manufactured before 1991 – you can tell how old your caravan is by the first two digits of the VIN number (e.g. 89SG6578 = 1989);
  • If the caravan was manufactured after 1991 – to tell how old the caravan is, you will have to decipher the VIN number. This is a rather simple procedure if you are using the symbols in the two tables below. 

VIN number: Manufacturer codes

EXExplorer Group
SWSwift Group

VIN number: Year codes


What exactly is a VIN code?

VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number or CRiS number. It is a unique code to your caravan and gives important information about the year and the place of manufacture of the caravan.


  • The first two characters of the VIN stand for country of manufacture
  • 3rd character: Make of Vehicle
  • 4th character: axle specification
  • 5th 6th and 7th character: optional manufacturer information
  • 8th and 9th character: Manufacturer information
  • 10th character: year of the model (run from 1st September to 31st August the following year)
  • 11th-17th character: serial number.

You can find the VIN of your caravan on the bottom right corner of each window. If you find it difficult what the characters of your VIN stand for, try this online decoder.

What is the serial number of a caravan and why is it important?

When we go to buy a caravan it is important to check that the chassis number that appears on the papers is the same as that printed on the bottom of our caravan. This way we will make sure of what we are buying.

If our caravan weighs less than 750 kg, it will not be registered or registered anywhere. Even so, as we have commented on multiple occasions, you must always have your regulatory technical sheet (be careful with this).

To circulate, we will not only use reduced technical sheets, nor contracts of sale as many believe. Not even the manufacturer’s certificate. The only thing that will allow us to circulate in Spain legally is a technical sheet.

It is the same documentation that the cars have, the classic green card where the characteristics of our trailer appear: weight, measurements, type of wheels … and the chassis number,

This number, as happens in cars, will normally appear printed on the chassis of the caravan or on a plate attached with rivets to it. Sometimes it can come over the bottom of the caravan.

It is very important to check that the number on the card matches that of the chassis when buying a used caravan.

Scams when buying a caravan are common (be careful with them). They can give us the papers of another and not find out if we do not review them. That is the problem with buying and selling a caravan weighing less than 750 kg. You only need the technical sheet and a sales contract.

It is not necessary to register or register it anywhere. Not even insurance or paying road tax. For this reason, they are very easy to steal, so always flee from the famous “caravans without papers” that cannot legally circulate and check those that do.

What to look for when buying an older caravan

In most cases, second-hand caravans are usually in good condition since the owners tend to take care of them (as you may very well do when you buy yours). The reasons for putting them up for sale, logically, vary depending on each case; people who bought it to try this world, economic reasons, they hardly use it, in exchange for a motorhome, etc.

Therefore, we can find old caravans in good condition both looking for sales from individuals and professionals in the sector.

Buying a second-hand caravan from a professional company may be a bit more expensive, but it has the advantage that if a problem arises, you enjoy the guarantee, so you will be legally more protected in case of any inconvenience. As a general rule, dealers or sales professionals carry out an inspection of the caravan in advance.

Different appearance if you decide to buy the caravan from an individual, the price is possibly cheaper but you would not enjoy the warranty period, although you can always claim if the problems are due to hidden defects, this is another matter, however.

In either case, try to find out as much as you can about the Caravan that is being sold.

  • Ask the use that has been given to the caravan.
  • If it has been used lately.
  • If they have travelled long distances.
  • Where has it been stored, whether indoors or outdoors.
  • If any type of repair or maintenance has been carried out.
  • If they have all the documentation in order (that is very important).

The first question you have to determine is whether that caravan has been parked for a long time in a campsite or in a parking lot.

If so, it is possible that its maintenance or care has been somewhat neglected so you can find a caravan that looks quite dirty and abandoned, but nothing is discarded until you see it carefully.

Check that there is no dampness or mould. One of the most important and exhaustive controls that you must do when checking a second-hand caravan is the humidity in the set. Repairs to humidity in Caravans are very expensive, if you notice the slightest smell of humidity when entering it pay close attention and check it thoroughly.

The bottom line

Now that you know how to determine the age of a caravan, we wanted to remind you to pay attention to both the interior and the exterior of the caravan. If you plan on buying or selling a second-hand caravan, its condition will speak more than the year of manufacture.

Do you agree? Please let us know if you have any comments or questions on the content. 

FAQ on How can you tell how old a caravan is?

What is the lifespan of a caravan?
The average lifespan of a caravan is 14 years. A model that is between 5 and 7 years old represents the best price-performance ratio. However, it is not uncommon to see people driving 30 and 40 years old caravans. 

Why buy a caravan?

The caravan has the advantage of offering travellers a large optimized interior space, comfort, versatility and freedom of movement. At the same size, it offers more available space than the RV.

When to buy a caravan?

When to buy a caravan? Caravans sell particularly well during the months of April, March and May, but are cheaper in the winter months.

How to travel with a caravan?

To travel with a caravan, make sure the vehicle is in good condition. A caravan is the best way to travel at your own pace. Going on vacation in this vehicle requires good preparation. It is recommended that you choose a caravan with all possible amenities: beds, living room, small kitchen, etc.


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