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1. Posted by Simon1974 (Budding Member 18 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


I plan to do a trip to Oz about September time for about 4 months. I was considering buying an old cheap van when I got there to travel and sleep in to keep costs down. Then sell it when I'm done.

Has anyone else done this? I would like to know how to go about it best.

Thanks a lot,


2. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4138 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Have a look in the Trading Post.


You may want to consult a mechanic and give the van the once over to see that it's okay. Be sure to get one with as much registration on it as possible.

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Feb-2009, at 00:44 by james ]

Posts 3 - 5 were removed by moderators
6. Posted by lynharris2 (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I bought a movan in New Zealand, kept it for six years and actually sold it at a profit. I wasn't in it for the money, just knew it was cheaper than renting. I wrote a book about it about 4 years ago it was so simple. (RV in NZ)
You take the van to an independent valuer when you're ready to sell, they set the price, then you take it to a dealer. No messing around like in the states. I went home, they sold it about a month later then transferred the money to my bank
Some Kiwis ship their movans to OZ for the winter. The New Zealand Motorcaravan Assn. has their own storage facility in the western part of OZ. Their sister organization, Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia is similar. Their site used to be:
If you're staying that long, check the membership. If it's like NZ, the organization is cheap and there's lots of special things like cheap insurance, mail forwarding and lists for freedom camping. You'll also probably find vans for sale on their site.
Carolyn Harris (Lyn)

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

Post 7 was removed by a moderator
8. Posted by DRMorris (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Haven't had any experience in Australia but in NZ I operate a buyback business where I sell such vans and, if required, will buy them back.

Selling them at the end of the trip isd always the trick. Sounds like youi'll be selling in January and if Oz is anything like NZ there'll be plenty of backpackers looking for a set of wheels to buy so you won't have a problem there . . . but allow at least a week to get rid of it. Otherwise you may find that you have to drive it to the airport and leave it behind in the carpark. It happenes. The Auckland airport carpark has half a dozen to a dozen such vehicles in it at any one time.

The advice about a mechanic is true . . . the most expensive vehicle to buy is usually the cheapest. And you can read that either way. Buying a cheapie may end up costing you a small fortune. Australia is a big place, you'll ask this vehicle to do a lot of kms in hot conditions. If there are weaknesses in it, they'll show through. It may be better to budget a bit more on the purchase price to ensure that you get a mechanically sound vehicle.

Pre-purchase checks, however, are an added expense, and they're not cheap. Here are some simple checks to do to at least sort out the worst of the goats from among the sheep:

First thing I look for is a service sticker on the window. When a vehicle gets a service the mechanic should put a sticker on the window to record when the next service is due. That will give you an idea about how long ago it last got serviced. Badly maintained vehicles are more likely to crap out.

Just look at the vehicle - if it looks like a heap of crap from the outside it probably is. Not always true, but not a bad start. A neat and tidy vehicle is a good start.

Beware, however, a vehicle that is all newly tarted up. New paint, steam cleaned engine, etc. This can be a sign that it was a clunker that's been given a quick makeover on the outside, but it's still a clunker on the inside.

People often make a thing about the mileage. Mileage is almost irrelevant. A well maintained Japanese car with 300,000 kms is a lot better bet than a badly maintained European car with 90,000kms. In Oz I guess if you stick to Holden you won't go far wrong . . they really aren't Australian cars. In Britain they are Vauxhall, in Germany Opel, in Japan Isuzu and in the US Pontiac.

Pull out the oil dipstick and look at the oil . . . if it's milky give the thing a wide berth. That means water has got into the oil supply and that usually means a blown head gasket. Similarly if there is a milky residue on the underside of the oil filler cap it's a sign of trouble.

With the engine cold, take the radiator cap off. Start the engine. The water in the radiator should be flowing freely. If it bubbles - for more than a few seconds - again the head gasket is a goner.

Ideally try to start the engine when its cold. If its hard to start you may have a problem . . . or it may just need a set of new spark plus and a quick tune up.

If it's an automatic, put it into drive, keep one foot on the brake and apply a little accelerator. It should immedately try to move forward. If there is a delay the automatic transmission pump may be tired . . . and any repair to an automatic can be real expensive. Then shift it into reverse. It should immediately pull backwards. Do that cycle two or three times - forward, back. It should quickly and smoothly shift from one gear to the other. Drive it forward and listen for the gear changes. As it shifts from one gear to the other there should be no (or very, very little) delay. A lazy change is a sign of wear in the trans.

Let the vehicle idle for a while then give the accelerator a boost. If there is a cloud of blue smoke pouring out of the tailpipe the engine is worn. Dopn't get too freaked if there is a bit of blue smoke . . . if the vehicle is a cheapie you'll have to accept that there may be some engine wear. A bit of wear in the piston rings won't result in a catastrophic breakdown.

If a vehicle gets through these quick and simple checks it may be worth investing in a professional appraisal.

But even then, remember that you should budget to spend another $300 on top of the purchase price to have the vehicle fully serviced and tuned before you set out. You might as well get it tuned, you're going to pay for it either way.

Hope this helps a bit

David Morris

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

9. Posted by sambo123 (Budding Member 45 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

hi guys,

i'm doing the exact same thing- buying a van in sept and selling in jan as a travelling hostel. cheers for all the info- does anyone know the ins and outs of insurance etc as i have no clue. cheers!

10. Posted by Simon1974 (Budding Member 18 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Thanks guys, thats all excellent information and I'll work from it.

Thanks again I appreciate it.