Van Aware tool

Read Customer Stories

A-frame
Trailer Plate
Branding

Welcome to the Van Aware Tool

This tool helps you identify issues related to a caravan’s identity before you make a purchase. Explore the points of interest on the caravan for information about the warning signs to look out for. Also, take a minute to read the stories inspired by real customers to hear about the effect of purchasing a rebirthed caravan.

A-frame

This is a description for A-frame

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Considerations when checking A-frames:

  • Check the chassis or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) number has not been altered or tampered with.
  • The chassis or VIN number should match the trailer plate and registration papers.

Trailer Plate

This is a description for Trailer Plates

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Make sure the trailer plate and the information on the plate look genuine and have not been tampered with.


At a minimum, trailer plate must display:

  • Manufacturer’s or importer’s name - "homemade" is not a valid name
  • Vehicle/trailer model
  • Vehicle Identification Number
  • Date of manufacture
  • Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM)
  • Certification statement for new trailers or imported trailers.

Ensure your towing vehicle is capable of towing the caravan (up to the ATM) and the correct braking systems are installed. For more information see our Safe Towing Guide.

Safe towing guidelines

Branding

This is a description for Branding

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Check that the brand and model names are consistent on the outside and throughout the caravan and that these match the trailer plate and registration papers. A new caravan with missing decals could be a warning sign.

Customer Stories

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Tony & Jill's Story

These customer stories are based on true events but have been de-identified to protect the privacy of individuals. Purchasing a stolen or written off caravan can have significant and lasting impacts. Please take care and be Van Aware.

“Jill and I were looking for a caravan to begin our retirement adventures. We found an almost new, top of the line caravan, which was exactly what we were looking for, that was being sold on the cheap after some damage incurred during recent hailstorms.

The deal seemed too good to be true but the seller assured us that all damage had been repaired by the book. I was sceptical as there wasn’t a VIN number stamped or welded into the A-frame. Also, despite the prominent brand name on the outside of the caravan, the trailer plate listed the manufacturer as ‘home made’. When I brought these issues up, the seller said this was all part of the repair process.

The seller said more people were interested and we didn’t want to miss out on the deal, so we made the purchase.

Soon after, we took the caravan to the Department of Transport and Main Roads to have some modifications approved. During the inspection we were informed that our van had been rebirthed and was previously written off. The van was not safe to be used on the road and the registration had to be cancelled.

Until action is finalised against the seller, we’ve had to delay our retirement plans. I still go and sit in the van sometimes and imagine we are exploring this great country. Unfortunately the view from the backyard is not as good as the Great Ocean Road. Hopefully those dreams become a reality soon but until then I’m left wishing I’d been more Van Aware and insisted on getting a second opinion before purchasing.”

Sarah & Mick's Story

These customer stories are based on true events but have been de-identified to protect the privacy of individuals. Purchasing a stolen or written off caravan can have significant and lasting impacts. Please take care and be Van Aware.

“Mick and I have three kids, two dogs, a budgie and a gold fish. Getting away for holidays can be a challenge so we decided to buy a caravan and all holiday together. We took our time and waited for the right deal as we didn’t want to blow our budget. When our dream caravan came up for half the price I got the sense it was too good to be true.

Mick and the kids went to look at the caravan first and they all fell in love straight away. As the responsible one, I wanted to be thorough so I checked why there was recent welding where the VIN number had been replaced on the A-frame and why there were different brand decals on the inside and the outside of the van. The seller assured us that it had been purchased as a factory second directly from the manufacturer. Despite my suspicions, the price was right and it came registered so I didn’t dig too deep.

To accommodate our family we had to make some upgrades and modifications to the caravan. Not long before the Christmas holidays I took the caravan to the Department of Transport and Main Roads to get everything approved ahead of our first trip. The news was not good, the changed identifiers set off alarm bells and the van had to be referred to the police for forensic investigation. Our holiday was cancelled and the entire family was devastated!

It was eventually uncovered that the caravan had been stolen and wiped of its original identifiers. Our insurance wouldn’t pay out and more than a year on we’re still involved in a legal battle to recoup our lost investment. The entire experience has been extremely traumatising and our dream of family holidays together has become a nightmare. I can’t stress how important it is to get Van Aware, do your homework before buying a caravan and know the warning signs to ensure you do not buy a van that has been rebirthed.”