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buying a pop up caravan

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I am thinking about buying a pop up caravan?

They seem reasonably priced, fold down very low for storage and would be perfect for a few trips here and there.


am wondering if anyone has any tips on buying them and what to look out

for, are they prone to rust or weakness in any particular areas?

And if anyone knows of one that might be up for sale I'd be interested as well!!!

many thanks

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We've had a folding caravan for several years (solid bottom, canvas top) ; not quite the same. The only real potential weakness apart from obvious things like damage to the canvas etc. is the poles in the erection system. It can be difficult to get replacements.

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some good info here.

copy and paste into your address bar at the top of your screen.


Kind regards,


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I have an Esterel folding caravan and wont be parted from it, its all a bit 80's but luckily someone has replaced the curtains and seat covers with something stylish and timeless, you can tell that i didnt buy it in France cant you!

Anyway there is now a forum for Esterel owners in France, there are often ones for sale on the site and many many links to others on Leboncoin and E_bay.

Be aware that these sell for silly money in France whereas mine in perfect order and with an awning I got for a couple of hundred quid in the UK.


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[quote user="caroline"]Thanks for your reply. Did you get a towbar fitted in France? and was it costly?  Can you tell me what to look out for when buying one?

Many thanks again


No, I don't live in France (working on it). To have a towbar fitted in the UK costs £250-£350 or thereabouts, depends on how many electric sockets you want. I can't see why getting it done in France should be any more expensive (especially as we have a Citroen Picasso ....)

There are three basic types of trailer - caravans - in increasing order of cost - we have experience of (a) and (b) but not (c). There are quite significant price differences between the three groups. (Pricing new, very rough)

(a) Trailer Tents - these fold open and usually provide basic accommodation - beds with a space in the middle - with a seperate kitchen, with a tent on the front if you want more living space. Up to about £4000

(b) Folding Caravans - these are larger and open up to provide a "proper" caravan but have a canvas upper body and roof - bedrooms usually at either end. From about £5000 to £10000

(c) Popup Caravans - these have a solid top and sides that fold down. About £15000 upwards.

The best place to look is Caravan and Tent Guides. For the first two, you need the checks relating to the canvas (look for things like rot for example) , and a Caravan guide will give you checks for the caravan side of it for the last two - sound water and gas and heating systems, solid panelling etc. Also check any provided awnings for Folders or Popups.

The main difference between all three and a normal caravan is the mechanics of the pop up, fold over, or pop out.  These are usually a combination of poles, clips and wires - and the designs can change quite frequently - it can be quite difficult to get spares if the poles get bent or broken, so look for a good clean working mechanism - don't just see it "up".

Finally all three are on trailers (trailer tents aren't usually braked) so checks on rust, brakes, electrics and so on. Again any good caravan buyers guide will help you with this.

Really, it depends how much you want to spend, and what you want it for.

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I forgot to answer the questions about what to look for, I have experience of the type "C" caravane pliante rigide but not at the budget of £15000 or even €15000, if you remove two zeros then you will be much closer.

I am not sure that rigid folding caravans are actually made any more but at that price I would expect something brand new and with a gold plated guarantee.

On the basis that the OP is looking for something secondhand then I can offer the following advice on Esterels, the only other folding caravans that I am aware of are the Rapido type but they are more of a trailer tent albeit with some rigid ply panels.

On an Esterel check for evidence of water ingress around the skylight, the plated mild steel screws soon rust and the mastic lifts the rot can attack the entire ply roof lining which is quite a job to replace, have a good poke around, the roof should be solid ply under the plastis headlining, if it is crunchy the ply has delaminated, if squidgy then it is no longer there and just the polystyrene insulation remains.

If the skylight does not leak then the inside will normally be dry as a bone as when folded down the roof covers the bottom half like an upturned bucket and there are no windows etc to spring leaks.

When erected the corner joints may leak but this is easily rectified with draughtproof strips, check lower panels in each corner for evidence of water ingress.

The area you are most likely to find rot is on the edge of the floor panels at the junction with the sides of the caravan, it needs some kind of a drip moulding here as the water runs straight underneath onto the unprotected edges of the plywood floor, if you find one with no rot here then it has been stored inside all of its life.

Ones that have been stored in a garage often have depressions in the roof where junk has been pied up on it, this can act as a funnel to lead water to the leaking skylight, the only way to rectify this is to remove the inner roof structure, jack up the dip and then replace the carpentry and roof lining but there wil always be a slight dip visible. This is probably about the only thing that I wiuld now walk away from to look for a better van.

The gas struts for the lift mechanism have often failed but you can get new ones or the old ones regassed from SGS or IGS in the UK.

Spare wheels are impossible to find in France (they were Vauxhall/Opel 12" rims) but some of the trailer companies in the UK can get an equivalent.

Various other parts like windows, catches, corner pull/location handles are either impossible to get or cost a ridiculous price in France but are readily fund quite cheaply in the UK, ironic considreing that its a French caravan.

Chassis and brakes no real problems, all standard Knott and Alko Kober parts.

The later top volume models are more in keeping with the modern caravan and are quite sought after.

I think that they are great little vans, they tow very well with hardly any loss of fuel economy and they save you the 50% surcharge on the autoroutes, however they are very basic by comparison with modern luxurious vans, horses for course really.

If you speak French then I recommend that you visit the esterel forum, even if you dont you can look at the pictures and the ads.

good luck.

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