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Buying a caravan….what to look for

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    Celeste Du BruynParticipant

    We bought a 2nd hand Penta last year October our salesman was awesome however the aftersales service was the worst. After our 2nd trip we burst a tyre only to find out the tyres were 17 years old.  ( The company did compensate us for R1000.00 per tyre). The tyres have a 4 number stamp on to depict the week and year of manufacturing of the tyre. This was missed on the supposedly full service that was promised (van had to remain there for an extra 3 days for the service and roadworthy) only to discover today the brakes were totally shot after 600kms of owning the van, were these not meant to be checked as well? We only discovered this because we plan on going to Natal in September and wanted to check bearings and brakes. So yes an extra R4322.00 post a full service. Just a suggestion if you buy a van from a dealer rather take it to someone you trust to service and ask for a reduction on the vans price. We learnt a very expensive lesson here. REMEMBER TO CHECK THE TYRES!!! Extremely happy Penta owners….beware of these errors and empty promises.

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    Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins on

    There was a thread on this very forum around 10 years ago where this issue was extensively ventilated. The OP had a tyre or 2 fail on ax Xplorer if I remember correctly. In that case the tyres were (only) ten years old and we had some feedback from someone in the know that tyre manufacturers consider the expiry date on their product to be 5 years from that very same little 4-digit stamp on the sidewall.

    Very few knew about it then, and since then a new generation of owners has grown up without that knowledge. I urge every caravan owner to go out ASAP and check the manufacture date on their caravan if it is more than 5 years old.

    I also now always check the manufacture date on replacement tyres for my cars and I’ve caught them trying to sell me tyres that have been lying in the store for 3 years or more.


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    Fyko on

    I was the OP of that thread, which has since disappeared. I was about 40km from Richmond, towing my 2002 Jurgens Xplorer (bought from a smooth seller who swore the tyres were brand new replacements!) when a large piece of the layer above the steel belt separated and flung itself onto the N1. The tyre was otherwise in excellent condition and looked hardly worn. Since I was on my way to Moz I didn’t want to use the spare so I pulled into the Caltex station in Richmond and bought another tyre.

    From my place in Moz I initiated a process to find what had caused this failure of the tread face of a seemingly perfectly good tyre. Godfrey Castle got involved and this eventually provoked a response from the original manufacturer of the tyre, who asked for a pic of the date stamp. What followed from the manufacturer was a detailed and perfectly logical explanation of why they only support a tyre for 5 years from date of manufacture and hence why they put that date stamp on the sidewall in the first place.

    By the time my tyre came apart it was already 10 years old, and the reason it looked to be in such good condition was that the rubber compound had hardened to the point where it was totally impervious to wear. It was also so hard that the flexing of the tread face cracked it loose from the steel belt underlayer as well causing cracks within the tread face itself. Pretty soon a large piece of that tread face broke off and flew into the oncoming traffic on the N1.

    Since the steel belt doesn’t extend to the sidewalls it is easy to imagine the flexing of those sidewalls causing cracks and ruptures in the polyester cords there, which will lead to a burst tyre and possible loss of the caravan.

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    Stuart on

    Buying a caravan should be treated like buying a vehicle. Asking the dealer for a technical AA test is an option, even if the buyer has to foot this bill. It’s money well spent  and a technical test will usually uncover faults that far outweigh the price of the test.


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    Deon Jacobs
    Deon Jacobs on

    The amazing (and scary) takeaway from this is that most people (me included up to today) don’t know about this very important piece of safety information on every one of their tyres.

    “Somebody should do something”

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