How to Prepare Your Caravan or Motorhome for the New Season
After spending a long winter in storage your caravan or motorhome will need a bit of freshening up before it’s ready for a new season. Winter has been long and your leisure vehicle may have been sitting unused for long periods of time in freezing temperatures. Even if you took careful steps to winterise your vehicle, your caravan or motorhome will still require a few simple tasks to get it ready for another summer of adventures.
In this guide we will give you our top tips and important checks you should carry out before you hit the road this spring. We recommend that you start preparing your caravan or motorhome at least a month before your first trip of the season, just in case you uncover any big problems during your spring checks.
Check the tyres on your caravan or motorhome
Before you go anywhere, you will need to check the tyres on your motorhome or caravan. This is especially important if you haven’t been able to move your vehicle at all over the winter and the weight of the caravan or motorhome has been sitting on one section of the tyre for a long time.
Check your tread depth and look for any cracks or signs of warping to the shape of the tyres. If you spot any cracks the tyre will need replacing, even if you have enough tread depth left. Top up the air so that it reaches the manufacturer’s recommended pressure and make sure that the wheel nuts are properly tightened.
If you’ve had winter wheels fitted, you’ll need to re-fit the road wheels. You will still need to check the condition of your road wheels before replacing them. When you’re happy with them, jack up your caravan or motorhome and re-fit the wheels, tightening the wheel nuts to the manufacturer’s specifications and remember to check them after you’ve driven a short way.
Check for signs of water damage and damp
Water damage and damp are a real risk when you leave your leisure vehicle over the winter months. If you followed the correct steps to winterise your caravan or motorhome, you’ll reduce this risk but it’s still worth checking for any signs of damage in the spring.
Pay particular attention to the areas around windows, doors and rooflights for any signs of leaks. Check any upholstery that has been left in the vehicle over the winter months. You’ll usually be able to smell if it is damp when you first step inside your caravan or motorhome. If there is any evidence of damp, it will need immediate attention.
Leave the windows and doors open for a few hours to get some good air circulation going, or even put a dehumidifier on while you do your spring cleaning. Even if there aren’t any leaks or damp, it’s quite common for there to be a bit of a musty smell.
Clean the interior and exterior
Whilst we always recommend giving your caravan or motorhome a good clean on the inside and the outside before storing away for the winter, a spring clean is also a good idea. This will get rid of any dust that built up over the winter and help your vehicle feel fresh for your first trip of the year. Keeping your leisure vehicle clean will help it last longer, it’ll also help to maintain the value of your caravan or motorhome - meaning you'll get a better price for it if you decide it’s time for an upgrade and you want to sell it on.
Depending on where you parked your vehicle, the exterior may need a clean as well. For example, if it was parked near a tree, it’s quite common to find green patches which will need a good scrub. We’d always recommend giving the exterior a quick clean anyway, even if stored inside.
Test your road lights are working
It’s important to check all of your lights are in working order before you make that first trip. A number of things could have happened over the course of winter to affect your caravan or motorhome’s road lights. If moisture has found its way into the plug and socket system over the winter, you may find some issues here.
Re-connect and test your leisure battery
Check that your leisure battery has some charge and is in good condition. If you removed your leisure battery before storing your caravan or motorhome for the winter, make sure that the clamps are clean and rust-free when reconnecting it. Test the battery by trying the interior lights and the water pump.
If your battery isn’t holding charge, try leaving it to charge for several days using a battery charger rather than the vehicle’s charging system. This can happen sometimes if you haven’t charged it regularly over the winter. If the battery is completely flat and won’t hold charge at all it will need replacing.
Check and sterilise water systems
Before storing your caravan or motorhome for the winter, you will have drained down the water system to prevent any liquid freezing and causing damage to your water systems. If you have a water filter fitted to your freshwater supply system, now is a good time to replace it. When it’s time to start using your water system again and re-couple a water supply, make sure you close any valves on drain-down points. Once they're closed, test your water pump and make sure that all taps are working. Run water through the whole system and check for any signs of leaking.
After you’ve tested the system, it’s a good idea to sterilise it before using it. You can fill this with a cleaning solution, such as Puriclean, which will need to be in the system for around 12 hours before being flushed through.
Re-install gas cylinders and check hoses
You may have removed your gas cylinders as a safety precaution when winterising their vehicle. When re-installing your cylinders, make sure you check the rubber hose for any signs of cracks or damage. If you’ve had the current hose for a number of years, consider replacing it even if it looks to be in good condition as the rubber does degrade over time. When you’ve re-installed your cylinders, check that any appliances that use gas, such as heating or your cooking equipment, are working correctly. Nothing worse than getting on the road and discovering you can’t use the hob to make a hot brew.
Test safety and security alarms
Make sure that devices such as smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors still have battery life and are working properly. If you have security alarms, check that these are all working too.
Book your caravan or motorhome in for servicing
Getting your leisure vehicle serviced once a year could save you a lot of headaches on the road. It’s better to get any minor issues diagnosed and fixed before you set off, rather than them becoming major problems on the road.
Remember that spring is a popular time for servicing leisure vehicles with everyone wanting to book in before the first trip of the year, so make sure you get this sorted early.
Before you hit the road
Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork up to date. You don’t want to be rushing around booking in for a last minute service or sorting out your travel insurance when you’re due to be starting your trip.
Check that you have your motorhome or caravan insurance up to date, your travel insurance and your passport if you’re going overseas. Make sure that your car insurance and breakdown cover is all sorted too if relevant. It might be a good idea to add renewal dates to your calendar to avoid a stressful last minute rush.