6 checks to de-winterise your caravan
As the new touring season arrives it is time to prepare your caravan for the year. But what should you check for before hitching up and towing away? In this blog we will go though some easy but essential caravan maintenance checks and useful tips to get you on the road.
What should I check first?
Before your first outing start by checking the exterior of your caravan. Visually check for any signs of damage to any panels or windows. If safe to do so, use a ladder to check the roof for any cracks, or objects that may have fallen on to it.
Once done it is a good time to give your caravan a good wash down. Use a product that washes and polishes to give some protection. We recommend 40shot Exterior Multi Clean, a 3-1 product. If you find tough black streaks then there are many products available. Make sure you follow the instructions on your product bottle.
Make sure one of your caravan maintenance jobs you check your awning channel for debris or blockage. Then re-lubricate it with a spray such as Eco-Glide Awning Rail Lubricant.
This is a good time to lubricate and maintain the rubber seals of your lockers and the rubber ring on your toilet cassette. A silicon based spray is best for this job, you can buy this online or at caravan accessory shops.
What about my caravan tyres?
Once we have checked the exterior of the caravan it is important to check the caravan tyres. Part of your essential caravan maintenance you should check tyres, starting with the external tyre wall for any cracks or bulges. If you find any this is not a good sign and the tyre should be replaced. Check your tyre tread, caravan tyres rarely wear down as they are not driven wheels, but it is best to be safe. An example of this is our own Adria. We have towed it around 15,000 miles in two years and have only lost 1mm of tread. Look under the caravan to check the inside wall of the tyre, make sure nothing has damaged the inside wall. It is important you check your tyre pressures before every tow. This is found on the wheel arch, on your weight plate or in the caravan manual. We use a Maypole 12v handheld for this, it plugs in to our car.
You should have a torque wrench in your caravan kit. Check the torque settings on each wheel, again this should be on the weight plate or manual. These checks should be done every time you tow.
Caravan tyres should be replaced when they reach five years of age, this is because they can begin to perish. Unlike car tyres, the caravan ones spend a lot of time stationary. This puts pressure on the tyre walls, which can then fail. To find out the age of your tyre you will find a box on the outer wall. In this box are four numbers. The first two numbers are the week of the year and the second two are the year. This represents the week of the year the tyre was manufactured. Ours is 3016, this would be the 30th week of 2016. Our tyres are two years older than our caravan. This is quite common as manufacturers bulk buy to save money.
What else should I check outside?
Now you need to check all your caravan lights are working, attach your car to the caravan to run the lights check. You must replace any bulbs that have failed.
If possible this is a good time to clean your toilet cassette before your first trip. The Proshot Cassette Waste Tank Cleaner works well and removes any limescale that may have built up too.
Check the voltage of your leisure battery from your onboard caravan volt meter. Check the battery is secure and make sure there is no noxious smell coming from it. If there is do not use it and replace it immediately.
What should I check inside?
Now it is time to do some checks inside the caravan. Check your carbon dioxide and smoke alarm are both working. If you have a fire extinguisher then check it is in date.
If you have an Alde wet central heating system you should check the fluid level when cold. The level should be 1cm above the minimum level. If the fluid is below minimum you should top it up as it could damage the pump when used. You can top this up yourself with the correct fluid. You must use a G13 anti freeze fluid, we use Proshot G13 which meets manufacturers and British Standards. You fill the tank from top, follow the instructions on the product you choose to use. There is advice online you can follow too.
How do I purify my water system?
If you have access to water you can purify before you set off on your first trip, if not do this the first day on site. The water system can harbour bacteria. It is very important to purify it and maintain it regularly, even if you don’t drink your tap water. We always use Puriclean to treat our system. To use, fill your water carrier and add the Puriclean as per the instructions. Pull the water through your caravan as usual with the pump. Once all the pipes are full and the onboard water tanks then leave the solution to work. We leave it overnight and in the morning we run the taps for a minute. We then empty all the water from the caravan system and flush through with fresh and clean water. You may still notice a slight smell of the Puriclean until your second clean butt of water. The Puriclean will cleanse your water carrier, your pipes and the onboard water tanks. Do not use bleach in your caravan water system as it can cause damage to the pipes and water tanks. It is not environmentally friendly or septic tank safe either.
The water will drain in to your waste water carrier and treat this too.
You can treat your waste water carrier on each trip by using Proshot Dish N Treat. This replaces your washing up liquid, it is septic tank safe and works well in hard water areas. The product works to keep your waste pipe and waste water carrier clean. It prevents any bad smells coming back up in to the caravan by treating the waste water and carrier.
What else should I check?
The list is almost unlimited but you can check your gas level to make sure you have enough for your first trip.
You may need to clean and re-proof your awning ready fo the year ahead, check it for any tears or holes.
Your first trip out is a good time to disinfect your fridge and freezer. Mould spores may have grown whilst not in use so use a disinfectant spray.
Do you have a caravan first aid kit? If so then check it is well stocked up and in date. Electrosan is a good antiseptic spray to carry, it can be used on cuts on people and pets as it is not harmful if ingested. It can be used to sanitise surfaces too, such as tables, toys and cutlery.
Make sure you have your caravan serviced when it is due, this will ensure you are safe to tow and tour in your caravan. Anyone who works on your caravan should be part of the A.W.S (Approved Workshop Scheme). This applies to mobile engineers too.
Enjoy your touring in 2020!
There is much uncertainty right now but the main thing is we all stay safe and follow guidance given. We may have to delay our touring plans for a few months but lets hope we will be all out there very soon.