As the new touring season arrives it is time to prepare your caravan for the year. 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. With sites re-opening on the 12th April 2021 it is timed to get prepared!
What should you 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. If you find tough black streaks then there are products available to tackle these. Make sure you follow the instructions on your product bottle. It is not advisable to use a jet wash on your caravan, other than applying snow foam. They can damage rubber seals, joints and parts of the caravan if too much pressure is used.
Some products are less abrasive and more environmentally friendly. These are a good choice to use.
Whilst washing the caravan check for cracks to any panels or windows.
Make sure one of your caravan maintenance jobs to check your awning channel for debris or blockage. Then re-lubricate it with a spray such as Eco-Glide Awning Rail Lubricant or a silicone spray. It will be easier to pull your awning through the channel if it is clean and lubricated.
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 your caravan tyres?
Once you have checked the exterior of the caravan it is important to check the caravan tyres. As part of your essential caravan maintenance you should check tyres, starting with the external tyre wall, for any cracks or bulges. If you find a crack or bulge, 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. Look under the caravan to check the inside wall of the tyre, make sure nothing has damaged it.
It is important you check your tyre pressures before every tow. This may be found on the wheel arch, on your weight plate or in the caravan manual. A product like the Maypole 12v handheld is good as it plugs in to the car. You can buy cordless products too, or the good old fashioned foot pump.
You should have a torque wrench in your caravan kit. Check the torque settings on each wheel, 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, caravan tyres spend a lot of time stationary. This puts pressure on the tyre walls, which can then fail, UV light can cause degradation too.
To find out the age of your tyre you will find a box on the outer wall of the tyre. 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. For example 3016 would be the 30th week of 2016. It is common for your tyres to be older than your caravan as manufacturers bulk buy.
What else should you check outside?
You should check all your exterior caravan lights are working before you tow. To do this, attach your car to the caravan through your 7 or 13 pin electrics. Switch on your side lights and check indicators, brake lights, reversing light and fog light. Remember, if a light is fitted it must be working. You must replace any bulbs that have failed and these can be purchased online or at a caravan accessory shop.
If possible this is a good time to clean your toilet cassette before your first trip. There are various products available, most will remove any limescale that may have built up too. If you caravan in hard water areas you will find limescale will devisable in your toilet cassette, in your sink and possibly on your taps.
Lastly, check the voltage of your leisure battery from your onboard caravan volt meter or a handheld device. 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. A battery should hold a charge over 11.5V, if it drops lower on a lead battery then the battery may need replacing. A lithium battery is able to completely discharge and be recharged.
What should you 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 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. The fluid should be changed in line with the manufacturers guideline and will usually be done on a habitation service.
How do you purify your 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 and it is important to purify it, even if you don’t drink your tap water.
Puriclean is the most recommended product to treat your 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, leave the solution to work. It is best to leave it overnight and in the morning run the taps for a minute. 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.
What else should you check?
The list is almost endless but you can check your gas level to make sure you have enough for your first trip. No-one wants to run out of gas when cooking or heating the caravan.
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.
Make sure you have your caravan serviced when it is due, this will ensure you are safe to tow and tour in your caravan. Depending on the age of your caravan, it will maintain the warranty. 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 2021!
With touring back on the horizon it is time to get your caravan ready to start the 2021 season. Here at Colapz we will be looking forward to a summer of camping. If you are concerned about shared facilities, or like us you are in a tent, then have a look at the Colapz Ensuite. This great new addition for 2021 provides a shower room when coupled with our 12v portable shower. You can add a portable toilet to make it a full facility for the family.