Safety on the road

As with any vehicle you take on the public highway, your caravan or motorhome should be regularly serviced to the maker's specification by a qualified engineer. In addition, you should make a visual safety check of tyres and general bodywork before setting off on a journey.

It's a good idea to subscribe to one of the leading caravan or motorhome magazines. This is probably the best way to keep up to date with news and views, as well as finding articles on all aspects of vehicle maintenance.

You can also pick up lots of hints, tips and good ideas by browsing some of the several online caravanning forums like www.caravandeals.co.nz/forum or www.practicalcaravan.com

At the beginning of the season

  • Check the tyres (including the spare) for pressure, cracking of sidewalls
  • Check the handbrake moves freely
  • Replace any furnishings or equipment you may have taken out before winter storing
  • Check all the services work electric, gas, water and the battery condition
  • Water filter replace the filter/cartridge if your caravan has one
  • Pour sterilising fluid through all the pipes and drains
  • Check the 12S and 12N connectors, preferably by plugging into the car
  • Give the whole inside a thorough clean to remove the winter grime
  • Clean the caravan inside and outside, especially the awning channel
  • Book the caravan into your local dealership for a service

Routine maintenance

  • Check all road lights regularly
  • Clean out your caravan or motorhome after returning from a holiday
  • Do not leave food or drink in the vehicle, as this may attract mice
  • Wash the outside whenever it begins to look scruffy - this will also protect the paintwork
  • Leave all water tanks and onboard toilets empty with taps and valves open
  • Remove all valuables when the vehicle is not in use

Servicing

It is essential that safety items like the brakes are adjusted correctly, and that road lights work perfectly. Checks for damp or leakage in the bodywork are important. Appliances like heaters and the refrigerator need careful inspection too. Many of these jobs are best left to experts who will keep your caravan in tip top and above all SAFE condition. In 1999 the National Caravan Council and the Camping & Caravanning Club introduced The Approved Caravan Workshop programme. Workshops are independently inspected and assessed. For a list of approved workshops, visit Jones-Venning's website Have your caravan serviced at least once a year.

The end of the season

Before laying up your caravan for the winter, the following preparations should be made:
  • Make sure that wherever it will be stored for the winter it will be safe
  • Some people like to remove the wheels and stand the van on axle stands. This is a good theft deterrent too
  • Fit some kind of clamp or locking device to discourage thieves
  • Remove the battery and keep in a safe place, keeping it charged up to avoid damage
  • Spray the 12S and 12N plugs with a proprietary moisture repellent
  • Remove gas cylinders and store them in a cool, well-ventilated place. Cover the exposed end of the pipe to keep it clean and unobstructed
  • Wrap loose-fitting plastic around the coupling head
  • Seal all water inlets or outlets to keep insects and small animals out
  • Drain down all pipes and the water heater. Leave kitchen and washroom taps open
  • Empty the flushing water from the toilet
  • Leave the fridge foot open to allow air to circulate
  • Remove seat cushions, or stand them on end or away from the sidewalls to allow air to flow around them

Insurance

Make sure you have good insurance cover, suited to your tourer or motorhome. If you keep your caravan in a storage facility, check with your insurance company for any conditions which could affect a claim.
  • Is the cover 'new for old'
  • What is the total value of contents insured
  • What is covered by the policy
  • What exclusions are there
  • Are there any security precautions demanded
  • What is the excess amount to pay if a claim is made
  • Does the cover include trips abroad
  • What specific conditions apply to caravans in storage