Get your outfit ready

Here are some tips for getting back on the road if your caravan, motorhome or campervan has been in storage or off the road for a while.

If your caravan, motorhome or campervan has been off the road or in storage for a while, you’re no doubt desperate to get it back into use, and catch up on those trips which haven’t been possible so far this year. So it’s really important to ensure everything is both safe and reliable before you go away.

Here are some checks that you should look to do before first usage:

  • Clean the outside of the outfit. This is perhaps the best way to check for any damage incurred in storage
  • Clean the inside, including lifting loose carpets and the inside of cupboards and lockers. Stay alert for any signs of damp, which will need further investigation
  • Open windows and roof vents, cupboards and lockers to air everything. Lift and air cushions, and air stored bedding
  • Check that safety devices (e.g. fire extinguisher, CO and smoke alarms etc.) are present, have functional batteries, and are within service life dates
  • Check the operation of all services – 12V and mains electrics, gas, water and sanitation. Include the function of all appliances e.g. fridge, oven.
  • Make sure the water system is thoroughly sterilised (including fresh water containers), although this is perhaps best left until shortly before you go away to maximise your protection from water-borne infections. You’re likely to be relying on this system more in weeks to come, so prepare it thoroughly

Tips for basic roadworthiness

Before taking it back on the road, even for the shortest of trips, it’s vital to ensure that its basic roadworthiness is OK. As an absolute minimum, check:

  • Tyres (pressure, condition including wear, deformation and tread depth) and wheel fixings (correct torque setting)
  • Brakes not seized and are operating, including handbrake
  • Roadlights operate correctly
  • For caravans, that the overrun mechanism will compress with resistance when pushed and that the hitch mechanism is clean and moves freely, that the breakaway cable is in good condition, and that the towing electrics connecting cable and plug are undamaged. Make sure corner steadies are not corroded and will fully retract. Don’t forget to check the towbar socket on your towcar, and remove any towball corrosion too. If you’ve changed your car since you last towed. Replace the number plate on the caravan with a matching new one
  • For motorhomes and campervans, check all fluid levels (fuel, oil, water, brake fluid), ensure the starter battery is connected with any terminal corrosion removed. Check for vermin nests or damage in the engine bay (e.g. wiring, hoses). Check underneath for any signs of fluid leaks. Ensure the exhaust is clear of debris. Start the engine and monitor warning lights and messages. Make sure the engine temperature stabilises and that the engine runs smoothly. Check brake function at low speed before heading onto the road

Don’t forget that if you haven’t driven or towed your outfit for a while, your skills may be a little rusty too. Take extra care for your first few miles at least when back on the road.

These are basic checks, and most outfits will be due (or overdue) a more thorough service too. Even where manufacturers have extended the warranty-supporting service interval, servicing is now likely to need doing urgently. The Club recommends using service agents who are members of the Approved Workshop Scheme. See approvedworkshops.co.uk/find-approved-workshop to find an AWS member near you.

Don’t forget that towcar and motorhome base vehicle servicing may also be required by now as well. Even if an MOT extension has been granted to a motor vehicle, it’s still essential to ensure it’s roadworthy, and servicing should not be deferred any longer than absolutely necessary.

For further general advice on getting vehicles back into regular use, many organisations with an interest in road safety have come together to support a nationwide social media campaign, using the hashtag #ReadyForTheRoad. 

We’re really looking forward to seeing you on our sites again. Be sure to check out our reopening page for the latest information on the reopening of our campsites.

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