Are you ready for the road?
We love this time of year. Planning spring trips away, looking ahead to more adventures in the trusty Coachman, and getting the van cleaned up, warmed up and ready for another season of luxury leisure.
We’ve prepared some top tips for preparing your van for spring and summer – from checking everything works to minimising problems when you arrive on-site.
It’s amazing how a bit of winter moisture can create so much grime. Clean it all off with a brush with soft bristles, then give the van a good wash using a car shampoo or a cleaner specially designed for caravans. Just as you’d give your car a polish after a clean, you’ll see the benefits of doing the same with your van, as it will help to shrug off the early-spring muck slung at it while you’re on the road.
Get out the grease gun
Lubricate the caravan’s steadies and the grease nipples on the hitch. Use silicone grease for the steadies to avoid attracting dirt and grime from the road.
Check the wheels
Remove the wheels to inspect them, taking special note of the condition of the inner sides of the tyres and wheels, as, fingers crossed, it may be some time before you see them again. Have any cracks or splits seen to by a garage or tyre centre. Check the tyre pressure and inflate them as necessary, use a torque wrench to turn the heel studs to the correct torque, then give them another check before you travel.
Check the gas
Before turning on any gas appliance it is essential to check the condition of the flexi hose on the gas bottle for any corrosion. Switch on all the gas appliances in turn to check they ignite properly – the cylinder, the oven, grill, hob rings, gas heaters and fridge. Check the flames have blue tips, and if they do not, have the appliance inspected by a qualified professional.
If you’re travelling in very cold weather, opt for propane gas (in a red cylinder), instead of butane (blue cylinder), as it works in extremely low temperatures – and should you be caught in a blizzard you’ll still be able to use the cooker to make a hot cup of tea!
Check the electrics
If you don’t have one already, install a 12V leisure battery, which is safer for your electronic equipment than the main electrical circuit. Charge the battery if a mains supply is available where your caravan is stored, or remove it and charge it with a separate battery charger. Check the electrolyte level each month and keep it topped up if necessary.
Check all the interior lights one by one, inspecting bulbs, then cable terminals if any do not work.
Warm things up
Run the water heater on gas and then on the mains to check both are working properly. Next, check the heating system for your caravan, ensuring the ignition is functioning correctly, and replacing the battery on electronic ignition if necessary. Any problems should be dealt with before your first trip, to avoid finding yourself without heating a long way from home.
Clean up the water system
To sterilise the fresh-water system, flush it through with a product such as Truma Aquastar. Check the water in the system to make sure it’s clean, and flush it again if necessary.
Freshen up the drains in the kitchen and bathroom with a proprietary cleaner and deodoriser, such as Thetford Tank Freshener.
Thetford also produces a Toilet Tank Freshener, which will help dispel any smells from the grey waste container.
Prepare the toilet by spraying the waste chamber blade with Thetford lubricant – to protect the seal and stop it from sticking to the blade. Charge the chamber, but prevent spillage on the move by only partially charging the upper chamber.
Prevent snags when putting up your awning by cleaning the caravan’s awning rail with a small brush and lubricate it with a silicone-based spray.
One of the last jobs before you hit the road – spray the plugs and sockets of the road lights on both your car and the caravan with a moisture repellent, then hitch up and check the they’re all in working order. If any do not, check the bulb and plug connections to see if any have corroded or loosened.
Replace all the stored upholstery and soft furnishings, refill the cupboards, add some good books, DVDs and music, and stock the kitchen with plenty of treats, ready for another great season of caravanning in style!