Caravan Care: 10 Tips For Looking After Your Caravan
Author: Nadia C
The last thing you need is something going wrong with your caravan. Here are some caravan care tips to keep it in its best condition
When you are towing your caravan, you don't want to discover a problem with your couplings. When you have just parked up and are settling down for your first night in the caravan the last thing you want it to discover is a flat battery or leaking seals.
Regular maintenance of your caravan is essential for road safety and long-term caravan care. This is best conducted on an annual basis by a qualified professional. You should also do regular general maintenance and checks.
Read on to learn about caravan care: 10 tips for looking after your caravan.
Preventive Caravan Care
The following tips for caravan care are largely about preventing major problems developing. They are preventative measures. Like all preventative measures, they are best done on a routine basis.
These routines may be carried on each time you take a trip or at regular intervals. This depends on how intensively or regularly you use the caravan. More use means you need more preventative caravan care.
This preventative maintenance is not a substitute for annual professional servicing.
Check your road lights and the electrical connection between your car and caravan every time you set out. If there are any failures resolve the problem before going out on the road. It may be as simple as a loose connection or a blown bulb.
Check the connection cables, plugs and sockets for any signs of wear including road damage, fraying or old age. Clean the contacts and replace any parts before they fail.
Check the RCD cut-out test switch works every time you connect to a hookup point. This is an essential safety device.
2. Battery Charging
Your battery is essential for providing power when you are not connected to a power supply. It is usually charged when your caravan is connected to a power supply by a built-in battery charger.
Regularly check the battery using a multi-meter. If the battery needs charging you can do this with a battery charger or by connecting your caravan up to a power supply. If your battery does not hold a charge it may need replacing.
Regularly inspect the gas hoses and regulator for wear. Check that they are clean and in good condition.
Check that at all the connections are sound. Spray a solution of detergent on to the fittings and turn on the gas bottle. If you see any bubbles you have a leak.
Never use a naked flame to test for gas leaks.
The flame on your gas appliances and cooker should be blue. If it changes from blue to yellow, consult your caravan service technician immediately.
Check onboard water tanks and external water barrels for leaks. Check hoses and external pumps for any kinks, leaks or other signs of wear and tear. Clean the pipes and tanks regularly using a specialist cleaner, following the manufacturer's instructions.
5. Hitch System
The point at which your caravan is attached to your vehicle is crucial for safe towing. A failure here can have devastating consequences for you, your caravan and vehicle and for other road users. It is vital that you keep this coupling device in good running order.
There are a number of different hitch methods in general use. They each have a different method for looking after them. Get to know your hitch system and how to maintain it.
Some hitches use a sway-control mechanism or stabilizer. These do not require greasing. In fact, greasing would stop the friction pads from gripping the tow ball and stopping the caravan from swaying.
Check the stabilizer friction pads. If the wear indicator shows it's time to replace them, do so.
If your hitch method requires greasing, check and grease it regularly. Other coupling methods such as hydraulic or fixed, have their own maintenance needs. Check your manufacturer's maintenance instructions.
Checking the air pressure in your tyres should be part of your pre-trip routine. Check them every time. Don't forget to check the spare.
If there is a fall in the pressure inspect the tyres for any damage. After re-filling a tyre, monitor it in case you have a slow puncture.
Give your tyres a general visual inspection periodically checking for wear.
As well as checking tyres you should also check the wheels of your caravan. Check wheel rims for curb damage and corrosion. This sort of damage can lead to the tyres deflating.
Check the tightness of the wheel nuts. Have a torque wrench set to the correct torque for your wheels. Check the wheel nuts 50 km’s after removal of the wheels and servicing and before every trip.
8. Breakaway Cable
Check the condition of the breakaway cable. These can be worn through road contact or because they are too long or too short. Check the cable is sufficient to allow movement of the caravan without damaging the cable.
Check the clip is in good condition. Replace the cable and or the clip if they show any wear. It is too late to replace if it fails when needed in the event of the caravan separating from your tow vehicle.
Rules for breakaway cables vary from state to state so it’s always best to check legal requirement before you set out on your trip. This is essentially important when travelling interstate.
For example, In NSW there is an extra requirement that the charge condition of the caravan breakaway battery can be monitored from within the towing vehicle.
Regular cleaning of the exterior of the caravan using a specialized caravan cleaner will help keep it in good condition. This is a great time to inspect the caravan for any damage, poor seals or wear and tear. Have any repairs carried out as soon as possible to reduce any further damage.
Keep the window seals clean and regularly open windows. This helps stop seals perishing and sticking. Keep windows clean to reduce hazing and other damage.
A Labour of Love
Caravan care is an important part of owning and enjoying a caravan. The routines of preventative maintenance on a routine basis and on every trip will help your caravan have a long trouble-free life. They will also keep you safe.
Spending time on this can become an imposition, however, if you love caravanning, giving some love back to your caravan is a reasonable exchange to continue enjoying your caravan for a very long time.