Spring is finally here! The temperature is rising, the clocks have gone forward and it’s time to get the caravan out.
But before you hit the road, you need to take the time to check your caravan to make sure everything is in full working order. Whether it’s been parked up all winter or not, a once over is crucial to make sure you stay safe and avoid a breakdown.
So here is our check-your-caravan checklist, to help you enjoy caravanning this year.
1. Check your tyres
Check your tyre pressure before you travel – under- or over-inflated tyres can make driving less safe, and reduce your fuel efficiency. To check the pressure, a gauge is the best option, and a tyre inflator is a good investment for topping up tyres easily wherever you are. Try a larger inflator to quickly inflate larger tyres. You also need to check that your tyre tread meets the legal limit of 1.6mm – a tread gauge is the best way to do this. If your tyres are below the limit, they need replacing. You can find more details on tyre care here.
2. Check all connections, plugs and sockets
Make sure all the electrics between the caravan and towing vehicle are properly connected and in good working order. Any that are faulty or looking worn need to be replaced.
Fully working brakes are obviously a travel essential. You need to check that the brake drum and shoes are in the right place on all wheels, and adjust if not. You also need to check the handbrake. This article outlines how to test both brakes, but if you’re unsure, you may want to ask an expert.
4. Clean water system
Water systems can be breeding grounds for algae and bacteria, so it’s essential to clean it out before you travel. Using a special cleaning agent to flush the system to make sure it’s sterilised and ready for use. If you are replacing any old pipes, make sure to get non-transparent lines: algae needs sunlight to grow, so having pipes that aren’t see through will stop this happening.
Check all the bulbs on your caravan are working, and replace any that aren’t. It might be worth getting a spare bulb kit to have in the car, just in case a bulb goes while you’re on the road. It is a legal requirement that all trailers – including caravans – have two red sidelights, two red stoplights, two red reflective triangles, an illuminated number plate and amber indicators. If your caravan is over 1.3m wide, it will also need at least one fog lamp. You can get trailer boards and light units that can meet these requirements.
6. Check corner stabilisers
Your stabilisers will keep the caravan steady when you’re walking around in it – so they’re essential for a happy holiday. Make sure they are wound all the way up to keep the ‘van steady when you’re in it, and keep it safe when you’re driving.
7. Charge battery
If your caravan’s battery hasn’t been used in a while, it will likely have gone flat. Even if it hasn’t, it’s a good idea to give it a charge to get it back to full strength. A standard charger will top it up, but if you use a smart charger, it will apply a multi-stage cycle to charge, protect and repair your battery.
8. Check gas system
Getting your gas system properly serviced is an essential part of caravan maintenance. Servicing from a professional is essential, but between services you can also carry out some basic checks: look over the piping and see if there are any obvious cracks at the joints.
9. Fluid levels
Getting fluid levels topped up is a quick job that could save you a lot of hassle later. Coolant, oil and brake fluids all need checking and topping up if necessary.
10. Breakaway cable
It is a legal requirement for any trailer or caravan with brakes to have a breakaway cable. This cable is an emergency back up in case the trailer or caravan becomes detached from the towing vehicle – it could stop a technical malfunction from becoming far more serious and dangerous. Check yours is properly connected and in good condition.