As the colder weather looms, we explain what precautions you should take to make sure your caravan is secure in the winter and is ready to roll next year.
The majority of Britain’s caravan owners are likely to have already made their last trips this year: so how can you keep your vehicles in good condition while they are hibernating over the winter?
Here are some tips to make sure there are no nasty surprises and your caravan is ready to hit the road as soon as the weather warms up again next year.
Think about a service
Now could be a good time to get your caravan serviced, while the garages are not too busy. It means your vehicle will be ready to roll as soon as you fancy heading off in 2011.
Have a clear out
Make sure you don’t leave any valuable items, such as TV or DVD player, in your caravan while it’s left unused
Avoid damp and condensation
Moisture can cause real problems for your caravan if it builds up over the winter: damp can damage your soft furnishings and interior walls. There are a number of precautions you can take.
- Drain the water system by opening taps and removing the drain plug on the outside of the van. Don’t forget to replace the plug, but you can leave the taps open. Drain the toilet’s water tank too.
- Store any removable cushions / mattresses in your own home if possible. If not, leave them in the centre of the caravan rather than around the edges where they are more susceptible to the damp.
- Leave bowls of salt in a few places around the van – they can help absorb excess moisture from the air.
- If you can, open doors and windows from time to time to allow air to circulate.
Clean the kitchen, bathroom and fridge with bicarbonate of soda or anti-bacterial cleaner. This will help stop a build-up of mould while your caravan’s out of use.
And make sure there is no food left in cupboards, or any crumbs which could attract vermin.
Clean your van inside and out – including the awning, for example – to help prolong its life. Store the awning inside your own property if you can.
Consider buying polish that can help prevent mould or fungal growths.
Oil any moving parts, such as the handbrake, before putting the van into storage. And ensure the handbrake is left off (if possible) to stop the drums sticking.
Taking the weight off the wheels for a few weeks by removing them and using axle stands can help extend the life of your vehicle’s suspension and tyres.
If you want to cover your caravan, use a breathable cover that allows the air to circulate.
Storage and security
You will also have to decide where to store your caravan while it’s not in use: for example the choice could be between your own property and a dedicated storage site, where you will have to pay a small weekly fee.
Having the caravan at home may be more convenient or cheaper, but it could be an eyesore for you and your neighbours, and burglars may get an idea of when you are away if the van is not there.
Storage facilities offer different levels of protection for varying charges: you will pay more to have your caravan under covers and protected from the elements, or to have CCTV security checks.
But speak to your caravan insurance provider to make sure your policy extends to such a site.
Most providers will demand you use a wheel clamp and hitch lock while your caravan is in storage.