Caring for Your Caravan

Hitched up and back on the road again

All through winter your caravan has been hibernating. Now's the time to wake it up and give it a good once-over, before hitting the road once more. And of course, make sure your caravan's insurance cover is up to date!

It's been far from caravanning weather over the past winter but now as the spring brings hope of a good summer ahead; your thoughts must surely be turning to where your car and your caravan might take you. To familiar sites again? Or new, unexplored places? Or perhaps the fantastic touring opportunities across the channel are beckoning…

Caravan owners are, of course, well used to all the jokes from 'ordinary' motorists – not least the stories about endless queues behind a caravan hauled by a car that's far too small for the task.

But the reality is quite different and of course, we all know it is those who have never enjoyed a caravan holiday who are the real losers.

"Planning your trips is half the fun," says Chay Collins, who is responsible for the AA's caravan insurance portfolio, and some-time caravanner himself.

"Getting your caravan from its winter lay-over – which of course should be a CaSSOA secure site – and giving it a good spruce up helps to build the anticipation. It's important too, to check that the caravan is in good working order."

He suggests a few key things to look at before taking the caravan on its first trip. "Most of it is common sense of course," says Collins. "But going through these points should help ensure that wherever the road takes you, you'll have a trouble-free year ahead!"

  • Clean and tidy: give your caravan a good clean.

    WD40 on the door hinges and other moving parts will help to keep them rust and squeak-free. Change the battery in your smoke alarm.

  • Clear water: check and flush through the water system

    Use sterilising solution and afterwards, change the water filter. Don't forget to leave the system drained if there is still any risk of frost.

  • Tyred out: check tyre pressures and condition

    Looking for cracks and blisters and, of course the tread depth. Make sure the wheel nuts are tight, checking that the threads aren't rusted

  • Brake action: check that the handbrake

    Make sure it's free and working properly. Get the brakes checked at a local dealer

  • It's a gas: make sure the supply is working properly

    Hook up a gas cylinder and remember that the high-pressure hose must be replaced at three or four-year intervals.

    Get your appliances serviced (and get an inspection certificate from the expert who does the job). Make sure the air vents are all clear as well

  • Lighting-up time: ensure connections and lights work

    Couple the caravan to the car through the 12N and 12S plugs to check.

    You should regularly clean the plugs and use a moisture repellent.

    Of course you will also have removed the caravan's battery before laying up so ensure it's fully charged and put it back, making sure the electrics are functioning OK. Check that the mains supply functions properly

  • Ensure you're insured: confirm that you have cover.

    Check out the cover that's right for you. Do you have a lower-value caravan? Then Essentials is for you.

    For high value vans with all the necessary benefits for serious caravan enthusiasts, then Standard or Select might be just what you are after.


Last updated: 5 March 2010