Top Tips For Preparing Your Caravan

With The May bank holidays getting closer, many Brits are hoping for some sunshine to plan a caravan getaway. However, before you can go anywhere, make sure that everything is working and safe to use. Considering that many caravans spend the off-season outside and exposed to all sorts of conditions, there are usually a few things that need checking.

Taking everything into account, we’ve highlighted some of the most important steps to prepare your caravan for the upcoming season. From caravan tyres and wheels to batteries, lights and water tanks, it’s all part of effective caravan maintenance.

Elite can help with batteries, services and tyres.  We stock tyres from wheelbarrows, trailers and trucks to Bentleys, Mercedes and caravans. Remember that when you need a maintenance check or to replace your caravan tyres, we have several branches with expert technicians ready to assist in any way they can.

Caravan Maintenance And Tyres

Before getting down to the tyres, always check for damp as caravans can often get a musty smell. While it’s usually easily rectified by airing the caravan, make sure that the smell is not coming from an underlying problem. Even if you’ve taken all the necessary precautions protecting your caravan, the low temperatures and moisture can still cause problems.

Start by properly airing out your caravan at least one day before checking the interior. Remember to pay special attention to all the soft furnishings that may be affected and could need replacing. You should also check and replace any broken seals on the doors and windows as that could cause leaks.

Caravan Tyres

Tyres are not specially made for caravans as they either use car tyres or ones designed for small vans. While some tyres are specifically designed for trailers, they are usually only available in certain specifications. This includes small camping trailers or one or two specialist types of larger commercial trailers.

Unlike car tyres, each wheel fitted to a single axle caravan must support at least half the caravan’s weight. Typically, these caravans weigh more than one-quarter of a normal car so you need to carefully consider any change in wheel specifications for your caravan. It’s not recommended to use car wheels on a caravan unless they are deemed appropriate. You can usually find this information from the wheel manufacturer or supplier.

When Should You Replace Caravan Tyres?

Caravans generally don’t have a high annual mileage as they average around 2,000 miles. This means it would take a considerable amount of time to wear out the tread. That said, several factors can still make them deteriorate differently even if you are careful.

  • All tyres age and deteriorate with exposure to sunlight and atmosphere even if you don’t use them
  • Caravan tyres can suffer fatigue through small, repetitive impacts in normal daily use
  • Considering that caravans are stored for most of the year, certain parts of the tyre could be under strain

If your caravan tyres are damaged in any way or worn to the legal minimum tread depth, replace them immediately. Regardless of their visual appearance, caravan tyres should be replaced regularly, about every five years. You should never use caravan tyres that are seven years or older.

If your caravan tyres need a higher pressure of 50psi or more, you should regularly check for signs of deterioration from three years old. In this instance, you should not use these tyres when they reach five years. Don’t forget that a tyre’s age starts from the production date and not when it was fitted.

How To Check Caravan Tyres

Considering that the caravan has not been used for some time, holding the weight can put additional strain on the tyres. As with car tyres, you must check for any bulges, cracks or obvious wear on the tread and always inflate to the manufacturer’s specifications. If you fitted winter tyres, remember to replace them with road tyres while also checking for any signs of wear.

Once you fit the tyres, make sure that your wheel bolts are properly fastened. Also, check the condition of your tyre valves and make sure the valve stem is not damaged. It should also be correctly aligned with the valve aperture in the wheel and not distorted if a wheel trim is installed.

Many new caravans have a spare wheel but it is not a legal requirement. If it came as standard, the wheel and tyre should have the same or very similar specifications to the others. In the event that you must buy a spare separately, both the wheel and tyres should be compatible with the original ones. Even if you’ve never needed one, we strongly advise keeping a spare wheel and tyre just in case.

How To Prepare The Water Tanks

Before setting off, you must also prepare your water tanks as they’ve likely been drained before winter storage.

  • First, test the whole water system by reconnecting the pipes
  • Fill the tank with water and run it through the system to check for leaks
  • If any of the pipes are broken or the tank has a leak, replace them before repeating the process
  • Sterilise the tanks as storing the caravan through winter can lead to a musty smell and taste. Fill the tank with a sterilising solution and leaving it for up to twelve hours
  • Once you’ve sterilised the tanks and flushed them with clean water, replace the water filter

Check And Reconnect The Battery

Many people who follow winter storage best practice should have disconnected the battery which now needs to be reconnected.

  • First and foremost, clean all the leads and battery terminals with a contact cleaner
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely reconnect the battery
  • Once you’ve reconnected it, check that the battery is working by turning on the interior lights and the water pump

It’s usually a good idea to keep your battery charged throughout winter but it’s not a necessity. If you’ve planned the trip properly and have time, simply put it on charge for a few days.

Check All The Lights

Seeing as the caravan is behind your car, road lights are extremely important for your safety and that of other road users. Never leave home without checking that all the lights are working.

  • Inspect the plug for any cracks. Check the condition of the housing and replace broken or corroded pins before connecting the caravan to the car
  • Once connected, ask someone to check that the lights are working
  • Inspecting lenses and marker lights for any cracks or missing screws

Full Service From Elite Garages

Our experts will always recommend what’s best for your car and caravan to keep you and your family safe. We are dedicated to providing all of our customers with exceptional service and only supply manufacturer approved parts. Elite Garages service all makes and models according to the manufacturer’s service schedule while offering better value than dealerships.

You will feel at home with Elite Garages as our staff are friendly, knowledgeable and always there to assist. When you are ready, contact your local branch to discuss your caravan tyre requirements and we will provide you with whatever you need.