It’s almost peak travel season. If your motorhome or caravan didn’t get much use over the winter months, here’s a handy list to help whip it into shape, ready for your summer adventures.
Check for cracking
Even the smallest leak can cause big problems. If your motorhome or caravan had a snug home over winter, there probably won’t be anything to worry about. But if it has been exposed to the elements (cold, wind, rain, hail, snow), check for cracks on the roof, body or sealant. Even under cover, freezing temperatures can cause damage. If it’s small enough, you could probably repair it yourself with some good sealant. If you’re in need of any major repairs, contact us for a recommendation in your local area.
Check the tyres
The other place to check for cracks is the tyres. Motorhome tyres especially work hard so don’t skimp on the safety and maintenance checks here.
Check to make sure the tread is even on all sides of the tyre and they’re not too worn. Your manufacturer’s guide will tell you what kind of tyres to get if they need replacing.
Also, check the tyre pressure and top it up if needed. Correct tyre pressure is essential for several reasons:
- Efficiency – the flatter the tyre, the greater the resistance. On a car, underinflated tyres can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 4% (adding around 7-8 cents per litre of petrol) – imagine what it must be like for a heavier vehicle!
- Wear - the flatter the tyre, the faster they wear out; underinflated tyres are more likely to blowout too.
- Safety – tyre pressure affects how the vehicle handles, takes corners, speeds up and brakes.
If your motorhome went into ‘hibernation’ with fuel in the tank it could be a good idea to flush this out and top up with fresh fuel. Believe it or not, it does have an expiration date.
Check the batteries
Batteries can lose a percentage of current during storage (about 10% per month) so start by giving them a good charge. In future, removing the batteries during storage and charging them periodically is a good idea.
Once charged, reconnect and test all battery-operated appliances are working. Check it again in 24 hours to see if the battery has held its charge; if not, or it takes a bit of effort to get the vehicle going, it’s time for a new battery.
If you have a wet cell battery, you’ll also need to check the battery fluid levels.
Get charge into your solar panels
Surprisingly people forget that if the motorhome or caravan has been undercover there would have been no charge coming into your solar panel. It also pays to give it a good clean, wiping off any built up dust and grim to get it working in tip top condition for the summer sun.
Fridges need to be serviced annually so get that done if it hasn’t been already. While you’re at it, check the electrical warrants on all your appliances are current.
Clean and flush the water tanks/check pipes and plumbing
To sterilise the water tanks first, many people use Milton baby bottle sterilising tablets (available from the supermarket). One 1 tablet per 50L of water left overnight will do the trick.
To flush them out hook a clean water hose to your garden tap and connect the other end to the clean water intake connection in your motorhome or caravan. Open the grey water tank and turn on all the taps, running them until the water runs and tastes clean. No grey water tank? Collect it in buckets or direct it to a gutter or drain.
This is a good chance to check for any leaks and to make sure the water valves and pump are working well.
Also, change your water filter. If there is a huge amount of water going through your filter you'll need to replace it more often than you think.
Connect and test the gas
Another area with high safety requirements, be thorough when reconnecting and checking the gas cylinders.
- All hoses for any signs of cracking, fraying or splitting.
- Copper tubing for any dents, kinks or corrosion.
- Appliances for rust or corrosion.
- The date stamp on your gas cylinder (they need to be tested every 10 years).
- The flame on your burners. It needs adjustment if it burns yellow instead of blue.
- For a strong LPG odour as this could be a gas leak. If you suspect a leak, apply soapy water to the cylinder connections and turn it on. If bubbles appear, you have a leak so turn off the gas (closing off the valve tightly) and get your cylinder checked by a licenced professional.
- All vents are clear as a lack of ventilation can be fatal.
Check the awning for any surprise spiders that have set up shop while the awning was being stored! Look for any holes or tears that need fixing and check that is opens easily. And clean off any mould or dirt that’s accumulated.
Inside, check for bugs, cobwebs and anything else with more than two legs you don’t want to share your motorhome or caravan with; cupboards, in behind and amongst pipes and cables, in the curtains, under the beds – they could be anywhere! Wipe down all surfaces of dust and dirt; open the windows for a good air out; and if you feel the need, wash the bedding and soft furnishings for a really fresh first run of the season.
It can also be a good time to consider a good all over roof wash - a good opportunity to triple check all your seals have remained water tight over the winter.
Top up supplies
Make yourself a shopping list of all the food and cleaning supplies and other bits and pieces you need to keep your motorhome/caravan fully stocked. Make sure you check your tool kits, first aid kits and motorhome/caravan hoses and replace what you need.
Completed this list? You’re ready to roll. Enjoy your summer season exploring NZ.
Remember, you can always cut down on the pre-summer checks by scheduling in a service at our service centre in Pukekohe; it’s purpose-built to cater for all your maintenance and servicing needs and keep your vehicle in excellent condition.