Niall Hampton
Editor

See other Advice articles filed in ‘On the road’ written by Niall Hampton
   
DURING THE COURSE of a caravanning year, it’s easy to pick up bad habits. Read through our list of tips on good practice and be a model caravanner this season. 1 Torque your wheel nutsCaravan wheel nuts shouldn’t be tightened up as hard as you can get them. They need to be tightened to the correct torque setting and they need checking regularly. If a caravan wheel detaches, the resultant damage can write off your car or caravan.

DURING THE COURSE of a caravanning year, it’s easy to pick up bad habits. Read through our list of tips on good practice and be a model caravanner this season. 

 

1 Torque your wheel nuts

Caravan wheel nuts shouldn’t be tightened up as hard as you can get them. They need to be tightened to the correct torque setting and they need checking regularly. If a caravan wheel detaches, the resultant damage can write off your car or caravan.

■ Every time you travel

 

2 Pump up your tyres

While you are checking your wheel nuts, get the tyre pressure gauge out and check your caravan and car tyre pressures. With a little pencil gauge, this takes seconds. Be aware that soft tyres can heat up and fail and may indicate a puncture.

■ Every time you travel 

 

3 Flush your waste pipesTl_extracted 1

Think yourself lucky that you can’t see inside your caravan waste pipes – gunk and scum harbour germs and make your van smell. Block the waste pipes and fill the system with a mild detergent solution. Let it soak to loosen all the grime, and rinse through with clean water afterwards.
■ Twice a year

 

Tl_extracted 14 Repack your caravan

Lots of caravanners just leave their kit in the caravan from one season to the next. It makes sense – there’s no point constantly packing and repacking. But periodically unloading stuff allows you to weed out the kit you are a carrying that you just don’t use. Save kilos. Dump what you don’t need.

■ Annually 

 

 

 

5 Remove and inspect your spare wheel

Your service will include an inspection of the spare wheel, but remove it a couple of times during the season to ensure the mount hasn’t seized and the tyre hasn’t been damaged on the road.
■ Every three months 

 

6 Plan your routes carefully

Although traffic conditions are dynamic and you don’t know how your journey is going to pan out, plan your route before you leave home and work out likely places to take a break. It makes the journey far more relaxed.
■ Every time you travel 

 

7 Take a caravan toolkit with you

Having some basic tools means that little hiccups with your caravan can often be fixed while you’re away rather than being an inconvenience throughout your holiday.
■ Every time you travel 

 

8 Be truck-friendlyTl_extracted 1

Enjoy the journey more by keeping out of stressful situations. Avoid regular lane changes on the motorway by keeping pace with the trucks during very busy periods. Let trucks in if they are overtaking and generally try not to get in their way. It’s better for everyone.
■ Every time you travel 

 

 

Tl_extracted 19 Love your battery

If your battery only gets charged when the van is hooked up to the mains or to the car, it’s never going to get a proper charge. Periodically whip it off the van and charge it using a good standalone battery charger.
 ■ Four times a year 

 

10 Graphite grease the locks

OK, here’s an industry secret. The quality of lock barrels isn’t that high, although later models are better. Still, a little bit of graphite grease on the key minimises the chances of the key sticking, bending or even breaking.
■ Twice a year 

 

11 Save your steadies

Rather than extending the steadies vertically, use blocks under them as this distributes the weight through the floor of the caravan more evenly.
■ Every time you travel 

 

12 Read your instruction manuals

We didn’t enjoy school much either, but a few minutes studying your caravan handbook can mean a better understanding of the systems in your van. Even if you’ve been touring for years, you’ll be surprised what you learn.
■ Once a year

 

13 Check your noseweightTl_extracted 1

Use a good quality noseweight gauge or bathroom scale. Use whatever you like, but check your noseweight at least a couple of times a year to ensure you’re not overloading the car or the hitch of the van. Both affect outfit stability.
■ Twice a year 

 

14 Don’t be in the doghouse

Dogs and caravanning go well together but do obey the site rules. Keep your pooch on a lead where required, use the dog walking areas provided and clean up after them.
■ Every time you travel 

 

15 Use talcum powder on the window and door rubbers

Is this taking pampering your van to the extreme? No. It simply stops the windows sticking to the rubber seals and, in the case of the door rubbers, makes them less likely to detach. Just wipe some talc around the sealing face of the rubber.
■ Once a year 

 

Tl_extracted 116 Be a better neighbour

Everyone wants to enjoy themselves when they’re away so let’s all try to get on. Keep the noise down, don’t wander across other people’s pitches and ask the kids to keep the football in the play areas. And if someone sins against you, don’t go into a steaming rant. Smile and offer a cheery ‘good morning’ instead. It’ll get the message across without starting a turf war.
■ Every time you travel 

 

17 Check your insurance

Are you covered for everything you need to be insured for? It’s not just the caravan itself. What about all your things inside the van? See our separate feature on insurance to find out more about the different types of cover.
■ Once a year 

 

18 Keep a caravan diary

Every time you sit down in the van on site, you remember one or two things you forgot to get fixed at the last service. Keep a caravan diary so you don’t forget the silly things that bug you on site when handing the van over to the workshop.
■ Every time you travel 

 

19 Disinfect your fresh water system

Flushing the fresh water system minimises the chances of germs and bacteria getting into your caravan’s water supply. Use a mild Milton mixture and run it through the system. Rinse thoroughly afterwards.
■ Annually 

 

20 Check your paperwork is up to dateTl_extracted 1

There’s a lot of paperwork associated with a caravan and it doesn’t hurt to audit it all occasionally. Check you have registered your CRiS number with HPI and your Secure wheel lock with Al-Ko, and just check your car breakdown cover and caravan insurance is all up to date before heading out on tour.
■ Twice a year

 

 

 

Tl_extracted 1

21 Go to some new sites

We’ve all got our favourite sites, but try out a new site or two each year. You might find a new favourite or realise that one you’ve been going to for the last 20 years isn’t as good as you thought… ■ Once a year 

 

 

22 Leave more travel time

It’s meant to be fun, so why do you put yourself under so much pressure? Leave earlier, or at least let the site know you might be arriving late, and take the pressure off.
■ Every time you travel 

 

23 Get more from your club membership

You pay your subs but are you getting the most from your Caravan Club or Camping and Caravanning Club membership? You probably use the site network, but both major clubs offer so much more. Use the travel services, attend a local meet or book a place at the annual national rally to see what the clubs are really about.
■ Once a year 

 

24 Be punctual

Arriving at a site hours early is pointless. You’ll be in the way of all the departures and you won’t be able to get onto a pitch until after lunch. Similarly, you will be seriously unpopular if you take hours to pack up and are late leaving the site. Take heed of the site timings and stick to them. It’s only polite.

■ Every time you travel 

 

25 Clean and tidy

Site washroom areas are communal so it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep them clean. Use the mop to wipe through the shower after use and rinse the sink after shaving to ensure you leave things as you’d like to find them.
■ Every time you travel 

 

26 Use your mirrors

Unless you have a very wide towcar and a conspicuously narrow caravan, you are going to need extension mirrors. Fit them, adjust them properly and enjoy the better vision around your outfit.
■ Every time you travel 

 

27 Load for stability

The basic loading rules are simple. Put the heavy stuff as close to the axle as you can at floor level. Everything else should go between the axle and the hitch end of the van with only very light things going behind the axle. Doing this every time you travel builds stability into the outfit.
■ Every time you travel

Tl_extracted 1

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