There’s no downside to regular maintenance of your car, caravan or motorhome. It’ll keep you safe and lower your running costs. These are the basics you need to know.
Towcar or motorhome
■ Tyres Ensure that all tyres have at least the legal minimum tread of 1.6mm over the central three quarters of the tyres’ width and are correctly inflated to the manufacturer’s instructions. Look for any physical damage, such as cracking.
■ Vital fluids Every month, check the brake fluid and coolant levels. Top up if necessary.
■ Wiper blades Torn or cracked blades can fail an MoT. Replace if necessary.
■ Headlamps Ensure your headlamps (sidelights, dipped beam, full beam), indicators, fog lamps, hazard warning lights and reversing lights work. Check that the lenses are not cracked and
there’s no water inside. All are MoT failure points.
■ Corner steadies Check these carefully and grease the threads if necessary.
■ Hitch-head damper Test by pushing it in as far as it will go – it should slowly come back out. Grease if necessary.
■ Coupling head Lubricate if it needs it (but NOT if you have an Al-Ko stabiliser).
■ Jockey wheel Check that it doesn’t stick. Lubricate with grease if necessary.
■ Breakaway cable If there are any kinks, or frayed areas, replace the cable.
■ Handbrake Check the brake’s operation and adjust if necessary.
■ 12N and 12S sockets If your caravan has these (rather than the modern 13-pin type) gently clean the pins with emery paper to maintain a good connection.
■ Wheel nuts Ensure that they’re set to the correct torque. Do this before every trip.
■ Tyres Check all, including the spare (also see overleaf). And, grease the spare wheel rack.
■ Brakes Remove the wheels and brake drums, clear any dust and check the condition of the brake shoes (replace immediately if they are very worn).
■ Battery Use a multimeter to check the voltage, and charge if necessary.
■ Toilet Remove the cassette from the toilet. Make sure it can be removed and replaced without resistance, and check that there are no cracks or leaks.
■ Gas appliances Ensure that all burners on your hob and grill burn with a clean, blue flame. If there’s any yellow or flaring in the flame, it could mean a blocked flue and the release of deadly carbon monoxide. The same applies to your heater.
■ Fire extinguisher Ensure that it’s still within its date, and that the tag hasn’t been taken off its trigger mechanism.
■ Water system Check everything flows well. Change the water filter if necessary.
■ Smoke alarm Test it, and fit a new battery if necessary. (You should do this every six months as a matter of course).
Clean your wiper blades with a damp cloth and a little vinegar. It’s extremely effective at removing road grime and won’t damage the rubber on your blades.
Stop up your waste water pipes and pour in sterilising solution until it overflows into the sink. It’s a great way to clean it and remove odours.
For more information
Mobile Caravan Engineers Association Web www.mobilecaravanengineers.co.uk. Tel 01209 710 468
NCC Approved Workshops (Jones Vening) Web www.approvedworkshops.co.uk. Tel 01547 560 456
The Caravan Manual by John Wickersham (£14.99, Haynes Publishing, ISBN 9781859603338)
The Motorcaravan Manual by John Wickersham (£17.99, Haynes Publishing, ISBN 9781844250479)