Avoiding motorhome breakdown: essential steps and checks to make
As more of us are enjoying holidaying at home these days, hitting the open road in your motorhome can be a brilliant way to explore what the UK has to offer. The thing is, as we get caught up in the excitement of holidaying, motorhome breakdown isn’t something that crosses everyone's mind — but it pays to be prepared just in case. So we’ve put together a list of the most common causes of motorhome breakdowns are, and what you can do to avoid them.
The common causes
There’s a variety of reasons why your motorhome could breakdown, and the most common simply boil to down to poor maintenance. For instance, water leaks, if left untreated, can lead to serious bodywork and engine damage. This is particularly apparent during the winter months when most motorhomes will be in storage, so do check in on them once in a while to make sure everything’s in tip top shape. Here are the examples of any damage or poor maintenance that could lead to a breakdown:
- Tyre damage
- Engine wear and tear
- Bodywork problems
- Battery issues
- Electrical faults
- Water damage
When undertaking motorhome maintenance, it’s really worth learning about preventative measures you can take to help fight off the dreaded breakdown. So, with that in mind, here’s how you can do just that.
Simple steps to take
While most of the common causes for motorhome breakdowns cannot be prevented, and are just part of the ongoing maintenance of owning a motorhome, there are some measures that you can take to limit the effects a breakdown can have. It is a good idea, for example, to fit Tyron Safety Bands to your motorhome. These will hold the wheel and tyre together, reducing the impact of a tyre blowout, and help you to keep more control over the motorhome. It’s also advisable to have a spare tyre with you when travelling, just in case you suffer a flat tyre.
You also might want to consider fitting a tyre pressure monitoring system, such as TyrePal, to your motorhome. This will alert you to any potential tyre problems before they occur. For example, the TyrePal system monitors the pressure and temperature of your motorhome tyres, warns you of low or high tyre pressure, a puncture, or a high tyre temperature that could cause a blowout.
Loss of power to items in the living quarters is another common cause for call-outs, so ensure that there is always enough power in your leisure battery to prevent this. If you use your motorhome often, have you considered solar panel installation? It could be a nifty way to help keep your leisure battery charged. For more information on how to preserve your motorhome’s battery, check out our article on just that.
Essential checks you should make
Before setting off on a long journey, there are a few checks you can conduct on your motorhome. One of the most useful checks to make occurs when you take your motorhome out of storage. It really is worth it to give it a once over, and check everything’s in working order. In addition, get your motorhome serviced at the recommended intervals (usually annually) to pick up any problems with it. If you fancy doing a few checks yourself though at home, here are a few examples:
Check your tyres are at the correct pressures by using a good quality gauge or the nearest garage air line. You can find the recommended tyre pressures for your vehicle in its accompanying handbook. You should also visually check for cuts in the tyres, as they could soon lead to punctures. Finally, ensure that tread depth is at least 1.6mm, which is the minimum requirement in the UK. However, this may change if you’re planning to go abroad, so make sure you double check.
If your motorhome has a mobility kit, including a pump and tyre sealant, make sure to check the sealant’s use-by date. There’s always the chance you might need to replace it before your next trip.
Spare wheel and toolkit
Always check that you are equipped with a spare wheel, repair kit, and any necessary tools before travelling — such as wheel clamps and chocks. The toolkit should include tools to help you fix basic aspects to your motorhome on the move: such as loose fittings and minor electrical problems.
You should regularly check the dipstick to make sure the oil levels in your motorhome are correct, especially before a long journey. If it appears that oil consumption is high, it could mean that there are underlying engine problems — if in doubt, take it to a professional for a check-up.
While the engine is cold, it’s worth checking the coolant level and the antifreeze concentration. This is really important, even during summer, as it will allow you to spot any leakage. The expansion tank, where the liquid sits, should not need refilling often, usually after every other service, so any loss of liquid needs to be looked at as it could represent a serious engine problem.
It’s also worth checking the coolant levels as the engine is running, as some leakage can occur when it’s hot rather than cold. To do this safely, remove the ignition key and complete your checks without attempting to remove any engine components.
Electrical components, such as your lights and wipers, shouldn’t fail often. However, hiccups will occur should you suffer a blown fuse. So always make sure you check your headlights, indicators, brake lights, fog lights, and wipers regularly. Just be on the lookout for any loose connecting wires, as this can often be the cause of an electrical issue — and carry spare parts too.
Always be sure to check your engine's battery, and leisure battery if you have one fitted, has enough charge for your journey; especially if your motorhome has been off the road for a while. If that is the case, you even may want to charge it briefly beforehand to be safe. This is important because a low battery can potentially result in the engine not starting. You can check its voltage using a multimeter.
For any more information on motorhome insurance, head to our insurance section.