5 Signs of Winter Caravan Wear and Tear That Could Affect Your Premium
As the colder months approach, it’s worth taking extra care to ensure your caravan stays safe and in great condition. A large part of this is thorough preparation, as well as spotting the tell-tale signs of wear and tear. Dealing with these symptoms of degradation early can save you a lot of difficulty and money in the long term, especially when it comes to your repair bills and insurance costs.
With this in mind, here are five areas to focus on when making sure your caravan is ready to hit the road in the best possible shape.
1. Bodywork dirt and debris
A buildup of dirt, air pollution, and tree debris can compromise the bodywork of your caravan, making it more susceptible to deterioration. As such, part of your routine when preparing the caravan for winter should be to wash it thoroughly using a non-abrasive caravan cleaning product.
Washing the bodywork also provides an ideal opportunity to inspect its condition; if you find pinprick holes or what appear to be white powder deposits, these are signs that corrosion may have already taken hold. This problem is best dealt with professionally, and the quiet winter months provide the ideal opportunity to book the unit into a workshop. As a rule, the quicker you deal with it, the less expensive it is to fix.
To stave off bodywork damage and other causes of deterioration during the winter months, covered storage is the most effective preventative measure. If you are keeping the caravan at home, a garage or car port is the best way forward. A caravan cover is an alternative option; however, you should be careful to ensure that the cover does not ‘seal’ the unit, as this can lead to problems with damp and condensation. To that end, you should always use a breathable cover from a reputable supplier specifically designed for your caravan, such as Protec or Specialised.
If you are not going to be using the caravan over winter, a dedicated storage facility is the safest method of protection.
2. Seal damage
Weakened seals around the bodywork joints can create entry points for water. Consequently, it’s worth checking these seams carefully for any signs of cracking, wearing away, and loosening. Areas to focus on include the windows, vents, rooflights, and awning channel rails.
You can repair the damage yourself relatively easily, just ensure you use a dedicated caravan all-purpose sealant and adhesive, such as Sikaflex 512. Small measures like this can really help to ensure your caravan remains watertight; something that can prove invaluable if you get caught out in bad weather on a winter break.
3. Tyre cracking
At any time of the year, caravan tyre failure can lead to a severe disruption of your holiday. Checking your tyres is therefore essential to keeping you safe, not to mention reducing the risk of accidents and keeping your no-claims bonus intact.
Winter brings additional considerations; for one, gritted or ice-damaged roads increase the chances of pieces of debris becoming embedded, which can damage the casing if not removed. Also, if the caravan is left immobile for long periods, it increases the likelihood of tyre sidewall deterioration.
When your caravan is out of use, it’s worth either moving it or jacking it up to rotate the wheels once a month; the benefit being that the weight of the caravan is not resting permanently on the same parts of the tyres. Before each journey: check the tyre pressure, inspect for any sidewall damage, and monitor the tread levels — of course, repair or replace any damaged tyres before your next journey.
For extra security on your winter break, the TyrePal system actively and continually monitors your caravan tyres when on the go, while Tyron safety bands are designed to help you steer your car and caravan to safety in the event of a blowout.
4. Battery charge levels
Winter caravan trips usually mean extra heating and lighting, so it’s more important than ever to keep your caravan’s leisure battery in tip-top condition.
Battery manufacturers generally recommend regular top-up charging (every 4-6 weeks) if left unused; doing so prevents the battery from deteriorating prematurely. The easiest way to keep on top of this is with a charger that features a maintenance phase charging function (also known as Smart or 3 phase chargers). Simply connect your battery and a pulse charge is delivered if voltage drops below a predetermined level; something less to worry about on your trip.
When not in use, store your battery in a cool, dry place. Very cold conditions, for example, can add to battery wear and tear, so it’s generally a good idea to remove your battery from an unheated garage, especially as the weather begins to turn very cold , although do check that alarms and trackers can be left without a battery in circuit.
5. Evidence of damp
The earlier you identify a damp problem in your caravan, the greater the chances of being able to fix it, before problems that cause extensive damage, such as mould and mildew, take hold.
When your caravan is not in use, including during winter storage, it’s worth regularly taking a reading with a damp meter. This practice pays dividends after a winter caravan break; meter readings can give a useful early warning of problems such as leaks and excessive condensation. If the reading is high, you should seek professional advice to identify the source of it immediately — this could be a bodywork or sealant leak if not a galley appliance fault. It’s also important to ensure sufficient air circulation to reduce the risk of mildew; air vents should remain uncovered when the unit is being stored.
For more tips on keeping your caravan safe and healthy, visit our advice section.