These workshops have a range of specialist equipment that most owners will not have access to, such as a ramp, special tools and gas and electrical testing equipment. It is recommended that you have the caravan serviced at least once a year - or more often for intensive use - and that you also carry out regular basic user maintenance throughout the year. Manufacturers- warranty schemes generally insist on at least an annual service and most will accept a service done by an AWS member for this purpose, but check with you unit's manufacturer.
Remember, not all items in the caravan or motorhome will be covered by the annual service by default. The refrigerator, for example, may need periodic servicing, with at least one company requiring an annual service for its fridges as part of the warranty agreement. However, refrigerators - as with cookers and space heaters - are normally only checked for correct functioning during an annual service. You should check the applicable component maker's instructions or warranty for the frequency of servicing of these items and advise your workshop if you require the appliance to be serviced rather than just checked for function.
On completion of a service, an Approved Workshop will provide you with a service checklist that itemises all the points checked and will include advice and information on tyre condition and pressures. Remember tyres deteriorate with age and even though you may have plenty of tread left your workshop will advise replacement if they are more than seven years old (using the date marked on the tyre). AWS members will only carry out extra work or replace parts if they are safety related or with your specificpermission, but always agree with your workshop how to deal with extra identified works. Some workshops operate on the basis of undertaking any additional work up to a value of say - 30, which eliminates the need for referral back for small items such as the replacement of bulbs. Approved Workshops will provide a detailed written estimate for works likely to exceed -150.
A vital part of any annual service is the damp check and this is an integral part of an Approved Workshop service. A separate damp report giving moisture content readings will be supplied, based on multiple checks as required by the scheme. You should note that the moisture readings will always be above zero and as the guidance notes on the report indicate, anything up to 15 per cent is considered normal. Your workshop will be able to provide appropriate advice for readings above 15 per cent.
Subject to complying with the manufacturer's warranty requirements, consider having a service completed during the winter months when the workshops are less busy. Try to avoid the early spring when everyone wants a service or repair ready for the new season, unless you are prepared to book the service months in advance. If you are one of the growing band of all-year caravanners, let the workshop know if you are still using the caravan, or it may automatically drain down the water system during the winter period.
You may be asked by your workshop to have a periodical inspection report (PIR) undertaken of your mains electrical system at additional cost. This check must only be undertaken by a qualified person. It is part of the UK Wiring Regulations and recommended by caravan and motorhome manufacturers. Such checks should be undertaken at least every three years. Some campsites may require evidence of this electrical check having been completed although Club Sites do not do so, on the basis that the Club's responsibility for electrical safety ends at the Club's bollard and the user is responsible for his or her unit.