Using your caravan for the first time after winter is always an exciting event, but it’s important that you check for any signs of damage that may have occurred over the winter period. This article highlights some common claims that we receive plus some typical caravan problems and then gives tips on how to spot the warning signs so you can prevent damage or issues which could spoil your first trip of the year.
If you need advice on how to prepare your caravan for winter then have a read of our caravan winterisation article.
Check your tyres
One of the first things you should check are your caravan tyres. As an insurance specialist we receive hundreds of tyre related claims each year, many of which are major road accidents following a blowout.
As you may know, it’s important that you rotate your caravan’s wheels periodically over winter so that the weight isn’t concentrated on one section of the tyres over a long period of time. Of course this may not always work to protect your tyres completely, so it’s important that come spring you check your tyres carefully for signs of warping, cracking or bulging and top up the air pressure to the manufacturer’s recommended level.
We have issued in depth advice on caravan tyre maintenance in a previous article.
It’s also a good idea to check that your caravan’s wheel nuts are properly tightened and that there aren’t any signs of rust or heavy wear.
Spotting signs of damp
Damp is a caravan’s biggest enemy as if left alone it can quickly cause a huge amount of damage, making it vitally important you spot the telltale signs as early as possible and deal with the problem quickly.
Check around windows, doors and skylights for signs of any leaks and also give all upholstery a once over for signs of damp. Your nose is as good a gauge as your eyes for spotting damp, so make sure you keep a nostril out for a fusty, musty smell as this is a big indicator that there is damp or mildew around!
Spot the damp early and it can generally be fixed with a dehumidifier or even a few hours of fresh air circulating.
Safety and security
It’s important to test all of your security equipment is in full working order before setting out on your first trip of the season.
Check your alarm still activates via its door or window contacts, PIR or tilt sensor and check that the siren is still audible. For those of you with tracking devices fitted, it’s also worth towing your caravan a few miles away from its usual storage position and then calling the monitoring centre of your tracking company to make sure they can get its location.
You should also check physical security devices such as your wheelclamp and hitchlock are not showing any serious signs of wear or damage, and that they can be fitted and removed easily without any seizing or sticking.
Fire related caravanning claims were on the increase last year, so if you haven’t already it’s well worth investing in a fire extinguisher so you can tackle a small fire should it break out in your caravan.
A multipurpose dry powder fire extinguisher suitable for A, B and C class fires can tackle most small fires you would get around your caravan such as those involving fabrics, woods and butane or propane gasses.
Note that fires from cooking oils and fats are F class fires so are not to be tackled with an ABC fire extinguisher, therefore a fire blanket is great to have to throw over small cooking fires.
And if you do already have a fire extinguisher in your caravan, be sure to check the expiry date to ensure it is still useable and then replace if needs be.
Of course if the fire is large and spreading quickly don’t try to tackle yourself, just get all occupants out of the caravan to safety asap and call the fire brigade.
Get paperwork in order
It can be difficult to remember when the renewal dates are for all the different services you make use of when caravanning, with things such as your caravan insurance, car breakdown, tracking device subscription, travel insurance or even your passport all being things that need to be checked and renewed when appropriate. You don’t want to be sorting these things out when you’re on a trip.
To make life a lot easier we recommend taking ten minutes to write all of the different renewal / expiry dates down on to one piece of paper, and then keep a copy of this in your caravan, and a second copy in a convenient place at home. That way, you can check at a glance when something is coming up for renewal and ensure when you hit the road you are still fully covered.
Keeping your caravan clean on the inside and out will help to prolongue its life and keep it in tip top condition. This is not only important for the enjoyment of your caravanning holidays, but also means that if you decide to change or upgrade your caravan then you will get a much better price when trading in, or selling on privately.
We of course recommend getting your caravan serviced every year to ensure no issues surface whilst on the road or on a campsite. Of course caravan dealerships and service centre workshops get busy at this time of year so if your ‘van is due a service before your next big trip be sure to get it booked in early.