Going away is fun isn’t it? You feel elated, relaxed and nothing can put you in a damp mood. That is until you realise there is a pile of dirty clothing as tall as Mt Everest waiting for you to unpack and wash.
But it is important to get onto some of the other more tedious tasks straight away before you forget and the year starts to take off before your eyes. After all, there are some life-saving items like first aid kits and fire extinguishers on-board that may need replacing before your next trip.
The obvious things after you get home are to unload all the contents, including your companions and giving the caravan/vehicle a nice wash while throwing out things that are about to expire and store away your utensils.
But many people forget there are extra steps required in ensuring that your pride and joy will last you for years and most importantly, remain safe for your next trip away.
Here are 12 maintenance and storage tips you’re probably NOT doing.
1. Removing all food – including non-perishables
If you are not going to be using your caravan for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to remove all types of food, including things like cookies or crackers, tea bags, coffee beans and sugar. The last thing you want is to potentially attract rodents who wind up making themselves right at home.
2. Replacing life-saving items
As mentioned, it’s important to make a stock inventory of life-saving items such as the contents of your first aid kit and replacing things you have used. Do it while it’s still fresh in your mind, otherwise, you might find yourself in a sticky situation needing a bandage and not having one on-board.
If you have used the fire extinguisher partially, don’t forget to recharge it. You can reuse it provided that the gauge is still in the green.
Sometimes it ends up being cheaper buying a brand new fire extinguisher rather than having your existing one topped up. They also need a regular service every six months or so and with so many fire services out there, it’s a good idea to call around and get a few quotes first.
Take stock with a first aid stocktake
3. Checking leads and connections
Easy to overlook but just as important to remember. You’ll want to make sure all connections are clean of debris, are not rusted and haven’t suffered significant wear and tear on the road - especially if you’ve just been off-roading.
Apply an inhibitor like WD40 on the trailer plug and battery terminals, which will help to stop it from corrosion and protect against moisture.
4. Putting your BMS into storage mode
It is important to put your battery management system into storage mode as it is designed to charge the house battery to its optimal level and maintain that level while your caravan is in storage.
It's also important that all loads are disconnected from the house battery in this mode. Failure to do so may result in the battery being undercharged, leading to false readings on the State of Charge indicator and possibly cause damage to loads when they are reconnected.
Storage mode can maintain the longevity of expensive batteries
5. Battery care and maintenance
Just like regularly servicing your vehicle, your car and auxiliary batteries should also have a routine service and check, which can be carried out yourself.
- First, disconnect the battery to prevent battery drain.
- Then clean and dry your battery from any dirt and grime to prevent build-up. Ensure terminals, screws and clamps are clean, tight and free of corrosion.
- Test the battery using a hydrometer or voltmeter. This will help you avoid the pitfalls and costs often associated with a flat battery.
Batteries have a finite life, and although it's impossible to know when a battery may fail, a slow starting engine may be an indication that it’s on its way out.
But by doing these routine checks, selecting the correct charger for your battery, never under or overcharging as well as keeping an eye out for physical damage, will ensure your batteries have a longer life.
For more info on proper battery maintenance and care, check out century batteries' tips.
6. Properly maintaining your tyres
If your caravan’s tyres are exposed to the sun, then it’s a good idea to have them covered as they can get damaged from UV rays. Even better still is having them lifted off the ground as this will prevent flat spots from forming.
Also, check the date of manufacture of tyres as the general life expectancy is 5 years. After this, the tyres may become more susceptible to punctures.
The proper tyre care will ensure you get maximum use out of them
7. Long-term storage
If storing your van long-term it may well be worth considering storing in your garage, if space permits. If not, consider a self-storage facility. Many of these facilities are secure and allow you 24-hour access so you can come and go as you please. What’s more, you may be able to negotiate a reduced rate for long-term use.
It also pays to still have insurance even whilst you’re not using your caravan. If for any reason you need to make a claim during this period, you'll want to make sure you're covered.
8. Investing in a trailer cover
If left outside to the elements, ensure your caravan/camper trailer is covered to reduce in the ingress of moisture. Leave vents open slightly to maintain some air flow.
Avoid the harsh after effects of life off the road with a well fitting cover
9. Parking at an angle
Park the trailer at an angle to allow water to run off and not pool in corners, otherwise rust could form.
10. Regreasing any greaseable parts
This is another thing to add to the maintenance bucket list to ensure that chains, suspension, tow hitches and hinges, even like those the caravan door or on kitchen components, stand the test of time.
Worth its weight in gold
11. Appliances off
This one is probably a given but is well worth mentioning to ensure the gas and water pumps are turned off as well as any electrical appliances.
12. Leaving the fridge open
When the fridge isn’t running, ensure that it remains open so air can get in. This prevents that musty smell from having the fridge door being closed for long spells and it certainly can't hurt to run it every once and awhile to make sure it functions correctly.