Like any motor vehicle, caravans need a little TLC every once in a while. If you just got a caravan and have questions about the servicing process and how necessary it is, consider this your complete guide to all things related to caravan inspections and services.
Servicing a brand new caravan can feel unnecessary and expensive, but it’s the best thing to do if you want to keep your caravan in tip-top shape for years to come.
To understand the benefits of caravan servicing, what it entails, how to find the best service centre, and more, read this article that has everything you need to know.
- Caravan Servicing Legal Requirements
- Benefits of Caravan Servicing
- Typical Servicing Process
- What a Servicing Does NOT Check
- Water Systems and Sterilisation
- How to Find the Best Caravan Servicer
- Final Note
Caravan Servicing Legal Requirements
Currently, in the UK, there is no legal requirement for having your caravan serviced. Cars and other motorised vehicles typically require a yearly inspection and servicing to be road-approved.
But most experts, UK manufacturers, and service professionals recommend getting a caravan serviced at least once a year or more frequently if you use it a lot. But once again, there is no legal requirement, only manufacturer warranty requirements.
Benefits of Caravan Servicing
While servicing your caravan can be time-consuming, you consider it necessary. To understand why this action is so important and valuable, read the benefits of caravan servicing below.
Ensures Road Safety
Just as with any motor vehicle, it’s important to keep all of the mechanised parts in good working condition to avoid problems or accidents on the road. If you don’t change the oil in your car and have the check engine light checked out, you can run into severe problems while driving.
A caravan is no different, and the last thing you want to do is create a road hazard for you, your passengers, and other people on the road. Not servicing your caravan regular is just as irresponsible as driving a vehicle you know is in a terrible and unsafe condition.
Maintains a Warranty
Manufacturer warranties often require you to service your caravan regularly to ensure the parts are maintained throughout normal wear and tear. If you go years and many kilometres without getting the vehicle serviced, it can void the warranty.
As far as the manufacturer is concerned, you did not perform standard maintenance; therefore, they’re not responsible for broken or malfunctioning parts. If you have a good warranty that you want to keep, you have to get the caravan serviced to keep it intact.
Avoid Expensive Emergency Repairs
If you risk not having the caravan serviced before a long trip and something happens that requires repairs or replacements, these repairs will likely be far more expensive than a fix during servicing. You may have to pay more because the malfunction was more serious or to have your caravan prioritised at whatever shop you could find along your route.
You may also pay extra to have parts rushed to the location of your caravan. Not only will this cost you considerable money, but it delays your road trip and could make you miss reservations or have to skip excursions due to time constraints.
Whether your caravan is new or used, you probably won’t hang onto it forever. If you foresee selling your caravan one day, even if you sell it for parts, getting it serviced regularly keeps it in good condition so you can increase or maintain the value. If you let the caravan go a long time without service, you may not be able to sell it if it falls into a decrepit and unusable state.
You’ll be surprised how much simple servicing rather than fancy upgrades can increase the value of your caravan. Don’t neglect your caravan. Everyone wants to sell their used caravan for a pretty penny when they decide to move on to a new adventure.
Caravans are large motorised vehicles that have the potential to pose safety threats that result in personal injury. Many people use caravans to travel with their family and other loved ones, so why would anyone want to take the risk of one of these people being injured by an unserviced caravan?
Even if everything seems in working condition to you, it’s always better to have a professional with years of experience take a look every so often.
Peace of Mind
Even if you think your caravan is in excellent condition, getting it serviced gives you and your passengers peace of mind. If you’re not an expert on motor vehicles and caravans, it can be hard to notice the warning signs of a problem. And tiny problems can become massive issues in a short amount of time.
A quick fix may lead to a major problem if you skip regular caravan servicing. Rather than wonder and question if any parts of your caravan are worn, take it to a qualified technician so you can get the all-clear or not from someone who knows what they’re talking about.
Typical Servicing Process
A standard caravan service focuses on ensuring all of the moving parts are in good working condition and have been well-lubricated.
A caravan service is intended to make sure the mechanics and vital components necessary for travel do not need any repair or replacement. Realizing that you need new brakes while in the middle of nowhere on a road trip is a frustrating and sometimes scary predicament. Regular servicing can help you avoid this and other problems like it.
Most mechanics and caravan service centres will check that the following parts are ready to operate for optimal safety and towing:
- Couplings: The device that connects two shafts to precisely transmit power from the drive side to the driven side.
- Brakes: The mechanical element that allows the driver to brake on their vehicle and have the motor home brake in tandem.
- Wheel bearings: The component that connects each wheel to the axel. These parts are important and go through a lot of wear and tear.
- Suspension: A caravan’s suspension helps absorb shocks from bumpy roads. Without a decent suspension system, the caravan will need other parts replaced more often.
- Springs: The springs are the most important part of the suspension system. The springs prevent impact on the chassis and make it possible for the vehicle to hold various weights and cargo loads.
- Bushes: The bushes are another integral part of the suspension system. They are a small rubber or polyurethane component used to isolate vibration, cushion, and reduce friction between all mechanical moving parts.
- Tyres: Tyre service includes the tyres’ rubber, the rim, wheel disc, valves, and more. The entire tyre should be serviced, not just checked for air pressure.
- Lights: A thorough caravan service will cover checking the taillights and ensure each brake light and blinker works properly. It can be hard to realize your lights are faulty while driving, so even if your mechanic skips this check, you should try to check them on your own with the help of someone else. Many caravan service centres will also check the interior lights.
- Chassis: The chassis is one of the biggest moving parts that make up a considerable amount of the caravan’s frame. It is a load-bearing part of the frame that allows people to carry more weight in the caravan without affecting its ability to be towed.
- Jockey wheel: The jockey wheel is part of the towing mechanics. It enables the trailer nose to be lifted over the tow ball of the towing vehicle. Without this, it’s extremely difficult to set up the towing elements while on the road.
- Jacks: The jacks are another integral part of the towing setup. The jacks work in tandem with the jockey wheel but go through decent wear and tear and often need replacing after long trips or use.
- Outrigger: The outrigger is the mechanical component that allows the width of the caravan to extend. This part can be difficult and complex to fix, so it’s crucial the servicer checks this aspect before going on a long trip.
- Hoses: The servicer will check all hoses and power outlets to ensure they work when you need shore power or to empty/fill tanks in the caravan.
- Awnings/tents: Motorized awnings and tents pose a bigger danger than most people realize. A caravan servicer checks these to ensure the mechanics work properly to prevent injuries or accidents.
- Handbrake cable: Most caravans have a handbrake cable for emergency stops. This part is a very important safety component. If the cable is worn, it could snap and make the brake ineffective.
- Plumbing: The plumbing aspects of the caravan are checked to prevent leaks or bursts within the system. Toilets and showers are checked to ensure they’re in good working condition by caravan service centres that also service interior aspects.
- Rusting: A thorough servicer will take note of rust on the caravan. Minor rust is simply a part of owning any vehicle, especially one that isn’t used daily. But extreme rust can make a vehicle unsafe to operate and may require a full-frame replacement.
It’s always wise to ask the mechanic or servicer for a checklist of what they service and focus on. Sometimes not all of the above components will be there.
For example, some mechanics will not service interior components and only focus on the aspects necessary for safe driving. But a comprehensive checklist should include most if not all of these components.
What a Servicing Does NOT Check
Now that we discussed what a caravan service includes, let’s talk about what they do not inspect. Knowing what they don’t check can help you take these tasks upon yourself, so you know your caravan is in excellent condition for driving and general use.
The motor mover is a motorised device that clamps to a caravan chassis. It connects to rollers attached to the caravan wheels, which propel the caravan in the desired direction via a controllable handset.
This part is very complex and requires speciality servicing if there is a problem, but they do not need to be serviced as often because they don’t face as much wear and tear.
Water Systems and Sterilisation
A servicer will typically not check the quality of your water systems. So although many caravan services check that the plumbing is functional, they won’t check if the water is properly filtered and sterilised for use and consumption.
You can do this yourself before a long road trip by adding a safe steriliser to your water tanks and tap water systems.
Many warranty aspects are not serviced, especially if you use a mobile mechanic to service the caravan. Most centres perform these actions, but they do not have to when performing a routine caravan servicing.
You can always ask before you get the caravan serviced if they will perform warranty work to keep your manufacturer warranty in effect.
How to Find the Best Caravan Servicer
It can be hard to find a reliable caravan servicer, so below are some tips to help you choose the best one. There are caravan servicing centres, but there are also mobile shops that come to wherever the caravan is and perform the inspection and necessary minor repairs like lubrication.
No matter which option you choose, keep these things in mind, as they’re a sign of a reliable and trustworthy caravan servicer.
Testimonials and Reputation
The first thing to do is ask friends and family with caravans where they get their vehicle serviced and how they feel about it.
If you don’t know anyone else with a caravan, you can go to Yelp or other review websites and comb through reviews to see which service centres in your area are the most-liked and trusted to offer great service. These websites aren’t always the most reliable but are a wonderful jumping-off point for seeing how previous customers feel about the servicing experience.
There are many RV and caravan forums in the UK you can refer to as these people are often brutally honest. You can ask people questions on these forums about their experience or advice for caravan or campervan servicing.
A good servicer won’t try to pressure or bully you into using their shop, so go with your gut when discussing motorhome servicing.
Qualifications and Certifications
Check to see if they are part of the NCC, which is the National Caravan Council. When narrowing it down, you can look at their websites, which often feature their qualifications, certifications, and any awards either at the bottom of the website or on a separate page.
If you don’t see anything, you can always call or drop in to ask about their qualifications. If the servicer is cagey or doesn’t want to offer solid paperwork or examples of their qualifications and experience, they may not be the best option.
Available Parts and Products
Both mobile service shops and caravan servicing centres should have a variety of parts and products on-site to make minor repairs easy and convenient. If they have nothing on-site and have to order simple and common parts or send you to another store or location for the right products, this can be a hassle.
It doesn’t necessarily mean the servicer doesn’t know what they’re doing or have experience, but it just creates added steps and wait time to get your caravans ready to hit the road.
The best caravan centres will not just jump to the most expensive fix when they find a problem. Most people don’t want to drop extra hundreds or thousands of pounds on something that could be fixed for much less.
If you express your desire to make repairs cost-efficient, a good mechanic or servicer will walk you through options and the different costs of each possibility. Sometimes there are more cost-efficient fixes, and service centres can help you solve these problems without breaking the bank.
If you don’t know much about the mechanics, it can be hard to tell how honest they’re being about your options. But you can always call another repair centre and ask what they typically charge for the type of repair work you need, which will help you compare the costs and make a firm decision.
In the end, you would be remiss not to service your caravan regularly. Doing so gives you confidence on the road and ensures your adventure goes off without a hitch. Even with new caravans, there are so many moving parts and mechanics to take care of that you should always air on the side of caution and get it serviced.
Neglecting your campervan decreases its value and leads to serious situations that may result in personal injury. For your safety and the safety of others, make sure you keep up with routine caravan servicing.
Below are commonly asked questions with answers about caravan servicing to give you more information on the process.
How often should a caravan be serviced?
A caravan should be serviced every 10,000 kilometres. It’s hard to put a length of time on it because some people use their caravan every weekend while others go months without going anywhere.
If you want to go on a trip and your caravan hasn’t been moved in over six months, getting it serviced can be a good idea. Some parts may need repairing after sitting for a long time in the elements due to rust and corrosion.
How much does caravan servicing cost?
The cost of servicing a caravan changes depending on the servicer and the type of caravan. Usually, the more axles, the more expensive the servicing is.
Average prices hover around £150-£250, which does not include any extensive repairs or replaced parts, but the lubrication and checks are included in this price.
Are servicing centres better than mobile shops?
The rule of thumb for this is usually the more work the caravan needs, the more successful the servicing is at an actual service centre.
But if you keep your caravan well-serviced and believe there are little or no parts that will need replacing or repairing, a mobile shop can save you some effort and still give peace of mind before a big trip.