Bumps in the road: preparing your motorhome for a road trip
Club Care Motorhome Insurance
One important step to take before any journey is to check that you have the right insurance cover in place. Club Care's Motorhome Insurance can be tailored to fit your needs, so you'll have complete peace of mind.
From ensuring that everything in the galley is ticking over smoothly through to checks for general roadworthiness, a typical motorhome presents lots of things to monitor.
When it comes particularly to pre-trip checks, having a system is invaluable: the ability to go through the essentials methodically to ensure nothing is missed will pay dividends in the long run. With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide to pre-trip preparation for motorhome owners to help you get started.
First trip of the year? ‘De-winterise’ your motorhome
A motorhome left exposed to the elements when not in use becomes more susceptible to bodywork damage and other maintenance headaches. As such, winter storage at a dedicated facility is recommended: it’s far less likely that problems such as corrosion and damp will occur, which in turn means that pre-trip preparation is that much easier once the camping season begins. Furthermore, with Club Care, storage at a CaSSOA site can earn you discounts on your motorhome insurance policy.
Come spring time, it’s a case of following the manufacturer’s guidelines for de-winterising your vehicle, paying particular attention to the habitation systems. For instance, a few months without use will almost certainly mean that the water system will need to be flushed out. For this, park up close to a drain and connect your van to the mains water supply and leave the taps running for a few minutes. This enables the old dirty water to run clear, providing you the opportunity to check for frost damage to the system. Annual descaling and a disinfection procedure are also worth undertaking at this point, too.
Check the servicing schedule
Most manufacturers recommend that you service your motorhome once a year, and failure to keep up to date with this could lead to invalidating your warranty; which none of us want. Your servicing schedule and pre-trip checks go hand-in-hand. The service involves thorough expert inspection to minimise deterioration and pick up on hard-to-spot problems, while your own checks are necessary to identify and deal with issues that might occur between servicing.
We — along with all major manufacturers — recommend that motorhome owners use the Approved Workshop Scheme for servicing. Spring can be the ideal time to arrange this, giving you the reassurance of knowing that major maintenance issues have been addressed before your year of touring begins.
Essential checks for roadworthiness
If your motorhome has been out of use for a long period, the tyres can become more prone to deterioration, so make sure to check that the tread levels and pressure are at the levels recommended by your manufacturer. Inspect the surfaces for signs of bulging, cracking, and any impaled objects. Each of these issues increases the risk of a blowout; if you spot a problem, have the tyres checked out by a specialist for advice on repair or replacement.
If left untreated, a small windscreen chip can quickly develop into an expensive repair job, so inspect the windscreen before each journey — as well as keeping a look out for chips throughout the trip. Club Care Insurance offers unlimited windscreen cover and a 24-hour windscreen repair line which can prove especially useful if you spot a problem when away from home.
When it comes to making sure your brakes are in working order, apply a little bit of pressure to them. This will give you a good indication. A bulb check is also recommended, so go through the front and rear lamps, brake lights and indicators to see if a new bulb is required — it’s far easier to resolve something like this before you hit the road.
Preparing the habitation area
Your leisure battery is the ‘powerhouse’ behind your motorhome’s habitation features, and, rather than being something to think about just before you set off, maintaining your leisure battery should be an ongoing process. Depending on the model, the manufacturer may recommend keeping it topped up to at least 50% capacity. To that end, it’s worth investing in a trickle charger, so charging is taken care of automatically without you having to remember to check the levels.
Similarly, it’s always worth turning on each gas and electrical appliance to ensure it is in working order before you set off. Most gas appliances need to be serviced regularly by a gas engineer — separate from your general motorhome servicing — so check this schedule is up to date. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are both essential, so make sure you also check they’re working properly before you set off.
To ensure the motorhome remains watertight, you should also inspect all external seals for signs of fraying or cracking whilst paying particular attention to the seals around the windows and skylights. This is a key aspect of preventing leaks and damp, so be sure to include it as part of your inspection routine for each trip.
Storing your gear the safe way
When packing your contents, it’s vital not to exceed the payload of your motorhome; overloading can not only result in a fine and points on your licence, it hinders control of the vehicle, puts excess pressure on your tyres and increases the likelihood of accidents. You can find detailed advice on calculating payload in our technical information pages.
When ensuring an even and safe distribution of weight, position heavy items on the floor towards the centre of the vehicle, place medium weight items on the floor and spread them evenly throughout the vehicle, while only light items should be placed in top cupboards and lockers. Check all items are secured to avoid them becoming loose when on the road.
Safety customisations and insurance
There are several additions you can make to your motorhome to ensure an incident-free touring trip. For instance, a TyrePal monitoring device will constantly track tyre pressure to provide an early warning of potential issues when on the road, while Tyron safety bands can give you just enough traction to steer to safety in the event of a blowout. Likewise, a reversing camera can give you a vital forewarning of obstacles when manoeuvring in and out of a tricky spot.
Remember: as well as offering invaluable safety measures to your vehicle, they result in meaningful discounts to your insurance premium with Club Care. As a legal requirement to driving your motorhome, reducing this outlay pays dividends in the future — plus it’s hard to argue against the value of knowing that you’re completely covered, whatever the weather.
Following these steps will go a long way to ensuring your motorhome is more than prepared for any long distance trip. For more information on how investing in extra safety measures for your motorhome can affect your premium, take a closer look at Club Care's Motorhome Insurance to discover how careful owners are rewarded.