Owning a motorhome is a thrilling adventure, offering the freedom to explore the UK's beautiful landscapes at your leisure. However, the chilly winter months present a unique set of challenges for motorhome owners. To safeguard your vehicle from costly damages during this period, it's crucial to follow a guide to winterising your motorhome in the UK.
WHY WINTERISING YOUR MOTORHOME IS ESSENTIAL
Proper winterisation of your motorhome is important to prevent damage caused by freezing temperatures. Water left in the plumbing system can freeze, leading to ruptured pipes and fresh water tanks.
Additionally, the vehicle battery, tyres, and engine fluids require special attention during this time. Considering the expensive repairs that could arise from neglecting these tasks, winterising your motorhome is a wise investment in the long run.
The risks of not winterising your motorhome
Not winterising your motorhome can lead to several problems, including:
- Water damage: Water left in the plumbing system can freeze, potentially leading to burst pipes and fresh and wastewater tanks.
- Battery failure: Cold temperatures can cause the battery to discharge, which can lead to irreparable damage.
- Tyre degradation: Tyres exposed to the cold can develop flat spots, which can affect the vehicle's performance when you start using it again.
- Engine fluid issues: Engine fluids can thicken in sub zero temperatures, affecting the performance of your motorhome.
WHEN TO WINTERISE YOUR MOTORHOME
Typically, you should winterise your motorhome before the temperature drops below freezing. In the UK, you should ideally have your motorhome winterised and stored away by late Autumn. However, if you reside in colder regions, like the Scottish Highlands, you might need to start the process as early as early Autumn.
SHOULD I HEAT MY MOTORHOME IN THE WINTER?
Absolutely, you should heat your motorhome in the winter! Just because it's a mobile home doesn't mean it doesn't need the same level of care and maintenance as a regular house, particularly when the temperatures drop.
Heating your motorhome not only ensures you stay comfortable and cozy, but it also prevents potential damage caused by freezing temperatures. Pipes can freeze and burst, causing significant damage and costly repairs.
Appliances such as a fresh water tank may also malfunction in cold temperatures. Plus, if there's any moisture inside, it could cause dampness or even mold if the temperature inside drops too low.
HOW TO WINTERISE YOUR MOTORHOME
Winterising your motorhome involves several steps, including draining the water system, maintaining the battery, and checking vehicle fluids.
Draining the water system
The most critical step in winterising your motorhome is to completely drain the water systems. This includes all water tanks, pipes, valves, and taps. The following steps will guide you through the process:
- Park over a drainage point: Ensure your motorhome is parked over a suitable drainage point to allow water to drain away effectively.
- Open all drainage outlets: Open the outlets to your fresh and waste water tanks, including the water heater if fitted.
- Open all internal taps: Open all internal taps and leave them open until you next use your vehicle. This includes mixer taps, which should be left in a central open position.
- Drain the shower: If your motorhome has a shower, remove the showerhead and let the supply hoses hang into the shower tray to drain.
- Check for remaining water: Use a drainage accessory like a drain-down kit to ensure all water is removed from the system.
- Go for a short drive: Drive your motorhome with all drainage outlets open to shake out any remaining water.
Maintaining the Battery
Keep your motorhome's leisure batteries charged even if you are not using the motorhome in the winter. Batteries naturally discharge over time, and allowing them to fully discharge could cause irreparable damage.
- Charge the batteries: Before storing your motorhome, fully charge the leisure batteries.
- Monitor the battery status: During winter storage, check the battery status periodically and recharge if necessary.
- Use a trickle charger: If possible, consider using a trickle charger to maintain the battery charge over the winter.
Checking vehicle fluids
Before storing your motorhome, ensure all vehicle fluids are at their optimum levels and in good condition. This includes engine coolant, antifreeze, and engine oil and water levels. You should also top up the windscreen washer solution to prevent it from the freezing weather.
Tyres can degrade over the winter if not properly maintained. Here are some tips on how to manage your tyres:
- Check tyre pressure: Ensure all winter tyres are inflated to the correct pressure. Some experts recommend over-inflating by 0.2 bar for winter storage.
- Move your motorhome: If possible, periodically move your motorhome to prevent flat spots from forming on the tyres.
- Store in a covered area: If possible, store your motorhome in an indoor or covered area to protect the winter tyres from the elements.
Other winterising tips
In addition to the essential steps above, here are some additional tips to prepare your motorhome for winter:
- Clean the interior and exterior: Thoroughly clean your motorhome to remove any food remnants that could attract vermin. Ensure all storage areas and appliances are clean and dry before storage.
- Cover vents: Install fridge vents covers to keep out rain, snow, and rodents.
- Remove batteries from devices: Remove batteries from clocks, smoke alarms, and other devices to prevent them from leaking and causing damage.
- Cover your motorhome: If possible, use motorhome cover to protect your vehicle from extreme cold weather damage. Ensure the cover is breathable to prevent condensation build-up.
STORING YOUR MOTORHOME FOR WINTER
Once your motorhome is properly winterised, it's time to store it away for the winter. Ideally, you should store your motorhome in a secure, indoor location. If this isn't possible, consider using a motorhome cover to provide an extra layer of protection from the elements.
Choosing a storage location
A secure storage location is crucial to protect your motorhome from theft and vandalism. Some options include your driveway, a storage compound at a campsite, or a specialist storage site. Consider the following factors when choosing an alternative storage location:
- Security measures: The site should have robust security measures, such as CCTV, alarms, high fences, and locked gates.
- Surface: The storage surface should be level and hard-standing to prevent your motorhome from getting stuck in soft, wet ground.
- Access: The site should be local and easy to access.
- Ventilation: If storing indoors, ensure the area is well-ventilated to prevent moisture build-up.
While storing your motorhome, ensure all security devices are activated to deter thieves. Remove all valuables from the vehicle, and consider using additional physical security devices for added protection.
TOURING IN YOUR MOTORHOME FOR WINTER
- Understanding the basics: Winter touring in your UK motorhome can be a fun and unique way to experience the country's majestic landscapes. However, it requires careful planning to ensure safety and comfort. You need to consider factors such as the weather, the route, and the necessary preparations for your motorhome.
- Choosing the right motorhome: For winter touring, ensure your modern motorhomes are well-insulated, has a functioning water heater or dual fuel heater, and has winter tires or snow chains. For example, Class C motorhomes are often recommended for winter touring due to their superior insulation.
- Preparing the motorhome: Before setting off, ensure your motorhome is winter-weather ready. This includes filling up with anti-freeze, insulating water pipes, securing thermal screens for windows and roof lights, and packing necessary tools and emergency kits.
- Selecting the route: Plan your route carefully considering road conditions during winter. For example, avoid high altitude areas where roads may be treacherous due to snow or ice. Popular winter motorhome touring destinations in the UK include Cornwall, Devon, and parts of Scotland like the Cairngorms.
- Choosing campsites: Look for campsites that are open in winter and have necessary amenities. Some popular winter-friendly campsites in the UK include the Bath Chew Valley Caravan Park and the Burrowhead Holiday Village in Scotland.
- Safety measures: It's crucial to check weather forecasts frequently and adjust your plans accordingly. Always have a contingency plan in place in case of severe weather.
- Packing essentials: Pack warm clothing, extra blankets, food and water, first aid kit, torch, snow shovel, ice scraper, and other winter essentials.
- Maintaining battery life: Winter can be tough on your motorhome's vehicle and leisure batteries. Keep it fully charged, turn off unnecessary electrical items, and consider using a solar panel for extra power.
- Maximising comfort: Make your motorhome cosy by using thermal curtains, rugs on the floor, and maintaining a comfortable temperature with your central heating system.
- Making the most of your trip: Winter touring can be a magical experience. Enjoy winter activities such as skiing, ice-skating
COLD WEATHER DRIVING TIPS IN THE UK
- Preparation is key: Ensure that your vehicle is winter-ready. This includes checking your tyres for appropriate tread depth and tyre pressures, ensuring your battery is fully charged, and topping up your coolant with antifreeze.
- Pack an emergency kit: Your winter driving kit should include items like a shovel, brush for snow removal, windscreen scraper, de-icer, jumper cables, torch, warm clothing, and food & drink supplies.
- Regularly check weather reports: Keep a keen eye on the forecast before making any long journeys. In case of severe weather warnings, consider postponing your journey if it's not essential.
- Manage your speed: Adjust your speed to the conditions. In snowy or icy conditions, it's crucial to reduce your speed and ensure you have enough time to respond to any unexpected situations.
- Increase your stopping distance: Stopping distances can be up to ten times longer in snowy or icy conditions. Give yourself plenty of space from the vehicle in front.
- Use engine brakes instead of pedals: If you can, try to slow down using engine brakes rather than your foot brakes to avoid skidding.
- Stay in control: If you do get in a skid, don't panic. Steer gently into it - if the back of your car is sliding right, steer right, if it's sliding left, steer left.
- Utilise your lights: Use dipped headlights when visibility is poor, and don’t forget to turn on your fog lights if you’re struggling to see other vehicles.
- Avoid shortcuts: Stick to the main roads as they're more likely to be cleared and gritted. Shortcuts on lesser-used streets may not be as well maintained.
- Stay updated with traffic news: Listen to local news or use navigation apps for live updates on road closures or accidents.
- Consider winter tires: If you live in a region with severe winters, consider fitting winter tyres which are designed to improve performance and grip in the cold winter months.
Remember, the most important tip when driving in winter is to stay safe. If the weather is very bad, consider whether your journey is really necessary.
CAMPSITES OPEN YEAR-ROUND YOU MIGHT WANT TO VISIT IN THE UK
- Castlerigg Hall Caravan and Camping Park: Situated in the Lake District National Park, it offers stunning views of the mountains and Derwentwater. Open throughout the year, it is perfect for those who love walking, hiking, and wildlife watching.
- Rivendale Caravan and Leisure Park: Located in the heart of the Peak District, this park is open all year round. It's a great place to explore local attractions like Dove Dale and Tissington Trail, and offers facilities such as heated shower blocks, which are especially appreciated in colder months.
- Bath Chew Valley Caravan Park: This tranquil and serene park is located in Somerset and open all year round. It's popular among bird watchers and is close to several tourist attractions, including the historic city of Bath and Chew Valley Lake.
- Riverside Caravan Park: Located in Stratford Upon Avon, a town steeped in history and the birthplace of Shakespeare. The park is open year-round, and during the winter months, you can benefit from lower rates.
- Poston Mill Holiday Park: This park is open every day of the year, situated in Herefordshire. Its location in the Golden Valley provides a stunning setting for exploring the great outdoors, with a variety of walking and cycling routes on hand.
- Hardwick Parks: This is a watersports paradise located in Oxfordshire. Open throughout the year, it's perfect for those who enjoy everything from sailing to wakeboarding. It offers serene lake-side pitches for campers.
- Red Kite Touring Park: Located in Powys, Wales, this adult-only touring park is open all year round. It offers a peaceful retreat with well-maintained facilities, including a heated amenities block, making it an ideal destination even in winter.
- Burrowhead Holiday Village: Situated in Scotland, this park is open year-round and offers spectacular coastal views. It's great for those interested in fishing, walking, and exploring the local wildlife.
- The Orchards Holiday Park: Located on the Isle of Wight, this park is open throughout the year and offers both indoor and outdoor pools.
If you happened to have visited this list of campsites, then check out our blog on some of the best UK campsites for your motorhome winter holiday, to discover a cosy place to get you in the festive spirit.
PREPARING FOR SPRING
Before you know it, spring will arrive and it'll be time to hit the road again. When this time comes, reverse the wintersing process to get your motorhome ready. Refill the water system, reconnect the batteries, and check all vehicle fluids.
Remember, it's not just about enjoying your motorhome during the warmer months. Taking the time to follow a guide to winterising your motorhome UK will ensure your vehicle remains in top condition year-round, maximising your investment and ensuring many more seasons of adventure.
Start your adventure today! Call us now on 01865 818341 or click here for a motorhome insurance quote that may fit your budget and vehicle.
Whether you're planning a grand tour of the UK in 2023 or simply looking forward to weekend getaways, this comprehensive guide to winterising your motorhome in the UK will ensure your vehicle is ready for whatever adventure lies ahead.