A quick guide to getting your motorhome ready for the new season.
The first of two guest posts this season from Martin Dorey! You may recognise him from the BBC2 TV show ‘One Man and his Campervan’ and from the ‘Caravanner of the Year’ show. Here he shares his quick guide to getting your motorhome ready for the season – including some of his own amusing experiences. Read on for his top tips…
The sun has (finally) got its hat on after a long winter. That means it’s time for you and your motorhome to come out and play. Your favourite camp site is open and your pitch is waiting.
Before you hit the road it’s important to give your motorhome the once over. If it’s been stored then you’ll need to make sure everything is in perfect condition – otherwise your first outing might be less than perfect.
When it comes to touring and camping, your motorhome or camper van is your most important bit of kit. It needs to be maintained and looked after properly, from making sure your motor home insurance is up to date to flushing out your tanks. If you’ve been camping throughout the winter then you’ll know its foibles by now and will be up to speed with what you need to do. But if your vehicle has been laid up for a while you’ll need to do a few essential checks.
Here’s a quick guide to help you avoid making the same mistakes I have made over the years!
The water system
Your fresh and waste tanks should have been cleaned out at the end of the last season, but can still have some residue in them that could have become nasty with bacteria and algae over the winter. This means the tanks may need sterilising, at the very least they will need flushing thoroughly. To do this, fill up the fresh tank with water (and add a sterilising fluid) and then run taps and shower (both hot and cold) and drain away via the waste tank. Do this a few times to ensure any contaminated water is flushed out. Do the same with the toilet fresh and waste tanks and check all the seals are working properly.
Also check you’ve got all your hoses and connectors ready for when you need to fill up on site. Take it from me that a universal connector could well save your bacon. If only I’d had one with me when I flooded the campsite at Aberdaron in North Wales in 2015! The video of me struggling with the hose is still on youtube somewhere…. I flooded the site! You have been warned.
The gas system
It is vital to check that all gas hoses have not perished and split and that all connections are tight BEFORE testing any of your appliances. If you are in any doubt about how to do this, get help from a Gas Safe Register gas fitter. Once you are happy, then you can light any appliances and check that the flame is blue. If it’s orange it’s more than likely going to be air getting into the system somewhere. Get the system checked by a Gas Safe Register gas fitter.
Don’t forget to check you’ve enough in the tank when you set off too! No one likes to run out of gas in the middle of a cold spring night. Been there, done that too…
All the usual vehicle checks
Like any vehicle your motorhome will need some TLC if it’s been laid up for winter. That includes checking the tyres carefully for splits and depth of tread and making sure they are at the correct pressure, checking windscreen wipers and squirt, brakes, lights, oil and all the usual. Check the MOT is in date and that your tax is still valid.
The leisure battery
If you haven’t used the vehicle for a while and haven’t had the battery on a solar trickle charger then it’s a good idea to test all your 12V fittings and bulbs. Check its current and, if necessary, replace it if it won’t hold a charge. Actually, it’s a good idea to check all your electricals. Plug in the 240V and check all your appliances are working properly.
It’s never a good idea to get there only to realise that the leisure battery has given up the ghost and there’s not enough power to run the lights. Just ask my family! It’s a good way to be very unpopular!
The carpets, curtains and upholstery
You’ll know if there’s a damp smell in the van! But it’s still a good idea to check the upholstery for damp patches or stains as it may be a sign of a leak or condensation that hasn’t yet started to go mouldy. In campers leaky bits can lead to rust! And that’s bad! If you have blinds check they are all running properly.
Renew all your memberships and passes
Once you are roadworthy you’ll need to park, camp, sightsee and make the most of your time away. So make sure you’ve got up to date camping guides, a copy of the latest Britstop overnight stops book, and that your National Trust and club memberships are up to date.
Finally, the insurance!
It’s easy to forget when your motorhome insurance is due for renewal, especially if you don’t use your motorhome during winter. So it’s a good idea to make sure you are covered, or - if your UK motorhome insurance is up for renewal - get a quote from a specialist insurer who will understand you and your vehicle better than any other run of the mill insurer. Make sure you get unlimited mileage, EU cover if you travel abroad and cover for your personal camping effects too. Check out cover from
All done? Fantastic! May I be the first to wish you a safe journey and lots of fun and laughter on your travels.