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For many campervan enthusiasts, the arrival of spring brings with it the opportunity to get the campervan back onto the road with most of the bad weather now out of the way.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from campervanning in the winter, but there’s no doubt it brings extra risk and complications.
Plus, often the weather is just so miserable, it’s just not inspiring to go on a road trip where you could potentially have to spend more time inside the campervan than you’d really want to.
If you and your campervan have been hibernating, it’s important that you don’t just assume that your vehicle will be as you left it and in a fit state to drive.
You’re going to have to spend some time preparing your campervan again for the travails of the open road.
But what exactly do you need to do to get your campervan ready for spring? Well that’s what we’re here to tell you…
Get your documents in order
Before you tend to your campervan, make sure you’ve got all your documents in order including campervan insurance, MOT certificate and driving licence.
Give it a spring clean
Spring is the perfect time to give your campervan a deep clean, especially if it’s been sat dormant for a number of months over the winter.
With a bit of luck, you would’ve had the presence of mind to give your van a good clean before you put it away for the winter… but if you didn’t, not to worry – just be prepared to put in a bit of elbow grease!
Start with the interior:
- Empty the van and vacuum. Take out as many non-fixed items as you can – any pots and pans, bedding etc – which will give you the space you need to vacuum thoroughly throughout, including those little corners which collect dirt and crumbs.
- Tackle the dust. Take a duster (or two) to all the surfaces and cupboards, then once they’re clear of most of the dust, wipe them down with a wet cloth. Don’t overlook the window sills, as a lot of dust can build up here.
- Clean the windows. Using a dedicated window product, clean the windows from the inside. Lots of fingerprints can build up as you and your travelling partners point at the wonders witnessed along the way.
- Give the mattress some air. Take your van’s mattress outside to give it some air – 30 minutes should do it – and then when you replace it, flip into onto the other side.
As you go about cleaning your van’s interior, take time to check that everything is still in good order.
Does the kettle still work? Do all the cupboards close well? Is the table still secure? The last thing you want is something rattling as you go on your travels!
Moving on to the exterior:
- Close all windows and the roof. You don’t want any water to get in as you go about hosing down your vehicle.
- Use a pressure washer. Before sponging down your campervan, taking a pressure washer to your van’s bodywork will get rid of most of the surface dirt and grime.
- Get the sponge out. Now you can start refining the clean. Clean everywhere with a sponge and a suitable cleaning liquid – don’t forget the wheels and mirrors.
- Hose off the soap. Having loosened all the dirt with the sponge, hose everything off. She should be looking back to her best at this point.
- Get the ladder out. Although nobody really sees it – other than truck drivers – it’s important you clean your van’s roof. For this, you will need a long-handled brush and a ladder. Apply a cleaning solution to the brush head, then, with somebody footing the bottom of your ladder, give the roof a good hard scrub, removing all that bird mess and everything else that you’ve picked up on your travels. Once you’ve cleaned the surface of the roof, take a bucket of hot water and pour across the top to remove the soap suds plus all the lifted dirt.
- Finish with a polish. For a final touch and to add a layer of protection to your van, apply some polish or finishing wax to the bodywork. By the time you’re done, your van will look as good as new. Did you know a good polish can remove scratches in your van’s paintwork? It’s well worth taking the extra time to give it a good buffer.
Carry out some maintenance checks
Before you get your van back onto the road, it’s crucial to check that it’s road-worthy, especially if it’s been sat dormant through the winter months.
The last thing anybody wants is to break down or be involved in an accident due a maintenance issue that would’ve been picked up had you carried out the sufficient checks.
You don’t need to be an expert to carry out maintenance checks on your van; you just need to know what to go looking for.
It’s fairly basic stuff – here are the things to check on your van before you hit the road in spring:
It’s fair to assume that you’re going to do a fair few miles in your campervan, so some wear and tear on the tyres is inevitable.
While campervan tyres are usually more hard-wearing than standard car tyres, you still need to carry out regular checks on them to ensure they’re within the legal limits.
The legal tyre tread depth for all vehicles in the UK and Europe is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre, according to law.
The tread must meet this minimum requirement across its complete circumference.
However, you shouldn’t want until your van’s tyres are pushing the legal limit – most safety experts recommend a minimum tread depth of 3mm for tyre replacement.
Worn tyres pose a danger to both you and other road users.
It’s particularly hazardous to have worn tyres when driving in the wet because a tyre’s tread helps disperse water away from the contact patch between tyre and road.
In other words, there’s less friction between your vehicle and the road when the tyres are worn.
When performing your tyre checks, keep an eye out for nails, cuts, or odd bulges in your tyres. To check the tread depth, use the RAC’s 20p test.
It’s recommended that you check your van’s oil levels every couple of weeks.
However, if you’ve not been using your campervan during the winter, months might have passed since you last checked the dipstick.
Top up accordingly – if it’s particularly low or you’re needing to top up too frequently, you might want to consider popping along to your local garage to get their thoughts as there might be something amiss.
It goes without saying really, but ensure you’re using the right oil for your vehicle. If you’re unsure, consult a garage who should be able to point you in the right direction.
Alternatively, put your van’s registration plate into http://www.whatoildoineed.com/,
Make sure the coolant is in between the minimum and maximum levels, topping it up where necessary.
Safety warning: you should check the coolant when the engine is cold!
Wipers and screen wash
Again, if your vehicle has been out of action for a while, there’s a decent chance that your van’s windscreen wipers will have dried out, and the last thing you need is a smeary windscreen as you’re trying to safely navigate unfamiliar roads.
If the rubber on your wiper blades has hardened, try the following trick to revive them:
- Put a small amount of vinegar on a cloth and go up and down the entire length of both of the rubber wiper blades.
- With a wet cloth, wipe along the rubber of the blades to remove any excess vinegar. Then dry the blades with a dry cloth.
- Dip a cloth into petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and wipe it along the entire length of the rubber of each of the blades. Let the Vaseline air dry for at least 10 minutes.
If that doesn’t do the trick, you might need to replace the blades entirely.
While you’re treating your wiper blades, top up your screen wash, and consider taking a spare bottle of fluid with you in case you run out mid-journey.
To stop ice formation (you never know, this is the UK after all!) in your window-washer unit tank, hoses and nozzles, add a good quality window wash antifreeze concentrate and increase the concentration in especially cold weather.
It goes without saying that your lights are hugely important all year round, so you need to check that you are lighting up the road as much as you should be.
A lot of the new vans will alert you on the dashboard if you have a bulb out somewhere.
But it’s still a good idea to physically check your van over to ensure all the lights are in working order – nothing beats a visual check.
Check for any bulbs that might have blown or any cracked or dirty lenses. And don’t forget the fog lights too, even if the fog should have (hopefully) disappeared by spring.
What should you bring with you on your travels?
Once you’ve performed all your vehicle checks and sorted any niggling maintenance issues, turn your attention to ensuring you have everything you need for comfortable and safe travel.
This isn’t a conclusive list by any means, but these are what we would deem essential when packing for a trip away in the spring:
If your campervan doesn’t have built-in heating, you should bring a heater with you. Even in the spring, the temperature can plummet during the night.
A heater will take the chill off and ensure that everybody is sleeping soundly.
You have a number of options when it comes to buying a heater.
A fan heater is a solid option bet if you need a quick burst of heat during the night, but bear in mind they can be noisy while in operation.
So, if you or somebody struggles to sleep with too much noise around them, this could be a bit of a problem.
The alternative is a small oil-filled heater, which can be used to tick over silently during the night, keeping the van at a consistent temperature. You can pick one up for as little as £30.
You might find that your winter sleeping bag is too hot now in the spring. Find yourself a sleeping bag that is more suitable for the midler conditions.
This three-season, spring-to-autumn bag would be ideal. It has an inner quilt which can be removed easily for a cooler night, while the rectangular hood is a good fit for a camping pillow.
However, it’s not cheap, so if your budget is tight, it might be worth scouring the market for something more affordable.
If you’re going away during the early part of the spring season between March and April it’s worth noting that the average temperature in the UK is around 11-13°. So, not all that warm!
Ensure you pack clothes that will keep any chill at bay.
You don’t always need to bundle up in heavy coats or jumpers, a couple of warm layers beneath a good waterproof and windproof jacket will work wonders!
It also means you can strip off once the weather warms up.
Extreme weather kit
In the early part of spring, there’s still a chance of some extreme weather.
As per the Met Office, based on records from 1981 to 2010, the UK average is for 2.3 days of snow in April, which is more than the 1.7 days for an average November.
So pack an extreme weather kit consisting of windscreen de-icer spray, high visibility vest, hand warmers, LED torch and a snow shovel, just in case we should get a sprinkling of snow.
Protect yourself with campervan insurance
Once you’ve readied your van for spring, don’t forget to arrange that all-important piece of the puzzle: campervan insurance.
Getting the right kind of coverage means you can get on with all your travel adventures knowing you're protected.
We can provide a range of quotes on specialist campervan insurance that could provide the following possible benefits:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year which can include foreign use
- Cover for your Campervan whilst you are converting it
- Enhanced cover for personal effects
- Discounts if you’re a member of a club
- Panel of leading Campervan insurers
- Unlimited EU cover
- Up to £3,500 of cover for your camping personal effects
- Up to six months cover to complete a self-build conversion
- Value up to £150,000
Get a quote from Motorhome Protect today so you can hit the road whatever the weather.