Now that we have been travelling full-time for the last 11months, we have settled into a routine of practical maintenance type jobs that have kept us in good stead and moving freely without too much hassle. There is very little distinction between those of us who travel full-time, those who only holiday or even only use the caravan or camper on weekends when it comes to maintenance.
Safety, both on the road and in the parks is paramount. It really doesn’t detract very much at all from our goals no matter what they are, so I have put together a practical list of items that we check apart of course from the scheduled servicing for your tow vehicle and caravan. It is most important that you understand that these checks we carry out should not replace the service schedules but are just our way of ensuring we have, as much as possible, an uninterrupted and pleasant experience of full-time life on the road.
I ensure that our Ford Ranger is serviced every 10,000kms through a qualified service provider and also that the transmission gets a more regular oil and filter change along with an oil test every 40K to check for metals.
Each week I check the following;
Tyre pressures – We are regularly airing down & up again for rough tracks or beaches so it is important to check tyre pressures before we tow long distances
Tyre condition – You don’t need to be an expert! If they look worn or damaged they probably are! Get them checked.
Windscreen washer level
Clean Windscreen and rear vision mirrors – The wife gets angry if she can’t take a good photo because of a dirty windscreen!!!
Air Cleaner Filter – This particularly needs a quick blowout if you have been doing a lot of outback or dusty roads.
Check the tow ball has a wipe of grease on it.
Check the pin holding the tow ball tongue is in good nick.
I also check the electrical plug for the van is clean and no burn marks are indicated in the sockets.
We have an Ian Grant's Essential Caravan. Read more about our Caravan here. It should be noted that because we travel in a lot of remote areas, it is a long stretch between services for the van at an authorized provider. So in the absence of a trusting provider, I choose to do most of it myself and keep a good eye on the running gear of the van. The following items are what we regularly check and part 2 are pre tow checks.
Tyre pressures – These are checked when the Tow vehicle is done.
Stabiliser legs are checked at every set-up.
Tow Hitch – ensure that the ball hitch is correctly adjusted and the adjustment nut is tight (Generally if the ball is loose in the hitch it will knock when you accelerate or brake quickly) This is not a complicated adjustment but you should have someone who is qualified show you before you attempt it the first time. Note once this is done it will rarely need adjustment.
We do not use other type hitches, so if you have others check with your dealer as to the maintenance required
Check the security of the gas bottles and that the gas connections are tight.
I regularly activate the hot water pressure relief valve to ensure it is clean and not dripping. Note if it does drip it may not be damaged, dripping with town water pressure connected may mean the Pressure Reducing Valve at the water connection is faulty but if the Hot Water Pressure Relief is faulty it will more likely drip when the pump is being used as this will be a lower pressure.
Check the non-return pressure reducing valve at the external water connection is not dripping after you disconnect the water, it may also leak when town water is disconnected and the onboard pump is on. If it is it may need to be dismantled and cleaned and put back together. Again not a big job guy’s.
Check the pull out step is smooth to operate, these get a lot of dust and road grit on them so a squirt of lube on the hinge pins will fix it quick smart.
Check the top of the A/C is clear of leaves etc
Check and clean the awning
Clean the A/C filters about once a fortnight and check the top is clear of leaves etc.
Check your taps for security.
Check your latches and hinges on your drawers and cupboards. A wipe of Vasoline works wonders.
We also clean our fly screens with the Dyson accessories about fortnightly.
Pull apart the toilet cassette once every few months and clean the float and re-grease the slide with Vaseline. We flush out the cassette with double strength Vinegar and Bi-Carb Soda each time we empty it.
After hook up
Before we tow we always check as follows;
Coupling down over the tow ball correctly and locking clip is in place
Safety Chains are secured.
The trailer breakaway unit is secured to the tow vehicles body ( NOT to the tow ball tongue )
Electrics are fitted and tested. Lights, Breaks and power into the van. Note that you should check occasionally that the pins in the 12 pin socket are tight and if need be put a small screwdriver blade into the end of the pin and widen the pin so it makes good contact, this will avoid a hot joint.
Check the gas is off and bottles are secure.
Check all stabilizer legs are up and secure.
Check all hatches are down and windows secure.
We ensure that our blinds are fully open when we travel.
Nothing is left on benchtops.
Internal doors are closed and clipped.
The showerhead is secured and all cupboards are closed.
Check your towing mirrors are fitted and clean, cameras are working if you use them. We have a Safety Dave rear vision travel camera and we love it.
Our last item as we move off is to check the van brakes are adjusted correctly at the controller and dialled in properly. Once again there is some controversy regarding this but for me, I like the van to brake the tow vehicle slightly but without any skid. This is more comfortable for me and something that I have been used to doing with semi-trailer braking. You may wish to adjust differently to suit your own style of braking just as long as you do check the braking system is working.
I know this list of things may not be completely exhaustive but these are all checks that have been part of our routine for many years, they don’t take long at all and will just become second nature after a while. They have served us well to travel safely, economically and without too much stress. It will help identify some things before they become issues and we hope that you can take some benefit from our experiences and you can enjoy your travels and adventures as much as we do.
If you need some further explanation or just need a chat about an issue then please feel free to DM me via our contact details shown on the website. If I can’t help you then I would be sure I can connect you with those more experienced than myself, who can assist you further. Please don’t be shy as your safety, peace of mind & confidence is everything when you tow and travel and we should all be here to help one and another.
So until we meet out on the road somewhere stay safe, look after your families and enjoy what our great land has to offer.