Regular maintenance of caravans can help avoid time-consuming and costly repairs. While basic maintenance checks of tyres, brakes and lights should be carried out at least monthly, there are some thorough maintenance inspections that should be undertaken every six months or so. These checks include:
Checking the chassis for cracks.
This involves you very carefully and systematically inspecting the chassis rails, as the cracks may not be apparent to a casual observer. One sign of potential chassis problems is if the van appears to sag in one corner. If you suspect chassis cracking, you should avoid towing the caravan until you have sought expert advice and assistance.
Check the suspension.
There are several types of suspension systems used on vans – leaf springs, coil, and, in some cases, air springs. Of these leaf springs are more liable to break. If they do the van will sag in the corner of the broken spring. Coil springs will usually only break when subjected to extreme use such as hitting bumps at high speeds or overloading. In either case, expert help will be required to fix the problem.
Wheel bearings are subject to wear and tear and should be checked.
There is only one reliable way to do this – jack the wheel up off the ground and move it around to determine if there is any play. If there is, there is likely to be some wear in the wheel bearing.
The spare tyre mount should also be checked for damage or cracking.
A thorough inspection of the van exterior can identify any potential water leaks. Look for obvious signs of a cracked sealer around J mounts and also looked for lifting silastic and discolouration underneath the silastic – a sure sign of water penetration. Be sure to inspect the roof for any damage and roof ventilation hatches are still sealed properly.
If your van has a water hand pump at the sink, it is possible that the seals can harden over time. If your hand pump is not drawing much water this will be the reason. Fixing this is relatively simple – you can either purchase a seal kit or a whole new pump for fairly little expense.
Getting into the habit of regularly inspecting your van for these problems will help you to prolong its life and hopefully identify small problems before they become large ones.