The days are getting longer, the sun can be seen more often and it is getting warmer. Now it's time to get your motorhome or caravan out of its winter quarters. Here we have compiled detailed information on how to prepare your recreational vehicle for the start of the season.
The first winter break of your campervan, motorhome or caravan is over and you want to get going again. But what exactly needs to be done to be ready for the start? To help you keep an overview, we explain the individual points of the spring check in detail. Take your time and read through everything thoroughly. And what looks like a long list at the beginning will soon become a familiar routine, thanks to which you can enjoy a wonderful camping season with all the freedoms that go with it. Let´s get started:
Inspection, gas test, maintenance
Check the documents to see whether a general inspection or gas test is due. These are essential so that the vehicle can be moved in road traffic and the safety of the vehicle or caravan on the road and on site at the campsite is guaranteed: The technology is subjected to a thorough check, the overall condition is checked and the gas system is professionally tested.
In addition, check the service booklet to see when the basic vehicle of the campervan or motorhome is due for an maintenance check or when the fluids in the vehicle and wear parts were last changed. It is advisable to make an appointment with a specialist workshop to have the oil or filter changed, the brake fluid changed or the timing belt replaced.
Even if no inspection or gas test appointment is due: if doubts about the safety of the vehicle or the equipment arise during the inspection of the motorhome, an extraordinary appointment is advisable to ensure your safety!
It is best to carry out these points of the checklist before the first journey on site in the winter quarters, so that the transfer of the vehicle from the winter parking place to home can run smoothly.
For campervans and motorhomes, the check starts with the oil level, brake fluid, coolant, windscreen wiper fluid and windscreen wipers. If necessary, top up the respective fluids or - if necessary - arrange a service appointment at an authorised specialist workshop. In the case of caravans, the brake system, anti-rolling clutch, overrun brake, breakaway cable and chassis should be checked for wear and material damage or function and safety.
Starter batteries and any additional batteries in the camper van or motorhome - if they were disconnected or removed during the winter break - must now be reinstalled and connected. The battery voltage must be checked and the battery may have to be charged; of course, this can also be done in advance while the battery is still removed. The same applies to caravan batteries or mover batteries, if present. Afterwards, all connected 12V devices can be briefly tested for function: Interior lighting, sockets, water pump, tap switches in the bathroom and on the kitchen block, refrigerator. Solar system and, in the case of the caravan, the mover, if fitted.
In addition, the safety-relevant exterior lighting must be checked: are the daytime, low beam, high beam and parking lights as well as the fog lights working on motorhomes and, on all recreational vehicles, also the rear lights, brake lights, rear fog lights and hazard warning lights?
Mechanical parts should be checked for function and mobility. If parts are difficult to move or even stuck, they must be greased and made operable by a specialist.
Before the first ride, also check the tyre pressure and increase or decrease it to the value specified by the tyre manufacturers. Check the tyre pressure after a while so that you can be sure that the tyres are not losing air.
Next, check the tread depth, the date of manufacture, the tread and the general condition of the tyres. The tread depth should be at least 4 mm, tyre experts recommend changing the tyres after five years at the latest, and the rubber of the tyres should not show any cracks or be porous. If the recreational vehicle was moved a little every few weeks during the winter break or spent time on stationary cushions, no stationary damage should be expected, but you should still check. Do not forget to check the age and condition of any spare wheel.
Additionally important for the tyres: tighten all wheel nuts with a torque spanner.
Checking the rubber seals
You should take your time for this. Thoroughly check the seals of windows, doors, roof hatches, garage and service flaps as well as ventilation and air extraction systems. Any damage should be repaired. This step should definitely be carried out before the exterior cleaning to avoid possible water ingress due to a damaged seal. Care of the seals is only carried out after the exterior cleaning.
If a leak test is necessary to obtain a possible water ingress warranty, it is recommended to have it done at the start of the season. This way you can tick this box and start the camping season with peace of mind thanks to the professional inspection. You should book the corresponding workshop appointment with your authorised specialist dealer well in advance so that you do not have to wait any longer.
Next on the agenda is exterior cleaning, because even if the vehicle has been thoroughly cleaned before the winter break and has spent the standing time under a covered parking space or indoors, it will be necessary to clean the exterior of dust and dirt.
To do this, caravans, motor homes and campervans can be taken to an official washing area at a petrol station or car wash. Be careful with high-pressure cleaners: unless the pressure can be regulated, they should not be used, as seals, ventilation systems or acrylic windows could otherwise be damaged.
It is best to first check the vehicle all around for damage to the paintwork or other damage and then - if there is no serious damage - rinse it off by hand, lather it with cleaning agents, rinse it off again and polish it if necessary. When doing so, use cleaners that are suitable for the build-up materials. Particular care should be taken with acrylic windows, which should only be treated with a special cleaning agent and microfibre cloths to prevent scratching. The best way to reach the roof of the vehicle is with the help of a sturdy ladder and a telescopic pole. Don't forget to visually inspect, clean and care for the rims, wheel housings and underbody.
Truck washes are not recommended, as they often use aggressive cleaning agents and hard brushes that are unsuitable for recreational vehicles. You can of course take your vehicle to a special caravan and motorhome wash or to a reconditioner who will professionally take care of the cleaning with a hand wash and, if desired, possibly also a sealant.
After cleaning the exterior, it also makes sense to treat the seals on the doors, windows and roof hatches with a special care product.
Interior cleaning is of course just as important, but since it does not involve driving, it can be done after checking the technology and cleaning the exterior. Besides, after the exterior cleaning you have first earned a coffee break at home and then you can continue inside!
The first step: checking for uninvited guests. Look thoroughly - possibly with a torch - into all rooms, cupboards, corners and storage compartments. Look for scratches or other traces. If upholstery or textiles have been in the vehicle over the winter break, you should check all sides to make sure that rodents or other vermin have not set up cosy winter quarters here.
Then it's time to clean the interior carefully: vacuum, wipe out, clean ... Use water sparingly to avoid dampness in the interior and open windows and doors. Avoid aggressive cleaners or hard brushes, to protect furniture surfaces, flooring and wall coverings. Also think about the storage spaces: dust and dirt accumulate in floor compartments, under the benches or in the garage. Allow all storage spaces and cupboards to dry thoroughly with the doors open.
Upholstery and mattresses should be aired out, removable covers and curtains will be glad of a wash.
Are all locks, lock cylinders and hinges working properly? If necessary, spray them with a resin- and acid-free special oil spray. Can all blinds, blackouts, flaps and switches be moved?
Clean the refrigerator, hob and any ovens with food cleaner. Test the appliances in gas mode after checking the gas system. If present, test the functionality of the air conditioning system.
Since the water tanks were ideally emptied before the winter break, the entire water system must be refilled, flushed through with an approved cleaning agent and then properly rinsed with clear water. Does the hot water boiler, if present, function? The fresh water tank should be clean and germ-free. Thoroughly test the entire water circuit for leaks and function. In addition to the general condition check, the seals of the toilet system should be checked: if they have become brittle, they should be replaced. Thorough cleaning is also advisable. After checking the water system, it is advisable to empty the sewage system again to avoid unnecessary weight.
Continue with the gas system: this must be tested for possible defects and function before it is put into operation. To do this, first look at the flexible gas hose. If it looks porous, it must be replaced, even if it is only a small spot.
The pressure reducer must be checked for function. It is recommended that pressure reducers, stopcocks and gas hoses be replaced every 8 to 10 years.
If the gas system passes this first visual inspection, the gas cylinders can be reconnected. After that, the existing gas consumers such as the hob, heating and refrigerator can be put into operation one after the other. It may take a little time for the gas to reach the consumer. At the same time, it is now a good idea to spray the hoses with leak detection spray or soapy water in addition to the visual inspection. In this way, leaks can be detected by the formation of bubbles that were not noticed during the visual inspection. It is also important that all units can be switched off properly.
If your vehicle does not have a gas heater but a diesel heater, run it for a few minutes to test that it is working properly.
Basic equipment, documents, regulations
Finally, it is a good idea to take a look at the basic camping equipment: Extension cables, ramp wedges, adapters, water hose, awning, sun awning ... Is everything present and in perfect condition? Are the fabrics of the awning, awning or sun sail clean and sufficiently impregnated or could they use a new protective coating? Was there anything you needed last year that you didn't have with you? If so, it might make sense to go on a little shopping trip to the nearest camping supplier at the start of the season.
Do you have all the necessary documents such as a protection certificate, passports and insurance card? Are vignettes or a GO-Box required?
It is also advisable to find out about any new regulations for campervans, motorhomes and caravans at home or abroad. Are there new labelling requirements, such as the "blind spot" sticker for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes in France? Or has something changed in the speed limit for the vehicle in question? Otherwise, it can easily happen that the holiday becomes more expensive than expected due to unawareness.
For caravan owners, there is an additional point that should not be neglected: the technically flawless condition of the towing vehicle. The mechanics and electrics of the trailer device should be checked, and any rust or dirt on the ball head of the trailer coupling should be removed. And the same applies to the towing vehicle: check the due date of the general inspection and check the lighting, brakes, fluids and tyres to ensure the safety of the towed vehicle in road traffic.
Do you still have questions about individual points? Are there some things you do not dare to do in the first year? Then contact your Adria dealer, who will be happy to assist you as a service partner!
Everything done? Then it's time to pack your bags and hit the road! Enjoy freedom and adventure, discover the world. Whether it's for a first short camping trip over the weekend or directly for a longer holiday trip: We wish you wonderful journeys with your campervan, motorhome or caravan!