Guide to caravan servicing

11th January 2015


In our latest caravan advice video we explain why it is essential to have your touring caravan serviced annually by a member of theApproved Workshop Scheme, as part of your regular caravan maintenance schedule.

Transcript to the guide to caravan servicing video

Hello, I’m Stuart from Shield Total insurance. We’re here at SH Caravans near Colchester, to talk about caravan servicing. Servicing your caravan is really important, especially if you’ve left your caravan unused for a long period of time. All the moving parts of a caravan – the chassis, the brakes, they need to be checked regularly, as do the gas systems and electrical systems on a caravan.

At Shield, we suggest that you opt for an annual caravan service from an Approved Workshop. There are over 300 of these in the UK. The Approved Workshop Scheme was formed in 1998, when the National Caravan Council got together with the Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club to regulate the workshop industry and to set the standard. So let’s go and take a look!

SH Caravans is a workshop where we do anything that basically is towed along the road behind a car, or is driven (i.e. a motorhome). We also have a static caravan division as well, which goes out to various sites throughout country and, indeed, Europe.

We’re fully approved by the National Caravan Council, Camping and Caravanning Club and the Caravan Club.

Every year, workshops such as us have to be inspected to make sure we are using the correct tools, all our tools are calibrated correctly and that all our staff have got all the necessary qualifications required.

In order to be an Approved Workshop, you’ve got to make sure all your technicians are fully trained and meet all the required qualifications specified by the industry code of practice.

We would go to the manufacturers’ training centres and they would train us in the ways that their particular appliances work and also the fault-finding process in the particular appliances. With regards to the main body of the caravan, we have to undertake a City and Guilds test, which states that we have carried out a service to the correct level and once we’ve carried that service out under an examination process, we would then get a pass certificate for that, which says that we are competent.

We have checklists throughout the whole process that we have to follow and each part of the vehicle wouldn’t get signed off until that’s adhered to.

Whatever exists in a caravan is checked. Electrics, water, gas, the running gear, tyres, brakes, road lights, windows, blinds, the list goes on. If it’s in the caravan, it is checked. It is on the check list, it gets checked and if there is a fault it gets marked down. If there is a small fault it will get rectified. If it is a large fault the customer gets notified and then obviously the customer then tells us whether he wishes us to proceed.

On a gas test, we have to check for soundness. That means we have to check there’s no leaks in the system. Because the vehicle is moving around some of the joints can become loose and you can get a leak. We then check each appliance is working correctly, as it should do, in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended procedures, so that obviously we make sure there’s no unburnt gases getting into the vehicle. We make sure all the flues are intact and working correctly and that there is no danger in this part of the caravan that the gas involves.

Annual service more or less checks over the whole vehicle. You’ve got the fire and safety and then a full damp check throughout the vehicle also.

We use a high-quality moisture tester, which is far in excess of any quality of a DIY product you could buy from the local shop. They’re designed to get the most moisture content from bare wood or from bare plaster so our meters are both inductive, which means that there’s no holes created, unless we find a high reading of moisture content; in which case we then swap over to the probes, which are a fine-piercing probe which will go through the vinyl surface into the structure of the caravan and that will give us a percentage of moisture in the wood.

With the running gear obviously you’re making sure that the brakes are working correctly. That’s not just the wheels and the brake shoes, but also the overrun assembly, which is the piece at the front, here, of the caravan. That has to go in and out in accordance, obviously, as you’re slowing down, the caravan will catch the car up, it will apply the brakes on the caravan and it will pull the caravan and car back apart again.

If that is not working correctly or if the damper mechanism is faulty within that, then you’ll get a jerking at the back of the car, which will give you, obviously, a force on the back of the car, which you don’t want. But also if they’re not working at all then it means to say the caravan is not doing any braking. So, therefore, as you apply the brakes with your car, the caravan is trying to push the car forward even further and therefore you’re trying to brake three, maybe three and a half, tonnes, on the standard car brakes, which they’re not intended to do.

At Shield Total Insurance, we offer you insurance on the basis that your caravan is in a sound and road worthy condition. If it is not and you suffer a direct loss as a result, then that could impact on your claim.

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