Get your motorhome ready for winter

Make sure your motorhome is protected from the ravages of winter. Find out how best to get your vehicle ready for the cold months.

Make sure your motorhome is protected from the ravages of winter. Find out how best to get your vehicle ready for the cold months.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
5
minute read
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Posted 5 JANUARY 2021

Clean and polish

Exterior
Thoroughly clean the outside of your motorhome, not forgetting the roof – bird droppings can be bad news for paintwork. Then give it a couple of coats of wax sealant. As you clean, make a mental note of any chips in the paintwork or other damage and add them to your repairs list.

Underneath
Wheel arches can collect mud so you’ll want to clean in those spots. If you’ve had some runs late in the year when the salt spreaders have been out, get rid of any residue. The aim is to avoid corrosion.

Inside the vehicle
Clean everything and vacuum your motorhome as if the Queen was coming to visit - you definitely don’t want to leave any crumbs that can attract pests or insects.

Empty the cupboards, taking out food and any plastic containers that might crack in the cold and leak sticky or staining contents.

Clean the cooker and empty and clean the fridge, making sure it’s completely dry. Leave the fridge door slightly open as this will help keep it smelling fresh.

Repair

As you’ve worked your way round the outside and inside of your motorhome, you may have spotted a whole bunch of repairs that need doing. Treat and fill any chips or scratches to paintwork or chromework.

Ceiling vents can get tiny cracks that may let damp in, so those need to be sealed and sorted. Door and window seals need to be checked and repaired where necessary.

Carefully and safely check your vehicle’s electrics and connectors for signs of wear or damage. Wipe the electrical contacts over and spray with WD-40 to protect against water damage.

Drain your water system

Make sure your van is standing on level ground to help water drain easily.

Drain water heaters, leaving open any valves or taps. Just like in your home or your car radiator, if the water freezes it can do costly damage to the heater and whatever it touches when it thaws.

Empty and drain the cassette toilet flush as you would do normally after every trip. Make sure you empty out the flush tank, too. Check the handbook or website of the loo manufacturer to see if you need to do anything else, like spray any valves with silicone spray.

Drain your fresh water system – make sure you open all the taps and don’t forget to drain down your showerhead. Turn your water pump off and, if you haven’t already done it, it can be a good time to insulate your water pump. Water filters can freeze, so remove and replace them with new filters in the spring.

Get your motorhome ready for storage

Sort out where you’re going to overwinter your motorhome. You may be lucky enough to have room to store it where you live. If not, you’ll need to find somewhere secure to leave it. Ideally, you want flat ground.

Your best option may be to pay for storage in a specialist secured site. Check that they’re happy to accept your type and size of vehicle, that the site is open at times that suit you, and that your vehicle will be properly secure and insured.

Most storage sites provided by the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA) do accept motorhomes and most insurers recognise these as secure storage locations.

When getting an insurance quote, you’d need to declare that the motorhome is kept in storage. If you decide to take it to a storage site mid-way through the term of your policy, you must inform your insurance provider.

Damp can affect your upholstery and soft furnishings – so store them indoors if possible. If not, you may want to cover them with a cotton sheet to protect them and put some moisture-absorbing crystals nearby to help prevent mould and damp.

Turn off the gas and disconnect and remove bottles if possible, keeping them somewhere safe and secure. If you’re putting your vehicle into storage, you’ll need to check the site’s policy.

Remove batteries - if you don’t need your leisure battery to run your motorhome alarm system, ideally you should remove it and store it in a cool, dry place. If you keep it at home you can top it up when necessary. Take out the batteries from other electrical items in your motorhome, too.

Check your tyres – some experts recommend you increase the pressure in your tyres before you park to overwinter and that you cover your tyres, but first check what your vehicle handbook recommends.

Find the right parking spot – it makes sense to park on firm ground. But if you have to park somewhere where the ground’s soft, then you may want to use paving or boards under the wheels to be sure you can drive off when you need to. You may want to use wheel clamps once you’ve parked up.

If you’ve got an awning, make sure this is clean and dry.

A breathable, protective motorhome winter cover can shelter your nice, clean bodywork from bird droppings, fallen leaves and help to prevent mould.

Before parking your vehicle up, take it for a drive. This can help remove the last of the water in the system as you carefully corner. It will also top up the battery.

Looking after your motorhome over winter

Check your vehicle regularly if you can. If possible, give it a run out from time to time. This will help air the vehicle out, charge up the battery and stop everything from seizing up. Even if you don’t take it out, move your motorhome - if only a few inches - so that it doesn’t spend the entire winter resting on the same spot on your tyres.

Remember, if you intend to use your motorhome at all you won’t be able to declare that it’s off road with a Statutory Off Road Notification SORN and you’ll need to be insured.

Using your van over winter

If you’re the hardy sort and plan on using your motorhome all through the year, you’ll need to consider what the best motorhome for winter use is, when you decide which vehicle to buy.

Look for things like good insulation, both in the vehicle to keep you toasty, but also in the compartments around your water tanks and waste systems. Specialised windows can help with insulation.

Some modern motorhomes have water pipes with built-in heating systems that keep the water flowing. You might also need to add small space heaters, although these can drain the battery. Make sure you choose heaters that turn off instantly if knocked over. Avoid gas heaters due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

But no matter how well you look after your vehicle, you don’t want a winter trip ruined, so it may be worth considering breakdown cover.

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