Sammy FairclothSee other Advice articles filed in ‘General motorhome advice’ written by Sammy Faircloth
When starting out in the world of motorhomes, a lot of new knowledge needs to be acquired and occasionally, mistakes are made. However, I like to see these as a useful learning curve. So let's take a look at some of the most common errors.
I have discussed the importance of tyre maintenance before, and this vital area must not be missed. The tyres are your only contact with the road and if they are not in good condition, or serviced regularly, you could end up anywhere but on the road.
Checking the condition of the tyres is often overlooked, so if your 'van has been stationary for a few months, do a visual check of the tyres (and the spare). Are there cracks in the side wall? Any Bubbling? If you find signs of degradation, change the tyres.
How often do you check your tyre pressure? Check it before setting off on any journey, to ensure the vehicle is safe and stable. Tyres must be cold before checking the pressure.
Incorrect tyre pressure could cause a number of problems, affecting the 'van's handling and fuel consumption, reducing the longevity of the tyre and potentially causing a tyre to fail.
Waste and water
Some motorhomes have on-board water/waste tanks. Many people travel with the tanks full, but this can have an influence on the fuel economy and more when driving. If possible, fill water tanks on arriving at your destination and empty waste before you leave.
How meticulous are you when storing a motorhome for the winter? Ensure water/waste tanks have been completely emptied, to avoid frost damage. Water left in tanks for long will also stagnate and start to smell.
When bringing a motorhome out of storage, take the time to give the pipes a good clean. It is a common mistake for people to use Milton sterilising fluid, but this can leave a nasty taste. Use products that are specifically designed for leisure vehicles.
When you are returning from a tour, it is an easy mistake to make to empty the fridge of its contents and just shut the door. However, once the fridge is turned off, it is recommended to leave the door ajar, to prevent the build-up of mildew or mould.
If you forget to do this and need to give the fridge a good clean, avoid using household products on the interior - they can damage the lining.
Dissolve one heaped teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda in a litre of warm water for an effective cleaning solution. Alternatively, try Thetford Bathroom Cleaner.
Most of us like our home comforts when touring, including TV and electronic devices, so we tend to opt for hook-up when selecting a pitch.
If you do use your motorhome to go shopping or visit local attractions, remember to disconnect from the hook-up. I have seen a motorhome drive off, oblivious to the fact that they were trailing the hook-up post behind them. It took a lot of waving to stop them in their tracks!
For those who prefer to go off-grid, regularly check the status of the leisure battery - the last thing you want to do is discharge it completely (voltmeter reading of 12V or under).
Toilet cassettes can often be overlooked after returning from a holiday. There is nothing worse than going on your next trip to find that you have forgotten to empty the toilet cassette! I deep-clean our cassette every couple of months, using products such as Dometic Tank Cleaner. Not only does this tackle the scale, it also freshens it up.
Following a good clean, don't forget to treat the seal with a silicone spray, to prevent the rubber from drying out. This will also help to maintain the smooth operation of the toilet valve blades.
The flush water tank is often neglected and never emptied. This is a particular problem during the winter months because the residual water might freeze, causing damage.
Some toilet systems have a drain-down tube to aid the emptying process. Alternatively, just flush the water through into the toilet cassette until nothing more comes out.
Windows and skylights
A costly mistake to make - and yet I see it happen a lot - is to leave a window or skylight open on leaving a site.
The last thing you want is for your window or skylight to be ripped from the hinges and turned into a projectile missile further down the road.
If you are one of those people who regularly forget about closing the windows and skylights, you might want to consider fitting Smart-Trailer's E-Switch module.
One of its many security functions is a warning system to alert you to an open window, skylight or door, communicating the alert via your smartphone. The modules are wireless and can be fitted to any type of door, window or skylight.
It can be easy to forget how tall or wide your motorhome is. Picture a family trip to a country park, with bikes loaded on the racks at the rear only to find that you can't park up because there is a height barrier.
Always keep a note of the dimensions of your motorhome to hand - you just never know when you might need them when you're out and about.
These are just a few of the common motorcaravanning errors that I have come across on my travels, and there are many more tales of woe out there.
But don't let this put you off touring: use it as a handy reminder and perhaps share what you have learned with other motorhome enthusiasts, so they avoid making the same mistakes.
And always, remember, accidents can happen, even to experienced tourers!