Diamond Dave

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When taking your motorhome out of storage for the new season, follow our tech guru Diamond Dave's advice, to ensure your holidays are safe and trouble free

Although more people are using their motorhomes all year round than ever before, there are still plenty who keep theirs dormant over the winter.

That’s fine, but once you've carefully put your motorhome away, the important thing is how to bring your ’van out of hibernation.

I’m sure there are people who just drive to the local fuel station, fill the tank and head off for two weeks in the sun. But this isn’t really a good idea.

Instead, you need to make several essential checks to ensure trouble-free touring. Here is a list of jobs that are worth attending to before you head off for the first time this season.

Let's get started!

If you are about to dust down your motorhome for a summer of touring, the first thing to check is the condition and pressures of your tyres.

Standing in one spot for several months can be detrimental to tyres, especially if they are directly exposed to sunlight. If you are in any doubt about the condition of a tyre, get it replaced – after all, a blowout at motorway speeds can be, at best, quite scary.

You should have run the engine up to normal temperature at least once every couple of weeks during the lay-up period. It is even better to give the ’van a half-hour drive once a fortnight.

Changing the oil and filter

It would now be a good idea to change the oil and filter. You could do it yourself or visit a garage, but I would strongly recommend it either way.

That’s because, once engine oil is used, it becomes contaminated with combustion by-products, including nasty corrosive chemicals. So spending £50 on an oil and filter change is cheap compared to premature engine failure!

While you’re under the bonnet, take a look at the condition of the air filter – a dirty one can impair the performance of your engine.

You should also check all fluid levels: brake, washer, coolant and so on. Don’t forget to look over the drive belts for condition and tension. Finally, ensure that all your road lights are functioning correctly.

When you first move your motorhome, drive slowly and apply the brakes several times. First to make ensure that they are working and second to clear surface rust from the disc faces.

Many of the above points should be checked weekly anyway, but it is good practice to run through them before using the motorhome after a prolonged lay-up.

Be prepared!

Many motorhome owners carry a toolbox and I am no exception. In fact, when I first began motorcaravanning, I used to carry a comprehensive toolkit that covered my needs for almost any eventuality.

Being a trained mechanic, I was under the false impression that I didn’t need a recovery service. That changed with our first motorhome, a 1979 Bedford CF. I attained enlightenment about the benefits of RAC/AA/Green Flag and so forth with a bang, quite literally, at the end of a 10-day holiday.

We had pulled away from our pitch and had travelled all of 10ft when we heard a loud crack from under the 'van accompanied by total loss of drive. This told me we had a problem!

To cut a long story short, the gearbox’s main shaft had snapped, something to which CFs with old Vauxhall ’boxes were prone. It doesn’t matter how good a mechanic you are or how many tools you have, a broken gearbox is difficult to deal with.

We were grateful that a good friend took my wife, kids and dog home, while another friend located and brought me a replacement gearbox. The site manager towed me into an unused area where I stayed for a couple of nights, while the replacement was located, delivered and fitted.

So, what do I carry now? Well, I have a small plastic box on board with basic tools to handle small jobs. My kit has a few spanners, including adjustables, a couple of screwdrivers, a multimeter, a 12V soldering iron, solder, insulating tape, a tape measure, mole grips, pliers, a craft knife, assorted Allen keys and spare fuses. The other item I always carry around now is my breakdown membership card!

Then, all that's left to do is to plan where you're going, then hit the road – happy holidays!

A keen motorcaravanner, Practical Motorhome's technical expert Diamond Dave runs his own leisure vehicle workshop. Find out more at Dave Newell Leisure Vehicle Services.
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