There are some early season issues that we regularly see at the workshop – and then some that are a bit more uncommon. We recently saw a very unusual fault on a ’van – a snapped shock absorber on an Al-Ko chassis. When I say snapped, I really do mean snapped: the piston rod had bent until it snapped in two. On removing it, I discovered there was a small dent in the main body case, close to the top.

I’m guessing this jammed the piston inside, then when the suspension compressed again, because the piston couldn’t move, the rod bent until it could simply bend no more.

The customer did say they had driven across some very rough terrain, and they believed a rock or something hard and heavy had been thrown up and hit the shock absorber body.

Common early season issues

Other than that, and general servicing and fitting of air suspension, solar and other ancillary kit, we’ve had the usual early-season glut of dead leisure batteries, failing or leaking water pumps and fridges that don’t cool on gas.

Even the best campervan leisure battery can face issues if it’s not maintained – by that, I mean people putting their ’van into storage and then forgetting about it for a couple of months.

What they should do, though, is make sure that everything is switched off, including the main distribution unit if possible (Sargent units have a master shutdown, for example), because that can often have a small current draw.

If you don’t have solar, or the ’van is parked in a shaded area, either visit weekly and give it a run-out, or remove the leisure battery/batteries and keep them in a place where you can apply a maintenance charge periodically.

Giving the vehicle a weekly run-out of about 20 miles or so is the preferable option, because this will also help keep the engine, transmission and brakes in good order.

Water pumps and fridges

Leaky water pumps are usually caused by freezing, owing to not draining the system thoroughly; sub-zero temperatures can damage the pump. Our guide to motorhome water systems fills you in on the other various problems that can occur here.

A fridge not cooling on gas is almost always down to lack of servicing. A three-way fridge used regularly on gas should be serviced at least annually, more frequently if used extensively.

The gas jet is a tiny orifice that can easily block, and the air holes can be obstructed. This causes the flame to burn rich, giving off high levels of carbon in the form of soot, as well as potentially lethal carbon monoxide.

The soot collects on the inside wall of the flue and acts as a thermal barrier, so the heat energy isn’t absorbed into the cooling unit and the fridge doesn’t cool. One I recently serviced was very bad – an eggcupful of soot came out of the flue!

Take a look at our guide to motorhome maintenance to find the various repairs and tasks you can carry out throughout the year to keep your ‘van in tip-top condition. Don’t miss our guide to tackling motorhome faults either.

Future Publishing Limited, the publisher of Practical Motorhome, provides the information in this article in good faith and makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Individuals carrying out the instructions do so at their own risk and must exercise their independent judgement in determining the appropriateness of the advice to their circumstances and skill level. References to specific products are for illustration only and not intended as recommendation. To the fullest extent permitted by law, neither Future nor its employees or agents shall have any liability in connection with the use of this information. Double check any warranty is not affected before proceeding.

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