Your caravan technical questions - answered
If your caravan has developed an annoying problem that you're struggling to resolve, worry not - help is hand. There isn't much that DIY expert Lee Davey doesn't know about caravans, making him the perfect person to consult about technical issues, maintenance and much more.
Here, Lee answers a selection of the questions you got in touch to ask him - including problems with a caravan cassette toilet, malfunctioning fridge and a worrying creaking noise coming from the hitch...
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Your caravan questions
Caravan warranty worries
I have a question – our caravan is due a service in August. Hopefully, everything will be back to normal then but, if it's not, are there any guidelines out there? We have a four-year-old Bailey and need it serviced by an approved dealership to keep the warranty valid. Will it be like a car MOT, something that can be deferred for a few months at all?
Fingers crossed, I hope the dealer network and service centres will gradually return to normal towards the latter part of the year, but should things remain unsettled, Bailey (along with some other manufacturers) is extending the due date of 2020 annual vehicle services by an additional four months.
Details can be found at www.baileyofbristol.co.uk (main picture courtesy of Bailey of Bristol)
Caravan window replacements
I'm desperately searching for a replacement front centre window for my caravan. I've searched numerous websites, all in vain. I did manage to get a price on having one made, which was over £600, but wouldn't have matched mine – just wondered if you could help at all?
Caravan windows are notoriously expensive and it’s often difficult to find a reasonably priced replacement. Depending which brand of caravan you own, your local dealer can source parts, or, if it’s a Bailey caravan, Prima Leisure (www.primaleisure.com) can supply parts with generous discounts. If this proves too expensive, I would normally recommend having a unit made by a specialist company, but it sounds as though you’ve already taken the steps suggested. Another option would be a second-hand unit. These can be found but it is often a waiting game and can prove to be a lengthy process.
Caravan cassette toilet issues
I have a problem with my Thetford cassette in that when I empty the cassette, it leaks from the pressure release valve. Would you be kind enough to advise me if this is replaceable or removeable for cleaning and, if so, what do I clean it with?
If the valve that sits below the yellow relief valve button isn’t clogged with loo roll, it may be worth buying a new vent button assembly. Prise the yellow button away from the cassette body, remove the spring that sits underneath the button and open the blade to retrieve the valve which will have fallen inside. Reassembly is the reverse of this procedure, with the valve, held against the underside of the hole, spring placed on top and the yellow button clicked into place. It’s worth investing in a set of disposable gloves!
Creaking caravan noise
I have a Winterhoff hitch on my caravan and, when driving or turning, I get a creaking noise. Have I got wrong towball? Or is this something simple that I have overlooked? It’s quite alarming hearing it when I’m towing it along!
Winterhoff and Al-Ko stabiliser hitches can often squeak, with the likely cause being contaminated pads within the hitch head. Assuming your towball is a standard 50mm unit, the next step will be to clean the pads. Various YouTube guides will show you how to remove the pads and then simply rub the pads with sandpaper (200-400 grit) and, ideally, clean afterwards with an aerosol brake cleaner. It’s also a good idea to clean your towball using the same method, removing any paint or rust on the ball itself. If the pads continue to squeak, replacements may be required.
Finding the perfect match
We’ve got a VW Passat 2.0 estate and we're looking to get ourselves a caravan. I, of course, need to a) work out what caravans I can tow and b) get a towbar fitted. This is all new to me so I have no idea where to start, if I’m honest. Any ideas?
Matching a caravan to your car can seem a daunting task, but visiting www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/caravans/towmatch/ makes the process much easier. Simply input the make and model of your car and select the year and specification from the list. Select the desired caravan manufacturer and the number of berths required and you’ll receive a list of ‘matched’ caravans.
The National Trailer and Towing Association (www.ntta.co.uk) is a great place to start when contemplating towbar fitment. They are a not-for-profit organisation, as well as being the main body in the UK for the light towing industry. To receive a quote from the five closest NTTA members, simply fill in a form on the NTTA website.
Caravan fridge problems
I have been having problems with the fridge in my caravan. It won’t switch onto mains after having been stood parked up for a while. Once it starts up on site, with everything else on it is fine. I contacted Thetford and they said it is to do with the circuit boards receiving too much power and it effects the fridge workings? I have got it working on gas and then I try to reverting back to electric. They say it may be worth turning on some lights before trying to start as it is OK on site with the water heater and other electrics on. Could it be extra power input from my solar panel? Have you ever experienced this before? Am I overlooking something simple?
I haven’t experienced this particular problem before, but it’s worth retracing your steps back to square one. Check that the caravan is level (as fridges can be temperamental if the caravan isn’t levelled properly) and that the power source selected is 240v, not 12v or ‘battery’. Is the fridge light on and is there warm air coming from the external air vents directly behind the fridge? If not, check the fuses and RCD board. If no problems have been found, the fault could indeed lie with your fridge’s element or circuit board. Due to it being 240V, I’d recommend a professional to take a closer look, you can find one on www.approvedworkshops.co.uk
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