09/10/2018
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Caravan servicing essentials

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There are dates that we all have to remember: anniversaries, birthdays, the dog's booster jabs... and arranging our caravan's annual service.

Unlike a wedding anniversary, the service date has a six-week leeway, so, when you do remember that you forgot it (still with me?), it's not the end of the world!

Here's some top tips from the experts about what the service involves and what to look out for.

wayne an AWS technician arrives

When your caravan service does becomes due, it means towing the caravan to your dealer, leaving it with them and returning for it the following day or weekend. Alternatively, you could have an approved, mobile technician come to you and carry out the service on your pitch or driveway. It's the same comprehensive service, just without all the effort on your part! Which is what we decided to do.

Bailey-approved mobile technician, Wayne Christiansen, from Direct Leisure Repairs, arrived at 9.30am. He started servicing Caravan's long-term test Barcelona immediately. Curious about what this involves, I followed Wayne around the caravan (and on top of it) as he carried out the service. Here's a guide to what gets checked and tested during an approved caravan service.

 
doing the gas check

Gas checks
The system is pressure tested, and should be at 30 mbar.
 
water flow check

Water flow
Does the water supply flow smoothly and under the correct pressure?
 
internal water tank check

Internal plumbing
The seals on the Thetford cassette are also checked, and lubricated if necessary.
 
checking seals

Leak detection
The technician checks behind the sink for any leaks, and checks the waste connection, too.
 
checking fixtures and fittings

Fixtures and fittings
The furniture, blinds and fittings are checked to ensure they are securely fixed to walls.
 
checking seals in the van

Interior seals
The seals on the door, windows and rooflights are inspected. 
 
Checking the lights
 
Lighting
The technician will check that each of the lights, LED strips and USB sockets is working.
 
checking the radiator

Radiator
The Alde radiator connections are checked along with making sure the panels are fixed securely to the wall.
 
Water tank 
At the front of the caravan, the internal tank and Alde heating system are inspected. The tank’s pump and fittings are checked and the tank is filled and drained. 
 
Heating
The Alde unit also receives a thorough looking over, from the fittings to the drain valve.
 
Plugs
Using a test plug, the earthing and the polarity on all the plug sockets are checked.
 
Basin check
Wayne carefully checks beneath and behind the washroom basin to ensure there are no hidden leaks.
 
floor damp check
Damp
All those difficult-to- reach floor spaces, as well as cupboards, are inspected for dampness. The highest reading we got was 9.1 in the bottle cupboard, next to the oven, where there is next-to-no ventilation. You would expect to see a slightly higher reading in these places. 
 
Hob and oven
Wayne turns on the hob gas burners and checks they are burning properly with a blue flame and the flames aren’t too high. He also tests the gas cut-off switch on the hob cover.
 
gas flow check

Carbon monoxide
This odourless gas can kill, so Wayne tests the caravan interior. He turns the hob burners and grill on to low and checks the combustion gas levels being outputted, the flow rate of gas and any carbon monoxide particles in the caravan.
 
RCD testing

Circuit breakers
The RCD (or circuit breaker) is put through its paces to make sure it will trip-off in the event of a voltage spike or short circuit.
 
leisure battery check

Leisure battery
A health check of the battery covers the connections and panels for any signs of damage. The battery is then hooked up to a meter 
to gauge its health.
 
carbon mono alarm

CO detector
All new caravans have carbon monoxide detectors fitted. Your AWS technician should check that it is functioning properly.
 
Internal wiring
Accessible wiring is checked to ensure it's all in good condition.
 
Ready for winter
Preparing the van for winter, the fridge-freezer doors are left ajar on their catches, to maximise airflow and minimise odours and mould.
 
checking wheels

Wheels and tyres
A blowout while towing could be a disaster, so the wheels come off and the tyre tread, walls and pressures are carefully checked. 
 
Shock absorbers
Functioning shocks are vital to maximise towing control and keep tyres in contact with the road. 
 
drum brake

Brake drums
Next it's the turn of the drum brakes; they are cleaned and the shoes checked, along with the wheel bearings. 
 
Torque wrench
The wheels go back on. A new hub nut is used, and all the nuts torqued up. 
It's important to check the torque after 20 miles of towing when the wheels have been off
 
fridge electrics

Fridge electrics
Does the fridge run correctly on 240V, 12V and gas? The fridge’s electrics, drains and fittings are checked. 
 
Fridge vents
The fridge vents are also removed and cleaned, as a good flow of air/gasses/heat is absolutely crucial.
 
Exhaust fumes
Our technician carries out a carbon monoxide test on the Alde heater exhaust.
 
checking hook up cable

Hook-up cable
The electric hook-up is tested along with the caravan’s socket to make sure there is no damage and that they are both in full working order.
 
Car 12V feed
The caravan is hooked up to the owner's car (exclusive to mobile servicing, unless you want to leave your car at the dealer and walk home) and the 12V connection is tested along with the lights, fridge 12V and the ATC system.
 
external checks

Exterior checks
Outside the caravan the technician conducts a series of external checks, starting off with the bodywork. He checks the seals, rubbers, roof and awning rail - basically he checks all of the exterior! This is to make sure there are no gaps in the sealant and nothing missing from where it should be.
 
solar panel is checked

Solar panel 
Our technician checks to see that the bonded-on solar panel is still securely fixed to the roof. You wouldn't want that falling off on the M1!
 
Rooflight seals
Wayne checks that the sealant around the bases of the rooflights is all intact. Perished sealant is a major cause of caravan leaks.
 
Drainage
Last, but by no means least, the waste flow is checked and the pipework under the van is inspected to make sure it is 
all secure.

Summary

Four hours later it’s all done. All the checks and tests have been completed and the Barcelona’s first service badge is in situ.   
An AWS-approved service typically costs around £200.
So it’s all over for another year. I haven’t had to leave my pitch and the warranty service can go back in the diary for next year. If only everything in life was this easy!

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