Tech advice: What to do with your motorhome during the coronavirus crisis
The coronavirus crisis has affected everyone in the UK, changing the way we live and work.
For many, leisure time has become seriously restricted, not least for motorhome and campervan owners.
At the time of year when many motorhome and campervan owners are travelling around the UK and further afield, into Europe and possibly beyond, our vehicles are instead parked up on driveways and on secure storage sites in an extended hibernation.
MMM readers have been in touch asking for advice on what to do with their motorhomes during this time, and what maintenance and care they can extend to ensure vehicles are kept in good condition.
Our team of tech advice experts have responded...
My motorhome has been on our drive since October and I am wanting advice as to whether it is best to go a few miles to turn the engine over or leave it alone in light of the current coronavirus lockdown?
Do you have any advice on caring for my campervan during the period I am isolating?
Nick Fisher, Base vehicle expert
"Under normal circumstances I would advise using your motorhome whenever you can because, as long as you drive far enough to get the engine fully up to temperature, the benefits to the engine, battery, brakes, tyres and even the ventilation system are enormous for an older motorhome that does not have a diesel particulate filter.
However, the risks of clogging the filter up on later vehicles by not driving far enough would outweigh the benefits.
Under the current situation with the current guidance, which will be revised regularly, I would add the following:
- If your vehicle is parked at your home and you have kept the starting battery charged, you could use the vehicle for your essential shopping trips. A journey over a couple of miles will be of more benefit than harm to an older model.
- If there is any doubt about the condition of the battery or brakes, in particular, it would not be wise to begin the process of getting it ready for the road. This increases the likelihood that you may have to call upon the assistance of others. Whether this assistance is needed at home or out on the road, it would contravene the current rules regarding social distancing and so would be irresponsible.
- If your motorhome or campervan is kept remotely, for the above reasons you should leave it where it is and expect that, when you need it again, it may require a new battery and perhaps some attention to the brakes, so a once over from a mechanic would be a good idea.
Clive Mott, Electrical expert
As I write this we are precluded for going for a jolly in the motorhome and exercise has to start on foot or on a push bike, not via motorised transport. Nipping down to the supermarket once a week only works for the smaller panel van conversions because of size and is unlikely to get the vehicle adequately warmed up.
If you are able to keep the motorhome or campervan connected to a mains hook-up then keeping it safe, batteries charged and secure is relatively easy. When the temperature might become sub-zero, one can always leave the heating running set to, say, 10˚C on electricity. This is especially important if the water system has not been properly drained down and pipes purged of water by blowing down them or other methods.
If you don’t have a mains hook-up capability then a decent-sized solar panel wired so it charges both leisure and starter batteries is almost an essential. The batteries need to be kept topped up if only to keep the alarm and possibly tracker systems functional. If these don’t work your insurance may be invalid. Those who use storage facilities please note.
You should keep your fuel tank full. This minimises the amount of water that will get into the fuel by condensation inside the fuel tank.
And, if you are really keen, put the vehicle on axle stands so that the tyres remain round. Failure to do this results in the first few miles of travel being a little lumpy, but it normally sorts itself out after the tyres have been at operating temperature for a few miles.
Barry Norris, Technical and legal advice
The previous articles regarding preparing your motorhome for winter storage already cover most of the preventative measures you should take and I would hope that readers have already sorted their battery charging situations by now, along with the filling of fuel tanks.
Our unique climatic conditions in the UK can result in condensation forming in fuel tanks at any time of the year.
I am of the opinion that, in most cases, although there may be benefits to turning the engine over and letting it idle for a few minutes, there are many risks too.
If you have an older motorhome that could get up to temperature within a couple of miles and won’t be filling a filter with soot, then the benefits should outweigh the risks but make sure that your journey is essential and that the motorhome is compatible with your destination regarding height barriers or other size restrictions before you go.
This is especially important at supermarkets, which often have height barriers.
Peter Rosenthal, General advice
If your motorhome is stored remotely from your house, you must leave it there and do nothing. It will not be considered an essential journey to carry out work on a motorhome if that work could have been done at a later date.
If your motorhome or campervan is stored next to your house, then ensure the batteries are charged (either by mains hook-up or solar panel) and make sure the tyres are pumped up to their maximum.
In three to four months, the motorhome should not degrade to any massive extent.
As the weather is now warm, there’s no need to drain anything down either (with the possible exception of Scotland).
Terry Acreman, MMM Tech Help editor and ex-Peugeot technician
As mentioned already, it is essential to make sure your motorhome’s batteries are kept charged while it is idle. A hook-up and/or solar panels will do this for you.
If your motorhome or campervan is on your driveway, you can use it for your essential shopping trip. This way oil will be moved around gearbox and brakes used. Also, when returned, the tyres should not be in the same position.
If you are not using your motorhome or campervan for a while again and, if it is safe to do so, chock the wheels and leave the handbrake off.
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