Now I don’t think I need to tell all of you just how frustrating, costly, and time-consuming unexpected damage to your van can be. This can even all be compounded if you find yourself in somewhere like the top end or the Kimberley where the limited availability of labour and parts can see the price tag on repairs sky rocket.
Funnily enough, most common breakages can be easily avoided with proper pre-trip maintenance and regular servicing – that and a bit of common sense out on the road! So let’s take a look at what I reckon are the five most common breakages out there, and how we can prevent them!
1. BURNED OUT BRAKES
If you’re travelling at 100km per hour down a busy high way with about 3 tonnes worth of caravan hitched up behind you, only to realise that when you hit the brakes, your caravan isn’t doing the same – it’s the stuff nightmares are made of. This could be the result of anything from broken trailer plug pins to burned-out brake pads/ shoes. To make sure this nightmarish situation never happens to you, get your brakes professionally checked and adjusted ever 10,000km at a licenced service and maintenance specialist - AND double-check your wiring is secured each time you hitch up.
2. BROKEN AXLES
This might affect offroad caravanners a bit more than those that stick to the black top – but it still affects all of us, and the results can be disastrous. Broken axles are usually caused by corrosion, stress and fatigue. Frequent coastal touring and years of hitting potholes can also be contributing factors. It pays to regularly get beneath your van and check for signs of bending, cracking and rust- if you see any of these, get your van checked with a caravan repair specialist right away! Getting axles that are either powder-coated or galvanised is a sure-fire way to get the most durability out of them.
3. WATER LEAKS
Now this should probably be number one on the list. Sadly, almost everyone is going to experience this at least once in their caravanning life without proper care of your setup. Caravans regularly experience water leaks because seals aren’t designed to last the life of the van, and eventually begin to break down. When you’re not on the road, leaving your van exposed to the elements is another source of water leaks. Store your van under cover when not in use and regularly check for cracks in exterior seals and silastic joints alternatively, you can get this checked at your next professional service. Most water leaks can be found around windows, hatches, air conditioners and your toilet and shower.
4. BATTERY FAILURE
I’ve found most battery problems arise from overcharging the things, bad installation or lack of servicing. The trick here is to be absolutely confident they’ve been installed correctly from the get go and that you insist on regular maintenance. When you use the wrong battery type, an undersized charger and over load the circuits you’re going to get bad performance and even the increased risk of an electrical fire – that’s why keeping your batteries healthy is so important.
5. HOT WATER SERVICE
Your biggest concern is always be corrosion here – and it’s more than likely going to be your anode rod, probably fitted behind the outside vent. This highly active metal rod depletes over time and can cause accelerated corrosion in other parts of the system. Check it about once a year and have it replaced if you see signs of corrosion. Also check all parts and fittings are tight, wiring is secure water hoses aren’t deteriorating.
Taking precautions before those big adventures and regular service and maintenance of your caravan is the best way to prevent costly repairs or even accidents once you hit the road. So remember to keep your eyes peeled for those warning signs.
If you have some maintenance tips I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to shoot me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org