Caravan maintenance and servicing is often an important part of caravanning that can be overlooked in the initial excitement of the purchase.
Just like any RV, motor vehicle or camper, maintenance and servicing is the key to ensuring a longer lifespan and higher resale value.
With these caravan maintenance and servicing tips, you’ll always be on top of your van’s upkeep and have peace of mind when you hit the road for your next trip.
If you really want to stay organised with your caravan maintenance and servicing items, check out the Caravan Maintenance & Service Log further down in the article. It’s a downloadable 7-page planner with checklists, date fields and additional tasks to make sure you’re always on track.
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Why Do You Need to Service a Caravan?
It’s easy to slip into the mindset that only the tow vehicle needs to be serviced, however that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Although caravan servicing is much simpler (and often cheaper) than car servicing, it still needs to be done on the regular to avoid problems blowing out and causing unnecessary stress or expense.
REASONS FOR SERVICING A CARAVAN:
- Prevention – addressing minor issues rather than letting them become big issues
- Wear & tear – keeping on top of general maintenance, repairs & replacements
- Safety – avoiding potential accident-causing issues
- Save money – replacing a small part before it causes big problems is a much cheaper fix
- Roadworthiness – caravan must always be in a roadworthy condition to remain covered by insurance
- Resale value – preserving the quality of the caravan
How often should you service a caravan?
When buying a caravan from new, there will be a scheduled service at around 3 – 6 months or 1,000 km. This is just to make sure everything is working as it should, as well as tightening things back up.
The rule of thumb with caravan servicing is to make sure it’s done every 10,000 km or every 12 months – whichever comes first.
If you’re caravan is parked up for most of the year, you might like to also do a pre-travel service before hitting the road, just to have the peace of mind that all is well with the van.
The best way to keep track of your caravan’s kms is with a Caravan Log Book.
What Does a Standard Caravan Service Include?
When booking in for a professional caravan service, you will sometimes have a choice between a standard service and a premium service.
If you’re doing some regular checks and maintenance on your caravan yourself at home, then a standard service might be all you need. For those who prefer to get everything looked over professionally, a premium service would be the way to go.
Here’s what you can generally expect to have included in a standard service.
Standard Caravan Service:
- Clean & repack wheel bearings
- Adjust brakes
- Check wheel nuts & studs
- Check rear lights are all working
- Check wear on tyres
- Check tyre pressure
- Check wear on brake shoes
- Check chassis for cracks
- Check coupling & chains
What Does a Premium Caravan Service Include?
When you are due for the 10,000 km or 12 month service, getting a premium caravan service will certainly put your mind as ease, particularly if the caravan has been parked up for some time.
Here’s what’s generally included in a premium caravan service.
- Clean & repack wheel bearings
- Check & adjust brakes
- Check bushes
- Check wheel nuts & studs
- Check tails lights are all working
- Check wear & pressure on tyres
- Check chassis for cracks
- Check shackles, chains & coupling
- Grease coupling & nipples
- Adjust handbrake
- Check breakaway system
- Check jockey wheel
- Check & lubricate stabiliser legs
- Check springs & suspension
- Check spare wheel/s
- Check smoke alarm & battery
- Check gas system for leaks
- Inspect hot water system & anode
- Inspect awning & vinyl
- Inspect cabinet latches
- Inspect window latches
- Inspect all seals
- Check appliances (fridge, freezer, microwave)
- Check air conditioner (filters, noises)
- Check 12v lights
- Check mains 240v power
- Check battery system
- Check water pump
How much does a caravan service cost?
In the table below I’ve pulled together some service pricing from a variety of different caravan service providers.
This should help to give you an idea of what you’ll need to budget each year towards caravan servicing costs. Don’t forget to allow extra for parts that will need to be replaced every so often.
Here’s how much a caravan service generally costs:
- The average cost for a standard single axle caravan service is $320.14
- The average cost for a premium single axle caravan service is $456.50
- The average cost for a standard tandem axle caravan service is $405.85
- The average cost for a premium tandem axle caravan service is $561.50
|All Brands CS
|The Caravan Guys
(Gold Coast, QLD)
|Swift Caravan Services
|Emu Caravan Repairs
(Fern Tree Gully, VIC)
|Jayco Scheduled Services
Can you service a caravan yourself?
If you’ve purchased your caravan from new, you shouldn’t miss the scheduled services within the first year as they will be a requirement of your warranty. These services also give you the opportunity to bring up any issues that may need to be addressed while you’ve still got the warranty to fall back on.
Beyond that, you are well within your right to do your own caravan servicing at home if you’re mechanically-minded and good on the tools. As long as the caravan is always kept in a roadworthy condition, you should always be covered by insurance, no matter who services the caravan.
Caravan Maintenance & Service Log
Log and track all of your caravan maintenance and servicing requirements.
- 7-page Planner (digital & printable)
- Caravan Service History Log
- TICK OFF checklists
- COMPLETE maintenance tasks
- ADD in extra tasks
- RECORD maintenance & service dates
Extra Caravan Maintenance Items
Whether you service your own caravan or get it done professionally, there is always a list of additional caravan maintenance items that need to be addressed regularly.
Replace the Hot Water System Anode Rod
The majority of caravan hot water systems in Australia will have a sacrificial anode rod within. The role of the anode is to prevent rust and corrosion inside the hot water system by ‘sacrificing’ itself as the point of corrosion.
Replacing the sacrificial anode rod is something that needs to be done every six months (if used very regularly) or twelve months (for more infrequent use). Changing the anode is a fairly simple task, which you can do yourself at home with a few basic tools and knowledge.
How to Change a Caravan Anode Rod:
- Turn the power off
- Switch the water off
- Release the pressure
- Remove the anode
- Flush & clean the tank
- Add thread tape to new anode
- Install new anode
- Turn water on & ‘bleed’ tank
- Turn power & gas back on
To be taken through the process of changing an anode in a Suburban Hot Water System (common in Jayco caravans), take a look at these step-by-step instructions.
Reseal the Windows
One of the most common ways for water to find its way into a caravan is via old window seals that have gone hard and brittle. Resealing the windows every 12 months or so is good practice and will help to prevent potential larger issues down the track.
Whether the caravan is being used regularly, or is being stored for much of the time, the last thing you want to be dealing with is water leaking inside.
It’s also important to note that most caravan insurance policies will not cover for water or moisture damage. For more on that topic, check out this Guide to Caravan Insurance.
How to Reseal a Caravan Window:
- Remove the screws from around the window frame
- Use a sharp knife to cut through the old sealant
- Use a chisel & block of wood to carefully lever the window out of the frame
- Scrape off the old sealant (from the window & around the frame) with a plastic chisel
- Apply a thick bead of new sealant around the window edge, so that it oozes out when reinserted
- Replace the window into its frame and screw it back into place
- Clean off any excess sealant
Lubricate the Toilet Cassette Seal
Something rather important that needs to be lubricated every so often is the rubber seal on the caravan toilet cassette. This is the bit around the flap that you open and close to use the loo.
If that rubber ends up drying out, it will result in leakage… which I just know you don’t want to have to deal with!
How to Lubricate the Toilet Cassette Seal:
- Remove the slide cover
- Use a damp rag to clean around the seal (you can also add a bit of detergent)
- Put some olive oil or silicone lubricant onto the rag and rub it into the seal
- Dispose of the rag
- Replace the slide on cover & slot the cassette back into its cabinet
For more info, here’s How to Empty & Maintain a Caravan Toilet Cassette.
Clean the Drains & Pipes
Caravan pipes can get a bit smelly and even tend to clog up easier due to their smaller size. Giving them a good clean out every so often will help to keep them clear, plus prevent the smells from permeating the inside of the van.
How to Clean Caravan Pipes:
- Block off the end of the caravan waste pipe by stuffing it with some rags
- Pour a drain cleaning solution down each of the drains
- Stuff your shower plug hole with a rag so that the dirty water & debris doesn’t come back up into the shower
- Turn on the kitchen & bathroom taps and let the pipes slowly fill up with water
- Keep an eye on things – you don’t want to flood your van!
- Allow the water & cleaning solution to sit in the pipes for about 30 minutes (check drain cleaner label)
- Remove the plug at the end of the pipe and let the water flow out
- Flush out the pipes with running water
Natural Drain Cleaner Alternative:
If you don’t want to use the hardcore draino stuff (especially if you’re in a campground), bicarb and vinegar is a cleaner alternative.
|NATURAL DRAIN CLEANER
|What You’ll Need:
White Vinegar + Bicarb Soda + Boiling Water
1. Boil a full kettle of water
2. Pour boiling water down all of your drain holes
3. Put a tablespoon of Bicarb Soda in each drain hole
4. Pour White Vinegar on top of the Bicarb and let it fizzle
5. Allow the solution to sit for 5 – 10 minutes
6. Meanwhile, boil another full kettle of water
7. Finish by pouring boiling water down each drain & flush with tap water
Clean the Water Tanks
The best product for cleaning caravan water tanks is bleach as it kills 99.9% of germs, viruses and bacteria.
Make sure you use the plain variety with no additives or fragrances.
Steps for Cleaning Water Tanks:
- Empty the tanks & lines
- Add cleaning solution to the tanks
- Refill the tanks with water
- Turn on the taps to fill all of the water lines
- Leave for 24 hours
- Empty & flush the tanks & lines
- Refill with fresh water for use
See the guide below for all of the steps involved in cleaning caravan water tanks, plus the correct dilution ratios for the various products.
Clean the Vents, Hatches & Air Conditioning Filters
The interior vents and hatches around the caravan are common places for dust and dirt to build up. A clean with a damp cloth every few months will keep the dust down and the air flowing well.
In addition, to keep the air conditioner running at full capacity, pull out the filters every couple of months and give them a wash under the tap, then sit them outside to air dry before popping them back in.
Replace the Water Filter
When was the last time the water filter was replaced (if you have one)? Unless your caravan is being used all the time, a water filter replacement once every 12 months is more than enough.
|TIP! – Every time you replace the water filter cartridge, write it down on a slip of paper and sticky tape it to the inside of the kitchen cupboard door so you can remember for next time.
Clean the 12v Fans
Another very popular spot for dust to hang out is on the 12 volt fans, especially when they’re getting used a lot. Although it’s finicky work, getting in there with a damp cloth and giving them a good clean every few months is essential.
As they say, prevention is better than the cure, which could not be any more relevant with mould. Keeping the mould away is far easier than trying to eradicate the spores once they’ve already moved in.
Still Air + Humidity + Dust = Ideal mould growth conditions
Mould Prevention Tips:
- VENTILATION – regularly ventilate the van with fresh flowing air
- KEEP IT CLEAN – wipe down all surfaces (including walls & ceilings) to reduce organic matter
- DRY OUT THE AIR – run the heater for 5 – 10 mins every so often to dry out the air
- MOISTURE ABSORBERS – place moisture absorbers in drawers & cupboards to draw out moisture
- KEEP FRIDGE DOOR AJAR – when the van isn’t in use, keep the fridge & freezer doors ajar for air flow
Mould growth in the ceiling corners and far reaches of the caravan cupboards is more common than you might think. If you find yourself with the dreaded spores, this Guide to Dealing with Mould in a Caravan will be useful.
Clean the Caravan Exterior
To maintain your caravan’s resale value and increase its lifespan, you’ll want to give it a good wash every 3 months or so. To extend this out, consider storing the caravan in a shed, under a tall carport or at least invest in a good caravan cover.
Tips for Cleaning the Caravan Exterior:
- Start with the roof
- Use a ladder, hose & broom to get to the high places
- Have a second person on the ground holding the ladder and hose
- Avoid high-pressure hoses that can cause damage & water ingress through the seals
Here’s 22 Tips for Cleaning a Caravan.
Clean the Awning
Caravan awnings end up pretty dirty over time, which of course will increase the chance of mould growth. Pulling the awning out to give it a good clean, then letting it air-dry before being put away is the key.
How to Clean a Caravan Awning:
- Pull awning out & angle it down
- Have one person hold a hose on the vinyl while a second person scrubs with a soft-bristled broom
- Work your way from one end to the other
- Angle the awning back up and repeat the process on the underneath side of the vinyl
- Let the awning completely air-dry before rolling back up
Clean the Solar Panels
To make sure that the caravan’s batteries are always being maintained, it’s important to keep the rooftop solar panels clean and clear.
One way to access the solar panels, depending on their placement, is to poke your body up through the roof hatch and see if you can reach them from there with a soft-bristled broom and hose.
Otherwise, you’ll have to get yourself a good ladder so that you can reach the solar panels from around the edge of the van.
Inspect for Rust
Regularly inspecting the caravan for rust will save you lots of headaches down the track. Getting on top of surface rust is a much smaller task than replacing entire sections that have extensive rust patches.
Keeping the caravan clean and dry will prevent rust from popping up. In addition, if there is any damage on the outside of the caravan, particularly where the paint has chipped off, get it fixed as soon as you can so that rust doesn’t ensue.
As well as inspecting the outside walls of the caravan, don’t forget to check underneath the caravan and make sure there are no stress cracks or rust appearing on the chassis and A frame.
Wheel & Tyre Maintenance
Maintaining your caravan tyres is one of the most important things to keep on top of. They keep you rolling and your safety on the road depends heavily on the health of your tyres.
Caravan Wheel & Tyre Checks:
- Correct tyre pressure (calculator below)
- Plenty of tyre tread left
- Check age of tyres
- Inspect for sidewall bulges
- Inspect for chips & cracks in the rubber
- Wheel alignment
- Tighten wheel nuts
- Check the spares for age, pressure & bulging
Lubricate Moving Parts
There are many moving parts on the caravan, which can stiffen over time. Here are some items that may need to be lubricated from time to time.
- Hinges (inside & out)
- Jockey wheel
- Chains & shackles
- Hitch coupling
- Stabiliser legs
Wiring can become frayed, pulled out or broken over time. However, those little wires have pretty important jobs, particularly when it comes to tail lights and the breakaway system.
Wiring to Check:
- Anderson plug (to trickle feed power into the caravan’s battery system)
- Breakaway system
- Caravan tail lights
Now that you’ve got the caravan maintenance and servicing covered, here are 30 Tips for Storing a Caravan.