Why should I get my Caravan, Motorhome or Folding Camper Serviced?
All new leisure vehicles are generally covered by a manufacturer’s warranty ranging from three to six years (perhaps longer in the case of ‘water ingress’ guarantees). Appliances in the vehicle (fridge, cookers, water pump, etc.) generally have a more limited manufacturer’s warranty of one to two years. Motorhome owners may have separate warranties that cover the base vehicle and leisure/habitation area of the vehicle.
One of the main reasons why leisure vehicle owners have their vehicles serviced annually is because it is a condition of the manufacturer’s warranty. There are, however, many other reasons why regular servicing is important. These include:
- Essential inspection and maintenance of the vehicle’s road-worthiness (brakes, wheels, tyres, running gear, chassis, etc.)
- Essential safety checks of gas and electrical systems
- Early indications of possible faults with appliances or systems that may require work to be carried out under an existing warranty agreement
- Routine maintenance of regularly used items like doors, windows, blinds, fly-screens, water pumps, heating systems and general plumbing
- Peace of mind that your vehicle is both roadworthy and in a habitable condition
Is there a difference between a ‘Full Service’ and a ‘Habitation Service’?
A ‘full service’ includes a ‘habitation service’ and an ‘under-gear service’
What is an ‘Under-Gear Service’?
An Under-Gear (or ‘chassis’) service generally covers all aspects of the caravan and folding camper’s chassis and running gear. Motorhomes are built on a commercial vehicle chassis and as such should be serviced by suitably qualified mechanics (as any other road vehicle that is required to have an ‘MoT’).
The following is not an exhaustive list but gives an idea of what is covered in an under-gear service:
- Condition of wheels & tyres (state, tread depth, inflation, etc.)
- Cleaning and adjusting of drum brakes, handbrake, over-run device, automatic traction control (ATC), etc.
- Lubrication of corner steadies and running gear
- Security and tightness of chassis bolts
- Condition and function of road lights and reflectors
- Operation of 12V systems when connected to the towing vehicle (including fridge and battery charging systems)
What is a ‘Habitation Service’?
A habitation service generally covers all aspects of the caravan, motorhome or folding camper’s accommodation or habitation area.
The following is not an exhaustive list but gives an idea of what is covered in a habitation service:
- Functional checks of electrical appliances (fridge, cooker, space and water heaters)
- Electrical safety check of RCD (residual current device)
- Gas safety check (leak test)
- Functional checks of gas appliances (fridge, cooker, space and water heaters)
- Functional checks of 12V systems (battery charging, lighting, pumps, etc.)
- Hot and cold fresh water systems and associated plumbing
- Maintenance of toilet and ‘grey’ waste-water systems
- Maintenance of locks, doors, windows, blinds and fly-screens
- Maintenance of cupboards, furniture and furnishings
- Lubrication of seals, window rubbers and other areas
- Damp testing (essential to give early indications of potential water ingress)
How often should my leisure vehicle be serviced?
Ideally, your caravan, motorhome or folding camper should be serviced annually. Most leisure vehicle manufacturers supply their vehicle with a ‘service book’(similar to new motor vehicles). On completion of the annual service, your book will be stamped by the engineer carrying out the service. Regular (i.e. annual) servicing of your leisure vehicle is a condition of the manufacturer’s warranty.
How long does a service take to complete?
An under-gear service typically takes an hour or so. A habitation service takes significantly longer (typically around three hours). Therefore, a full service can take between four and five hours.
Does Kent Caravan Engineering carry out work to the standards of the Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS)?
Although not a member of the scheme, the engineers of KCE Ltd are trained to the same standard (if not higher) than their colleagues in mobile and fixed AWS workshops. All work is carried-out to AWS standards and often to a much higher standard (particularly in relation to electrical and gas safety checks where additional tests are performed). Please contact us if you require any further information about what is covered in the annual service or to arrange your next service.
Does the cost of the service cover any required parts?
Any lubricants used during the service are covered by the cost. Any additional parts used (including ‘one-shot’ hub nuts, road lamps etc.) will be itemised on your bill and charged separately.
What happens if the engineer discovers a problem that can’t be immediately remedied or fixed?
Often, minor problems are immediately remedied, repaired or resolved during the service. However, there will be times when this is not possible and the repair will have to take place on another occasion (unless previously agreed and quoted for). There will be also occasions when spare parts are not readily available and this is beyond the control of the caravan engineer.
Please contact us if there are specific repairs that you are aware of as they can often be quoted for, parts ordered and the repairs completed at the same time as the annual service (saving you the additional inconvenience of a second appointment).
Are any repairs carried out guaranteed?
All work undertaken by KCE Ltd is guaranteed for six months (in addition to any manufacturers’ guarantees that exist for any parts fitted).
Are the gas appliances serviced during the service?
It is a common misconception that individual gas appliances are serviced automatically during the annual service. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Caravan engineers undertake intensive training specifically related to leisure vehicle gas systems and are registered with a trade body similar to ‘Gas Safe’ (in relation to domestic and commercial properties). As such, they are required to ensure that gas appliances are checked to ensure that they are working safely, at the correct gas pressure and are correctly flued (where necessary) and sealed from any habitation area (if ‘room-sealed’). If the flame is visible, the engineer will ensure that it is burning without generating soot deposits or showing evidence of incomplete combustion. Safety devices that close off the supply of gas in the event of the bottle running out of gas or the flame being extinguished, are also checked using test equipment.
At KCE Ltd we test to standards above the Approve Workshop Scheme’s (AWS) by routinely carrying-out flue gas analysis of the vehicle’s gas appliances to ensure that they are burning efficiently and not producing levels of carbon monoxide that may pose a risk to health.
These basic safety checks do not, however, constitute a ‘service’ of an individual gas appliance. LPG / gas appliance manufacturers typically recommend that their individual appliances should be serviced annually (especially fridges).
Please contact us if you require your fridge or other gas appliance to be serviced (either on its own or as part of the vehicle’s annual habitation or full service).
Is the electrical system tested and its condition reported on during the service?
Basic electrical checks (including a visual check of the wiring, bonding and an RCD function test) form part of the annual service. Although the checks satisfy the requirements of annual servicing (to above AWS standards), they do not meet the requirements of ‘Periodic Inspection’ which should be carried out on your vehicle’s electrical installation at an interval no greater than every three years.
Where can I get further information from?
For more information about maintaining your leisure vehicle’s electrical system, please read our article which you can find here.
For more information about ‘Periodic Inspections’ of your leisure vehicle’s electrical system, please read our article which you can find here.
Useful links on the importance of servicing your leisure vehicle can be found here:
- Caravan Guard: The Importance of an Annual Caravan Service
- The Trudigans: Caravan Servicing Part 1
- The Trudigans: Caravan Servicing Part 2