Everything you need to know about caravans: ¿how to buy them and maintenance? (2022)

19 Min Read
Everything you need to know about caravans

When on vacation, camping offers a sense of independence. Another important consideration is that the price of a change is significantly lower than that of a hotel or a hostel.

These are just some of the reasons why camping is attracting a growing number of fans all over the world.

Everything you need to know about caravans

Soon, a tent won’t be adequate, and then you’ll have to decide between a caravan and a motorhome as your primary mode of transportation when camping.

You will be able to read in this article not only about the benefits of owning a caravan and the factors to take into consideration when purchasing one but also about how to drive a caravan, how to maintain it, and the legal considerations involved.

1. The benefits of traveling in a caravan as opposed to a motorhome

2. Requirements regarding the law and technology

3. Expenses, including insurance, parking, and repairs

4. a pre-owned travel trailer or caravan

5. A complete reworking of the technology that goes into vehicles

6. Preventative maintenance and trip planning

7. A comprehensive clean-up in advance of the vacation

8. Legal regulations and weights

1. The Benefits of Caravans in Comparison to Motorhomes

In many ways, a caravan can be compared to a modest apartment that is fully furnished. In most cases, onboard amenities include a bed, heating system, refrigerator, stove, sink, and, of course, a shower and toilet.

When compared to renting a motorhome, having a vehicle that can pull the RV gives you the advantage of unrestricted mobility throughout your vacation destination.

On the other hand, traveling during the day in a motorhome severely restricts your mobility. When you are transporting trailers, you are restricted to traveling at a slower speed than usual.

This is one of the drawbacks. The maximum speed that is allowed varies from 50 to 62 miles per hour, depending on the individual requirements.

2. Requirements pertaining to the law and technology (towing vehicles)

And now we will discuss the legal aspects of the situation. In order to pull a caravan, your towing vehicle will also require a trailer, in addition to wider and more expansive rearview mirrors.

Having the proper driver’s license is another requirement that goes without saying. If you obtained your driver’s license after 1998, you are only permitted to tow small trailers that do not have brakes if you have a conventional class B license.

It is prohibited for the combined weight of the items to exceed 3.5 tons.

You need a driving license that covers B+E heavy trailers in order to be able to pull a caravan behind your vehicle.

You also need to make sure that the towing capacity of the vehicle that will be pulling the caravan is equal to or greater than that of the caravan itself, including the vertical load.

Towing capacities for conventional mid-range sedans typically range from 1,400 to 1,600 kg, which is sufficient for most caravans.

It is imperative that the aggregate weight of the trailer does not go beyond that of the vehicle doing the pulling.

Larger caravans necessitate the use of larger towing vehicles, such as luxury sedans, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), or larger light off-road vehicles.

3. The costs associated with owning a caravan include insurance, parking, and maintenance.

It is required for a caravan to have at least insurance that covers damages to third parties. The costs are approximately one hundred dollars on an annual basis on average.

In addition to that, a camping insurance policy can be purchased on a voluntary basis. Also, keep in mind that in some countries the toll for a larger set of vehicles is higher than the toll for a single vehicle.

There is also the possibility of costs associated with parking, given that it is permissible to leave a caravan parked in a public circulation space for longer than two weeks at a time.

As a result, you will likely require a parking lot in many instances. It is also recommended to choose a site that is covered because otherwise the caravan will be exposed to the elements for a significant portion of the year.

4. When purchasing a used caravan, there are some considerations you need to keep in mind.

In the event that you are interested in purchasing a caravan, it is not necessary for you to pay attention to the possibility of any damages. On the other hand, you need to have one if you plan to purchase a used one.

It is important to inspect not only the outside but also the inside of the caravan.

On the exterior, the shock absorbers, the condition of the axle along with the braking system, the tires, the lighting, the drawbar along with the tow hitch (which is typically a ball coupling), the handbrake, and the plug for connection to the socket of the vehicle that is being towed should all be inspected.

The majority of caravans use plugs that have 13 pins.

You are going to need an adapter if the plug on your towing vehicle has seven pins. Concerning the clutch, you need to make sure that it is not slipping.

On a suitable test rig, the effect of the braking should be measured. It is not sufficient to simply measure the tread depth when performing a tire inspection on a caravan.

The tires have a good profile even after many years despite the fact that caravans are moved very infrequently.

Nevertheless, the rubber compound will eventually lose its plasticizer. This process is hastened by the presence of ultraviolet radiation and de-icing salt.

After this happens, the tires end up being brittle and porous. Therefore, age is also a factor in determining the outcome.

5. A comprehensive analysis of the technology used in vehicles

The ITV will also verify whether or not the sticker has expired. Stabilizers, shock absorbers, and anti-lock brakes are all required safety features for brand-new caravans.

In any event, it is equipped with an inertia brake. In addition to the standard general inspection, the gas system is examined as well.

This examination typically encompasses the refrigerator (whether it is electric or gas-powered), the heating system, and the gas oven. It’s possible that there are gas lamps on board as well.

Ensure that the subfloor, water, and gas systems are functioning correctly. On top of the metal, subfloor frames are wood panels or composite wood panels, which make up the subfloor.

It is important to check the wood for rot, and the metal should be inspected for corrosion. If there are carpets in the vehicle, they should be examined to determine whether or not they are damp, paying particular attention to the areas around the corners and edges.

Additionally, the roof, as well as the joints of the skylights, doors, and windows, should be inspected for any signs of dampness.

Check out the state the system that handles the potable water is in as well. All of the gas system’s test certificates have to be in good standing (or a new inspection is required which would reduce the purchase price).

Additionally, it must be in accordance with all of the DIN EN 1949 standards. It is important to check not only the electrical equipment but also the entire gas system that is on board.

Counted among these aspects is also the state of the battery. Corrosion can frequently be found at the connection points.

The caravan’s onboard electrical infrastructure

In most cases, the electrical system is built in such a way that it is possible to generate an electrical supply by using the 12-volt mains of the towing vehicle, which is another way of saying by using the battery itself.

On the other hand, it is also possible to produce it using 230-volt mains. Alternately, the gas-powered refrigerator can be converted to one that runs on electricity.

As soon as all of the checks have been completed, you can move on to verifying the functionality of the remaining pieces of equipment, such as the table that folds out into a bed, the other functions of all storage spaces, etc.

6. Repairs (for extended parking) and packing up the caravan in preparation for a trip

During the time that a caravan is not being used, there are a few key areas that require attention to ensure that it remains in good condition.

Those who are more committed to the cause will prop the caravan up while it is parked in order to reduce the strain on the tires and suspension.

Caution should be exercised when operating the handbrake. It is sufficient to chock the wheels of the caravan so long as it is situated on level ground and does not roll of its own accord.

If you are able to take the time once every couple of weeks to release the handbrake and reposition it, then you can go with this option.

If this is not the case, you should not park the vehicle for an extended period of time because it increases the likelihood that the brakes will become stuck.

Taking care of and performing maintenance on the trailer’s fresh water system

Campers never fail to bring up the subject of the drinking water supply. Before a lengthy stay, it is recommended by some that the system be emptied completely.

On the other hand, this necessitates that the system is totally devoid of any moisture. Because of this, some people who own caravans use chemicals.

The container that holds the system is loaded with potable water that has been diluted with the appropriate chemical.

Specific water intakes fitted with a sensor and pump are responsible for maintaining a constant level of water in the system.

A number of people who own caravans rely on chlorine dioxide, which is added to the water in accordance with what the manufacturer recommends.

Everything must be drained before winter arrives (risk of frost). If this is not the case, then clean water and possibly the appropriate chemical component are added to the system in order to flush and clean it before it is restarted.

Silver salts, which are also utilized frequently, are ineffective unless applied to water that has been purified.

When there is a possibility of frost, it is important to ensure that the water in the pipes, boiler, and taps has been drained.

Remember to take into account the wastewater tanks. It is necessary to dispose of wastewater from portable toilets in a distinct manner because the contents of each tank vary.

Everything you need to know about caravans

The system for the gas: Be mindful of the regulations and the deadlines for inspections.

As was just mentioned, the gas system needs to be in accordance with the pertinent DIN EN standards.

When not in use, a gas cylinder needs to be kept in a specific location that prevents any of the gas insides from escaping. It is imperative that this be protected.

The gas box must be outfitted with gas hoses that are no more than ten years old at the time of installation.

It is required that the interior of the caravan be outfitted with certain components, such as copper gas pipes.

System overhaul periods must not be exceeded. It is important to remember to disassemble the gas cylinder and put it away in a secure location whenever the caravan is not being used.

It is important to take into consideration both red returnable gas cylinders and grey private gas cylinders in standard sizes.

Before going on vacation, make sure that all of your appointments for inspecting the gas system are taken care of in a timely manner. In addition, the gas cylinder ought to be installed in a timely manner in order to allow for repairs to be carried out.

Including but not limited to an electrical system, refrigerator, and storage space

A battery is typically installed in a caravan, and it should be disconnected prior to storage. If the caravan is also left outside during the winter, the battery needs to be kept in a location that is both warmer and drier.

The doors of refrigerators should be propped open just a crack to prevent mold and mildew growth, and the doors of storage areas should also be propped open to prevent musty odors.

Mattresses, seat cushions, and other similar items need to be kept in a dry environment.

7. Before you go on vacation, perform a general inspection of the caravan.

It is not a good idea to leave the preparation of the caravan for the trip until the very last minute. On the trailer itself, you need to inspect the lighting, the function of the brakes, the lubrication of the clutch, and the tire pressure.

In addition, you should check the lubrication of the clutch. After cleaning the water system and the connection point of the water tank, you should check that all of the components in the caravan are functioning properly as well.

Always make sure to schedule your appointments in such a way that you have enough time left over in case there is a breakdown or you need to perform some maintenance.

Putting the driver through their paces

Even if the driver possesses the appropriate driver’s license, he must always ensure that he has sufficient time before the practice drive vacation.

The majority of people who own caravans do not pull anything behind them year-round, with the exception of occasional circuitous journeys.

Because of this, prior to going on vacation with a larger trailer, it is a good idea to get some experience driving in reverse and maneuvering the vehicle.

These test drives are the best way to evaluate the trailer’s operational condition from a purely technical standpoint.

8. You shouldn’t leave anything to chance

Weighing the vehicle after it has been loaded up with the trailer and before setting out on a trip is something that is highly recommended.

This also applies to vehicles that are loaded while towing. Both in the United Kingdom and in the United States, special checks are performed on caravans.

In the event that the permitted weights are exceeded, the police have the authority to immediately remove the caravan from the roadway.

A necessary step in the preparation process is to educate oneself on the legal requirements imposed on caravans by both the countries that will serve as the final destination and the countries that will be traversed on the way there.

The costs of many different types of fines and penalties can be significantly higher in other countries.

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