11 hot ways to prepare your campervan for cold winter storage
Prepping your vehicle for winter storage is easy, and well worth the trouble
You might think that wintertime is no time to be rolling around the countryside in your campervan.
Some might heartily disagree with that idea – and most campervans should be up to the task. But the reality is people tend to schedule fewer outdoor-based adventures when there might be snow or freezing rain in the forecast.
So, here are a few tips to help maintain your vehicle through the season.
1. Pop open that roof
The first priority might be to give that pop-up roof a little extra TLC. If there’s any dampness in the edges as it’s been folded up, you don’t want to leave it that way for an extended time. It could encourage mold, damage the material, and make for a slightly smelly surprise come springtime. If you have a garage or carport roof you can tuck the campervan under – unfurl that roof so you can wipe down those surfaces and let it breathe a bit before closing it back up.
2. Banish those crumbs
This may sound obvious, but check that you’ve emptied the fridge and there are no food items or other perishables that won’t be very nice by next year, or be out of date by the time you use them. Surely that wouldn’t be a pleasant surprise next year either, but you also don’t want to attract mice. Think of it as a good opportunity to have a clear out and declutter of all the stuff you’ve probably accumulated on all your trips during the year.
3. Lighten the load
If you use the camper as a second vehicle over the winter months, then there’s no point carting around any extra weight, anyway. Heavier items like gas bottles will be best removed if you have somewhere safe to store them. What other kit have you got in there that doesn’t need to stay in the vehicle all winter?
4. Charge it up
Driving your campervan regularly over the winter months is recommended as it will help keep the battery charged and create some healthy air flow through it. If you don’t really use it in the cold, check the charge on both the main and leisure batteries every month or so, as it’s not good for them to run completely flat. Check that there’s nothing left on that could be slowly draining them. If you have a solar panel fitted, this can top up the charge.
5. Keep it clean
If you’re not using the ‘van at all over the winter, it’s a good idea to keep everything as well ventilated as possible. Consider leaving the fridge and cupboard doors open a bit so air can circulate. Give every cupboard a good clean so it will be ready to go in the spring. Maybe it’s time to get your camping duvet or sleeping bags cleaned. Some people put sheets over upholstery to prevent dampness, sun damage, or dust accumulation.
6. Check energy sources
Do the gas and electrical systems work properly? If not, now is probably a good time to get them sorted professionally. Why wait until spring, when everyone will be doing the same in anticipation of the brighter, warmer weather? Workshops will be busier then, and you might have to wait longer than you want, so get any repairs done now.
7. Schedule that maintenance
Actually, even if everything is working fine, you may want to book your campervan for a service and habitation check before spring so you’re ahead of everyone else having the same idea. Check if this is a condition of your warranty. Things like gas pipes do become perishable over time, so do need changing for your own safety.
8. Kick those tyres
Remember to check the condition of the tyres as well. If your campervan doesn’t do a big annual mileage, the treads of the tyres will probably still look like they have plenty of miles in them yet. But often it’s worth checking that tyre sidewalls since they of the tyres as they constantly support a fair amount of weight and can absorb a little sun damage during summer.
If your campervan is going to be stationary for an extended period, it’s a good idea to move it every so often to the weight isn’t on the same part of the tyre all the time. Also, try not to leave it with the handbrake on in case it ceases. Many people prefer to leave it in gear or with chocks under the wheels.
9. Drain lingering fluids
Water containers and pipework must be drained if you’re not going to use them to protect them from bursting if there is water trapped in them when temperatures drop below freezing (even if they are inside the vehicle). It’s important to clean them throughly and sterilise them properly so no nasty bacteria can develop while they’re not being used. This is especially true if you travel with your own portable toilet in the ‘van. It will need specific cleaning fluids. Check out the range from the toilet experts.
10. Check on it
When you’re not using your campervan much, it’s worth checking it over every week or so, particularly if it’s stored away from home where you can’t keep a close eye on it. For increased peace of mind, check there’s no signs of any human or animal tampering with it, or any damage from any storm or passer-by.
11. Stay vigilant
If there is any damage that will require a claim on your insurance, it’s best to be able to report it to your insurer as soon as possible. That way, they can verify if there has been any bad weather recently, and start the process for getting any repairs done.
Finally, does your insurance specify if any particular security devices should be fitted if the vehicle is not being used, or in storage? It does, hopefully, go without saying that you need to have your campervan fully insured at all times, including when you’re not using it.
Fortunately, a campervan is much easier to store or protect for the winter than a caravan or motorhome, but if you can, please try some winter camping and make the most of your vehicle all year round.
The truth is, proper cold weather storage shouldn’t require too much work. And ultimately it’s worth it to make sure your dream machine stays in top condition. It sure doesn’t hurt to know it can be ready to go at a moment’s notice for an impromptu winter weekend away.
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