Whether you park up your campervan for winter or continue to enjoy life on the road through the bitterest weather, the right preparation can prevent damage to your van, as well as potential injury to yourself and others.
Here’s our advice on getting your campervan ready for winter!
If you plan to keep your campervan or motorhome on the road, it’s always good to refresh your memory about winter driving. In particular, leave more time for journeys and keep your campervan well stocked with essentials such as de-icer, windscreen wash, blankets and snacks.
Braking distances should be doubled or even trebled in severe weather and this is especially important in larger, heavier vans and classic campervans built before the introduction of Anti-locking Braking Systems.
For many campervanners, there’s no such thing as the wrong weather, simply the wrong clothing - and, we might add, a distinct lack of insulation. If you’re undeterred by the colder weather, winter campervanning can be a joy, with quieter campsites and cosy evenings tucked up in your van with hot chocolate gently steaming on the stove.
Book in your van for a winter service before the cold snap sets in and carry out basic maintenance checks before each trip:
One of the best investments for any van is a set of thermal window blinds, which not only retain heat in winter but can help keep your van cool when summer returns.
The blinds are manufactured specifically to suit different campervan and motorhome models and most come with suction pads attached, enabling you to simply stick them on the windows before the evening gets dark.
If you favour campsites with electric hook-ups, a portable blow heater or oil-filled radiator will warm your van in a jiffy, while blue butane gas bottles should be switched to red bottles of propane, which has a lower freezing temperature.
If you’re using gas on board, you must leave floor vents uncovered. Fit a carbon monoxide detector inside your van and always turn the gas off when travelling.
Wintering abroad in your campervan or motorhome? Note that winter tyres are a legal requirement in some countries, so always read up carefully on your destination beforehand.
If, for you, campervanning is synonymous with summer beach days and long, balmy evenings, you’ll want to put your van to bed for winter. If that’s the case, start by washing it and applying a couple of coats of wax, to protect from frost.
Empty all cupboards and lubricate the hinges, and clean out the fridge thoroughly, propping the door ajar to prevent mould. For the same reason, vacuum the carpets and pull foam seat cushions away from the walls.
Placing moisture-absorbing crystals or a dehumidifier in your van can also help stop the build-up of mildew over winter. It’s also advisable to cover external vents to prevent mice and creepy crawlies getting inside and making themselves a cosy winter home!
Drain all water, including the water tank, heaters and waste water. If you have a loo on board, don’t forget the cassette! Change the oil before putting your van into winter storage and top up the antifreeze in the engine.
Take out any gas bottles and store them safely in the garage or shed. Ideally, your van will also be kept in a garage over the coming months but, if this isn’t an option, a cover will prevent a build-up of winter dirt, grime and leaves.
Make sure the fabric is breathable, to prevent condensation and mildew. If using a heavy-duty tarpaulin, prop it on a raised structure over your van to maintain space between the tarp and the bodywork.
If your campervan isn’t kept in a locked garage over winter, make sure you draw the curtains or thermal blinds to deter thieves from looking inside. Take out all valuables, which might not be covered by gadget insurance while the van isn’t in use.
Think about security for your van, such as:
Keeping your van in a storage compound when not in use can also increase security, but make sure you update your insurer about the change of address.
If your campervan is stored away for months at a stretch, you can legally declare it off the road with a statutory off-road notification (SORN). With a SORN, you don’t need insurance, road tax or a valid MOT certificate.
However, there’s still the risk your van could be stolen or damaged while parked up on your drive or in the garage, so keeping your van insured could be a good idea.
And if you don’t already own a home-from-home but are thinking about buying a campervan or motorhome, the winter months can be a really good time to do your research and snap up a bargain ahead of the springtime rush.