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Thank you for finding this article, my aim is to build your motorhome & campervan knowledge, so you can make an informed decision about the maintenance of your vehicle.
Before we jump in, and just for transparency, “disclosure”, I own and operate a workshop. Customers often ask questions about Cambelts, I figure an article covering frequent questions will help to inform you, so further questions are built on a common understanding. There are different types of repairers, so hopefully, this will help you decide if we are the right fit for you.
Motorhomes and Campervans come in all shapes and sizes, just like cars, they can have different features and benefits. Purchase decisions are usually made on; layout, external length, how many births, etc. The Cambelt is not high on this list, so this might be the first time you have considered the Cambelt in your maintenance programme.
For this article, let’s call the company that made the base vehicle (which includes the engine, chassis and running gear) the “manufacturer” and the organisation that has built the motorhome or campervan element of your vehicle the “converter”.
The Cambelt is fitted within the engine, the engine was made by the Manufacturer. Popular manufacturers within the world of Motorhome and Campervans include Fiat, Peugeot, Citroën, Ford, Merc, Iveco.
Your Cambelt keeps all the valves and pistons in your Motorhome or Campervan working together, but “more” importantly, it also stops them from touching in a clever “timed” manner. If the Cambelt breaks, the clever timing fails, and the valves (8 to 16 of them) could impact the top of your pistons, which could result in a lot of very expensive damage.
Question: When should I change my Cambelt?
You will need to do some research on your vehicle, or speak to your trusted mechanical repairer, as not all engines have a Cambelt, some have a Camchain. A Camchain is usually good for the lifetime of the engine. If you do have a Cambelt, check your service book, the trigger for change is usually “time” or “mileage”, most Motorhomes and Campervans are low mileage, so the “time” period becomes the trigger for change. Example: Fiat Ducato is every 5 years.
The rubber within the Cambelt (sometimes called a Timing Belt) breaks down over time, this type of damage is called oxidation, and it can be caused by oxygen and ozone. So it doesn’t matter if you are using your vehicle or not, the Cambelt will be deteriorating, and will need replacing.
Question: should I buy/use genuine parts when changing my Cambelt?
Like many things in life, not all parts are the same, price is one element of the buying decision, quality is another.
Genuine parts are supplied by the vehicle manufacturer, these are sometimes called OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer parts. A genuine/OEM part is a safe bet, and when you consider the time (cost) in labour to replace the part, you do not want to have an issue and replace it again.
That said there are some high quality “non-genuine” or ”pattern parts” on the market some parts made for the vehicle manufacture are sold under a different name/brand via independent part suppliers. Ask your mechanical repairer about their thoughts/experience with Cambelts for your vehicle.
Question: Should I replace my Water Pump when replacing my Cambelt?
The Cambelt and Water Pump are often part of the same “sub-assembly” which means, when you need to access one, you will need to remove the other.
Question: What type of repairer should I use to replace my Cambelt?
Ideally, find a repairer that can complete all repairs under one roof, this means whatever your issue, you have built one relationship with one organisation. They know you and more importantly, they know your motorhome or campervan.
Ask questions like:
Build a maintenance plan, so you are aware of costs over a 10 year period. The good news is the Cambelt is not a yearly cost, so by planning you can budget for costs that are known but are infrequent. Here are some typical maintenance actions for a Motorhome or Campervan:
As mentioned above, another example of a known, but infrequent cost tyres. Tips to be aware of:
A prudent approach is to plan for new tyres every 5 years.
I hope the above is useful, if you’d like to book your Motorhome or Campervan in for a Cambelt Replacement please do so HERE
If you have any questions or feedback, please drop us an email at email@example.com
Thank you for reading!
Well first off, thank you for finding this document, perhaps I can set the scene by sharing who I am, and why I’m writing this article.
My first name is Oakleigh, and I run Bristol Caravans, we are based in the South West of England (UK). We service, repair, store and offer touring pitches for Caravans, Motorhomes and Camper Vans.
So yes, we offer motorhome services, but I’m also passionate about doing the right thing when it comes to servicing and repairs. Why am I passionate? Well firstly I’ve been in the automotive sector since leaving school at 16, and I still love vehicles and get excited when meeting the people who own them. Secondly nearly every week Bristol Caravans are presented with a problem, where someone else has already tried to fix the fault or a fault has occurred following a poor service.
Heads up. The leisure repair sector is unregulated. You can open a repair shop tomorrow or advertise as a “mobile engineer”, no one is going to stop you. I hope this article will provide some additional education, helping you make good, informed decisions.
There are lots of elements that go into making a workshop the right repairer for you. In fact, we might not even be the best repairer for you! But I hope the following article helps you understand more about servicing, enabling you to choose the right repairer.
I have been caravanning since 2003 and started Bristol caravans in 2012. There are currently three technically qualified (caravan, motorhome, campervan) bods in the business with a combined experience of 47 technical years, and if you expand that out to include automotive sector (car) knowledge, as well as leisure vehicles there are 123 years of experience in the business!
I guess what I’m trying to say is I’ve been around the block, I’ve seen a lot of things, however, every day is a school day, we are always learning, but you never know what is going to arrive at the workshop tomorrow.
There are a few different “services” that you should be aware of and consider for your motorhome’s “routine maintenance program”, these include:
Habitation Service (yearly)
Engine & Chassis Service (yearly or bi-annual, depending on mileage and base vehicle)
Cam Belt Replacement (usually around every 5 years, check your manual)
230v Periodic Inspection Report (PIR) or sometimes called EICR (every 3 years)
The price for each of these services will vary depending on the type of repairer, their skill set, equipment and facilities.
Repairers can be roughly divided into the following types…
Mobile Engineer – often not VAT registered (so you save the 20% VAT)
AWS NCC Approved Workshop or Specialist Repairer
At the time of writing (early 2022), the hourly labour rate in our area ranges from £40 to £110 / hour.
Each repairer has Strengths & Weaknesses:
The key skills, qualifications, and attributes you should be looking for include:
In an ideal world, your repairer also keeps records and can trigger a reminder for your services.
So the answer to the question: How much is a motorhome service really going to cost? It “depends” on the skill/experience of the technician, the type of business that is the best fit for you, and if you want all work to be completed by one repairer, where you develop a relationship over time.
We calculate our job prices based on time multiplied by the hourly rate. For a better understanding of our prices please contact us on 01454 612893 and we will be happy to talk them through with you!
We position ourselves just above the midpoint. We set out to deliver a great service for a fair price.
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of what to look for when choosing a repairer and how much service pricing can change depending on who you choose!
Here at Bristol Caravans, we aim to provide a solution to all your leisure vehicle needs…
A case study is probably a god way to discuss the benefits of a new Lithium Battery.
A new customer asked how we could breathe life into an older motorhome. A great question from the customer, but we needed a little more info, so asked about his aims, and how he would like to use his leisure vehicle. He said his hobby was visiting rural UK airfields, which do not have 230v hook-up electricity, to record small aircraft as they come and go.
The vehicle’s original set-up was basic, and the facilities on the airfield were limited, which meant he could only go away for one night at a time. So, to allow this customer to get the most out of his vehicle, we designed a Lithium battery system, that depending on use, could last up to 3 nights between mains charging via 230v hook-up. This allowed them to spend longer off-grid, and travel to airfields all around the UK.
Read our Lithium Top Tips article to get a better understanding of Lithium batteries and how to re-charge them.
Fancy spending time off-grid? Give us a call on 01454 612893 to see how a Lithium system could meet your needs and improve your leisure vehicle experience!
The image shows the installation of:
A neat job, everything you need in one box, plus a lithium battery.
The customer can now go off-grid with ease!
Contact us to find out more!
An inverter is used to convert your 12v into 230v. This is perfect for going off-grid as you do not have access to mains electricity hook-up.
In conjunction with your inverter, we recommend having a lithium battery. Due to inverters using a lot of energy, you must ensure you have a powerful battery. Having a lithium battery is the perfect solution because they have a higher energy density, a longer life, and the ability to maintain voltage even when heavily discharged.
Caravan and Motorhome owners use inverters because sometimes, they will want to power their 230v appliances without having to hook-up on mains electricity. An inverter allows you to do exactly this!
If you are uncertain whether you need an inverter or not, it is a good idea to calculate your daily amp hours.
To calculate your daily energy requirements, we have devised a helpful table to get you started. Make sure you consider the time of year you will be using your Caravan or Motorhome as this could affect how long you use each item.
|12v Appliance||Watts||Approx. Amps||How many?||Hours used per day||Ah/Day|
|Fridge controls (3 way)||5||0.4||1||24||10.0|
|Fridge Comprssor (50-70L)||45||3.8||1||24||90.0|
|Space Heater Fan||0||0.0||1||4||0.0|
|Water heater controls||0||0.0||1||4||0.0|
|Room heater controls||0||0.0||1||24||0.0|
|ALDE heater at 2KW||2000||166.7||1||4||666.7|
If you have any further questions regarding inverters, please go to our Contact Us page, or call 01454 612893.
Automotive experts agree that Brake Fluid should be changed regularly as a part of normal routine service. Not all manufacturers mention Brake Fluid in their scheduled maintenance recommendations, those that do, recommend fresh Brake Fluid approximately every 2 years or 24,000 miles, your motorhome probably cover less than 12,000 miles per year, so when was the last time your motorhome benefitted from some new Brake Fluid?
The tech bit…
Brake Fluid is a safety-critical subject, how important are the people onboard your vehicle? Most people don’t know why Brake Fluid should be changed, well Brake Fluid is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, why is that of interest I hear you ask… well, the water travels around your brake system and causes a few problems. The first and probably most worrying is the loss of Brakes! When the moisture in the fluid is heated it turns to steam (a gas), this happens in the areas where your Brakes get hot, how hot do your front brakes get? Have you seen Brakes glowing red after a long downhill journey, it’s usually after a hill or a journey where you have been using your brakes, steam in the Brake Fluid means your Brake pedal becomes spongy, as you are compressing a gas (steam) rather than a fluid.
In addition, over time the moisture can cause internal corrosion in the Brake lines, callipers, the master cylinder and other components. Brake Fluid is responsible for moving the various components of your vehicle’s braking system. If you drive 10,000 miles a year you will apply the brakes about 75,000 times a year! Best you have
Fancy new Brake Fluid for your motorhome or campervan?
Just call, email or click HERE to make an online equiry.
Are you planning to take your Caravan, Motorhome or Campervan off-grid?
Fancy going off-grid, but a little nervous?
Need your leisure battery to last the whole trip?
If you are a keen explorer, Bristol Caravans want to ensure you get the most out of your Caravan, Motorhome or Campervan.
If you are considering installing an inverter, battery charger, or solar panel, contact us and request our short questionnaire to help us identify exactly what you need.
An example of an off-grid system:
Without having 230v mains electricity, you will need alternative power solutions in its place. In the example above there is:
Lithium Battery –
Unlike other batteries Lithium (Li-on) batteries can re-charge hundreds of times and remain stable. In conjunction with your inverter, we recommend having a lithium battery. Due to inverters using a lot of energy, you must ensure you have a powerful battery. Having a lithium battery is the perfect solution because they have a higher energy density, a longer life, and the ability to maintain voltage even when heavily discharged.
B2B Charger –
A battery-to-battery (B2B) charger charges your leisure battery whilst the engine is running. It also takes spare energy (supplied by the alternator) from the starter battery and uses it to charge the auxiliary battery / batteries in the same way that a 230v smart charger would.
B2B chargers are the perfect feature to an off-grid system. It not only ensures your leisure battery / batteries are fully charged, but prolongs their working life.
Solar Panel –
Solar panels are simple, the more light, the more power produced!
A Solar Panel is ideal for trickle charging your leisure battery. A charged leisure battery will power all of your 12v appliances. This includes your lighting, and water pump. Accessories can be run off the 12v system, however accessories will increase the rate at which the battery drains.
If you would like an estimate, please go to our contact page or phone 01454 612893.
There are two ways you can trip the electrics,
2. You have an Earth Fault
The last thing you want to do on holiday is trip your electrics, and potentially your neighbours! To avoid this, keep reading for our helpful tips and advice on your Caravan or Motorhomes electrics.
What does it mean to overload your electrics?
By overloading the 230v system in your vehicles electrics, this means the appliances your using are trying to take more power than the system is designed to handle, causing a trip.
This kind of trip is controlled by your MCBs (miniature circuit breakers). An MCB is like a fuse, when it is overloaded, they trip. Within your vehicle you will have up to three MCBs, each feeding on its own circuit. Unless an individual circuit is overloaded, they are unlikely to trip.
As an example, say you have your electric kettle, a hairdryer, a microwave, and your mobile phone charging all at once this might cause your electrics to trip!
What is an earth fault trip?
An earth fault trip is instant (think milliseconds) and can save your life!
The power flow of the neutral and live wire, if in working order, should be identical. The current should flow down one wire and return via the other to power your appliances. If an earth fault was to occur, some of those currents leak away to the earth creating an imbalance. This imbalance is noticed by your RCD which will go on to trip the supply.
An RCD (residual current device) is a safety device which should be installed in every motorhome or caravan by law. It quickly breaks an electrical circuit to protect equipment and reduce the risk of an electric shock.
If you cannot identify the cause of an earth fault, do not continue to try to use the vehicles hook-up. The most important advice here is to get your caravan or motorhome electrics looked at by a qualified electrician.
Your RCD should be checked once a year within your annual service.
To book your appointment, call Bristol Caravans on 01454 612893 or go to our contact page by clicking here.
Nobody wants to go back to a smelly toilet in their Caravan or Motorhome. Bristol Caravans is here to provide helpful tips all year round to keep your toliet fresh and ready to go.
Flushing the Top Tank –
Before tucking your Caravan or Motorome away over the winter season, make sure you flush the top tank with clean water. You do NOT want to leave any resedue of chemical in the system as it will crystalise. Once crystalised your flush pump will seize, and you will have to pay for a replacement.
Maintaining the Cassette seal –
The lip seal on your toilet cassette can get dry over time. To prevent it getting dry, Thetford supply the “Seal Lubricant” spray. Spray the lubricant on your cassettes seal throughout your summer season ensuring it is lubricated.
If you do not lubricate the seal, a replacement is estimated to be £15.50 plus fitting.
Cleaning the holding tank –
Is your final holiday in the diary? If so, before the last journey home fill your Motorhomes, or Caravans tank with cleaner. On the drive home the tank cleaner will swill around the entire basin, once home or in storage, empty its contents. Now your holding tank will be clean and ready to go next season.
How to store my toilet cassette over winter –
Over the winter it is a good idea to remove the toilet cassette. Although it can be left within its locker, over time a damp atmosphere is created causing the wiring loom to corrode. Once the wiring loom is corroded, your toilet pump will fail.
To avoid this, remove the toilet cassette over the winter. Clean the locker thoroughly, and leave a damp absorber inside. This will ensure the locker is dried out, and minimal water and / or chemicals a reach the wiring loom.
Should I put toilet chemical in the holding tank, or down the toilet basin?
Here at Bristol Caravans, we believe it is not necessary to have toilet chemical in the toilet flush. It is only necessary to put chemical into the waste holding tank which you empty when full.
Think of it this way, your toilet flush at home is clean water, therefore why should our Caravan flushes have chemical in?
“Nowadays, many motorhomes no longer have a dedicated flush water tank for the toilet, but they use fresh water from the central water tank. In that case, you can’t use a flush water additive.
Some users of our toilets prefer to add the waste-holding tank additive via the toilet bowl, instead of via the pour-out spout, as is recommended in the toilet user manual and on the bottle label. To be perfectly clear, there is no benefit in doing it this way, but it may be more convenient for some people.”
Here at Bristol Caravans, we offer servicing and repairs on Caravans, Motorhomes and Campervans. Included within our services is always a thorough damp report, inspecting a vehicles walls, floors, and the areas surrounding doors and windows.
Here is an example of a customer’s damp report, with high readings:
This customer had left personal belonging in the vehicles rear garage. This meant the technician was unable to get an accurate damp reading and complete a full, detailed report. Upon further inspection, damp was identified to the NSR and OSR floor.
Noted by the technician was,
– Damp around the front interface panels.
– Damp around the NS forward window.
– Damp to the NSR and OSR floor.
When completing a damp report, readings between 0-15% are dry. Looking at this report, the customer had readings between 20 and 90%, this indicated the Motorhome had serious signs of damp.
Damp Readings recorded 19.03.21:
NSF Floor 90%
OSF Floor 90%
NSF Roof 65%
NSR Under floor ply soft
OSR Under floor ply soft
NSF Window 50%
Prior to handover, the director and technicians work together to complete an estimate for the work needed to rescue the Motorhome. Although the customer has been made aware damp has been found, a one to one was organised to explain the damage and repair in detail.
We built the following estimate.
Remove rear bumper, NS & OS skirts.
Reseal skirt and bumper brackets.
Replace sections of under floor ply to NSF and OSF corners and rear floor section.
Replace NSF window rubber and insert.
Remove NSF and OSF interface panels, investigate damage under interface panels.
Chemically clean parts, and re-build with new sealer.
Parts: Sealant / Panel Glue
Window Seals X8
Although a large estimate, the customer made the decision to go ahead and save their Motorhome. The repair was completed over two weeks to ensure there was enough time to fully strip, clean, and repair the damp.
First, both front interface panels, and all lower skirts are removed to reveal the soft wood. Over time, water ingress has caused the wood to rot. Before any repairs can go ahead, all rotten wood must be removed and cleaned.
Once all areas had been chemically cleaned, the technician got to work replacing the old ply and timber. Using G clamps, new parts were glued using a specific panel adhesive and left overnight to dry. This was completed on the NSF and OSF interface panels, the NSR and OSR flooring, and the NSF and OSF floor.
After replacing all the rotten wood, a wood preserver and underseal is applied. An underseal is a additional product applied to wooden floor panels to giving a layer of extra protection to the surfaces you do not see.
As you can see in these photos, the ply is now black.
After everything is completely dry, all the motorhome skirts were re-secured and joints over sealed. The final stage was to re-attach the bumper and ensure all rear lights were working.
Forty hours later the workshop completed the repair; the owner of the motorhome agreed date and time of collection for a handover.
Bristol Caravans are here to help you make your Caravan or Motorhome cool and comfortable through the summer months. It is important we make the most of the summer season
Blocking the sunlight from entering your Caravan or Motorhome keeps the air inside from heating up. Although a simple trick, it can be very effective! Next time you go to the beach for the day, leave all curtains and blinds closed, and return to a cooler vehicle.
On a scoldering hot day, light up the BBQ and cook outside. Using your Caravan or Motorhome hob and oven will produce heat, creating a stuffy environment.
If possible, choose a pitch next to bushy trees and hedges to ensure your Caravan or Motorhome is sat in the shade. It isn’t always possible to choose your pitch but plan ahead of time and submit a request to the CL site – you could get lucky!
Do you want cold air produced inside your Caravan or Motorhome?
At Bristol Caravans we can supply and fit air conditioning. Installed to the roof of your vehicle, the aircon distributer is flat against the ceiling, causing no obstruction, only cool, refreshing air!
Not enough space on the roof of your vehicle for an Aircon?
Want cool air whilst being off-grid?
The Maxxfan can keep the air moving around the vehicle, even the hottest days! This creates a constant cooling, refreshing breeze. As well as bringing air into the vehicle, when the fan is reversed, air will be sucked out.
Fitting into a standard 40 x 40 roof light space, and running on 12V, a Maxxfan can be used while the vehicle is stationary or in motion.
Using a remote control, the fan speed can be adjusted, and the top of the unit opened and closed. If you should lose the remote control, the Maxxfan can still be operated using a control panel built into the unit.
Want to discuss your Caravan and Motorhome cooling options?
Give us a call on 01454 612893 or go to our Contact page and tell us what we can do to help.
There are a few items to consider when thinking about a new solar panel:
What type of leisure battery are you going to charge, and how many amps can it take when being charged?
Only a Lithium battery can accept more than 10 amps, therefore if you have “standard” leisure batteries i.e. Lead Acid, Gel or AGM you should aim for a max or 10 amps charging.
To put 10 amps into context, solar panels are usually sold based on a Watts rating. A 120w Solar Panel in theory without any loss, will give 10 amps, in reality it is probably going to provide 7 amps. Therefore a 120w solar panel is an ideal solution for standard batteries, if you are thinking about Lithium battery upgrade, discuss the solar panel options with your trusted workshop.
How much space on the roof of your caravan, motorhome, campervan
Space is the key to all leisure vehicles, we all seek big inside spaces, with minimal outside impact. An 8m long, 2m wide caravan will have a larger roof area than a Fiat Ducato based campervan.
To some extent the size of your vehicle, roof lights / appliances fitted will determine the space available for one or more solar panels. Aim for a minimum of 120w if you have the space and are running standard batteries.
The leisure battery will power all 12v appliances including your lighting, and water pump! It needs to be above 11 volts for appliances to work.
Lithium batteries require little maintenance. Simply remove after a season and store in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. Ensure it is left at a minimum of 50% charge. It is not a requirement out of season to keep the battery on charge.
Unlike other batteries Lithium (Li-on) batteries can re-charge hundreds of times and remain stable.
Need help choosing the right battery?
If you can email us a list of appliances in your caravan, motorhome, or camper van, we can estimate the power needed for your caravan and recommend battery options.
If you are considering a new Habitation Battery, please give us a call with your vehicle’s Make, Model, Age, and information on the current Leisure Battery fitted.
Want to find out more about Lithium, visit our Lithium Top Tip article.
Call today on 01454 612893
The electrical installation condition report (EiCR) identifies damage, deterioration and defects which may cause danger within your Caravan, Motorhome or Camper van.
It is a safety check of the 230v mains electrical wiring, switches, and appliances in your Caravan, Motorhome or Camper van.
Bristol Caravans are trained, qualified and have the correct kit to complete this important safety check.
The testing process involves the wiring and accessories undergoing several, and rigorous, electrical tests using:
– digital RCD tester
– a digital clamp meter
– a digital insulation / continuity tester
Problems discovered during the inspection and test can be remedied, or recommendations given to improve the safety of the electrical installation.
Once completed you will receive an electrical safety report summarising the condition of wiring, and all appliance test results. It must be completed and signed off by an electrically qualified technician.
Within a Habitation Service (Motorhome or Camper Van) or Full Service (Caravan), a tech will visually check 230v appliances, and 230v cables. During a EiCR test, appliances are disconnected, and 230v cables that are hidden in walls, floor and furniture are tested. The EiCR tests the parts of your 230v system that are unseen, as well as the items listed below.
Although an EiCR is not a mandatory test, it is recommended by the National Caravan Council (NCC) that it is completed every 3 years.
Over time the wiring in your Caravan, Motorhome or Camper van will begin to deteriorate, which will eventually affect the performance of all 230v appliances. In more serious cases, it can lead to a harmful reduction in the safety of the electrical installation.
If you have any questions regarding an EiCR test on your Caravan, Motorhome or Camper van please give us a call or drop us a line.
We want you to enjoy your leisure vehicle and have lots of safe fun holidays.
Need help choosing the right battery?
If you can email us a list of appliances in your caravan, motorhome, or camper van, we can estimate the power needed for your caravan and recommend a few battery options.
If you are considering a new Habitation Battery, please give us a call with your vehicle’s Make, Model, Age, and information on the current Leisure Battery fitted.
The leisure battery will power all 12v appliances including your lighting, and water pump!
Accessories can be run off the 12v system, however accessories will increase the rate at which the battery drains. The higher the amp, the faster the battery is drained.
The three main types of leisure battery are:
Unlike other batteries Lithium (Li-on) batteries can re-charge hundreds of times and remain stable. It is not a requirement out of season to keep the battery on charge.
Any battery you decide to buy will not last forever and its life will depend on how well it is maintained and how often it is used.
Owners often compare batteries by their capacity which is measured in Amp hours (Ah). However, a batteries life expectancy is based on how many times it can be recharged. Consider both capacity and recharge cycle when comparing options.
Battery capacity is labelled in ampere-hours (Ah). You can calculate your battery usage with the length of time the caravan will be in use, and the number of active appliances.
Here is an example table showing approximate Ah each appliance uses.
|Appliance||Watts||Amps||Number||Use in hours||Ah|
|Water Heater controls||0.1||1||12||1.2|
|Space Heater Fan||1.0||1||9||9.0|
Amps i.e., 59.3 amps per day
Lithium batteries require little maintenance. Simply remove after a season and store in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. Ensure it is left at a minimum of 50% charge.
AGM batteries must not be stored in a discharged state; this will cause sulfation. Alike all other batteries, store in a cool dry place with ventilation.
Lead-Acid batteries should be re-charged after use. Ideally check every two months and re-charge if necessary, to ensure long and trouble-free battery life. A battery left below 12.4 V will deteriorate quickly and will not be able to return to its original capacity.
If you are considering a new Habitation Battery, please give us a call with your vehicle’s Make, Model, Age, and information on the current Leisure Battery fitted.
Do you ever feel your Caravan moving side to side on a long journey?
Worried you can’t control it whilst driving?
Don’t worry, this is exactly what your ATC is for!
An ATC light, also known as the Automatic Trailer Control, is the AL-KO anti-snaking device.
The point of the ATC is to assist the driver should the caravan encounter strong winds, overtaking, or sudden braking traffic.
The ATC tracks movement. Once a considerable movement is detected, the ATC automatically applies all caravan brakes. This results in the caravan stabilising itself without disturbing the driver.
AL-KO compare the ATC to an ABS system on cars, and how it is only used in rare situations.
You will know your ATC is working once you have connected the 13-pin plug from your car and turned the engine on. At first you should see the LED flashing green; this signals the ATC is active. The LED will stop flashing and go block green once you are moving.
No, the ATC brakes the caravan softly without activating the lights.
At the time of connection, you should hear the ATC perform a self-test. Considering this goes ahead, the ATC should still be working. Explanations why the LED is not working could be:
If the LED fails to come on you should contact Bristol Caravans on 01454 612893 to book an investigation.
If the ATC shows red you may need to rest the system.
To reset, unplug the unit from the car and leave for 10 seconds. Reconnect the unit and allow the ATC to perform its self-test. The light should show flashing green.
*Please note resetting the system only clears minor errors. If the light fails to return to green, please call Bristol Caravans for further advice.
The flashing red light indicates the system has turned itself off due to an internal fault. Considering a fault, you will need to take the caravan to an AL-KO qualified dealer to determine the fault.
Before towing the caravan to your dealer, you will need to ensure the brakes are not applied. The simplest way to do this is to see if you can push the caravan. If you can, then the brakes are not applied. If you cannot, you must disconnect the push rod. This will return the brakes to working order without the ATC being active.
Should you have any more questions regarding your AL-KO ATC system, go to the AL-KO website at:
Or contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
First things first…
Make sure your WHALE pump is securely attached and locked into position.
Is your 12v power supply working?
Assuming your caravan / motorhome has a charged battery, and all the appropriate fuses are intact, the power to run a water pump’s motor is usually activated at the 12V control panel.
Now your pump is in the correct position, go inside your caravan / motorhome and check the control panel. It should look something like this:
All switches should be in the on position. If your control panel presents a fault code,
please call us on 01454 612893 to diagnose the fault.
Once your pump is secure and the control panel is on, locate the pump controller (this is located inside the caravan / motorhome in the same location as the exterior pump).
To reset, press and hold the calibration button for 1 – 3 seconds until a green LED light begins to flash.
Open the cold shower and the pump should start! Do not worry if there is a short delay .
If you would like to reset the pump, continue with this process:
After 30 seconds, turn the shower off (the pump should still be running). Press and hold the calibration button again until the green LED stops flashing. The pump will stop after approximately 10 seconds.
Now, the green LED will turn off and continue to flash as it did before. Your WHALE water pump and system is now reset! You should only need to reset if you use a different pump.
Make sure you leave your water pump inside your caravan / motorhome for its annual service. Routine servicing is essential to ensure that your water pump works as it should.
If you have any enquiries regarding your Caravan or Motorhomes water system, please contact us on 01454 612893 or email us at email@example.com
You have arrived on site, switched on your water pump and now water is leaking from underneath your Caravan or Motorhome.
Where is the leak coming from?
It is most likely coming from your drain valve!
Your drain valve allows for excess water to escape the Caravan / Motorhome. You would most commonly open the valve when draining down for the winter period. Find out why this is important on our ‘Winterisation’ post below.
Where is the drain valve in my Caravan / Motorhome?
Look under your sofa cushions, at the bottom of the wardrobe, bottom cupboards, and underneath the bed. You are looking for a little yellow tap. You can find it by following the water hoses.
Is your drain valve in the closed position?
The easiest way to remember whether you drain valve is open or closed is:
If you have anymore questions regarding a water leak, please contact us on 01454 612893 or go to our Contact page – Contact Us
The last thing you want is to arrive on site and your electrics do not work.
As soon as you get on site, follow these steps and you will be sat back relaxing in no time!
First you want to plug in your 230V hook up cable into the mains electric supply. Next, connect your Caravan or Motorhome.
Using the mains socket tester, insert the tester into a socket and turn on. The tester will indicate where / what the fault is:
If the tester indicates a fault, do not use the socket or supply. Consult someone who works on site or call an electrician.
Have you checked all the switches in your consumer unit?
Make sure all switches are on and nothing has tripped.
Still not working?
Call us on 01454 612893 during our open hours.
Monday to Friday 8:30AM – 5:00PM
Saturday 9:00AM – 1:00PM
We are happy to help!
Here at Bristol Caravans, we book your Motorhome or Camper van’s MOT with the additional charge for collection and delivery. Before completing your MOT, our technicians complete a visual pre-check including all exterior lights.
An MOT (Ministry of Transport) is a test to check the general health of your Motorhome. Although your Motorhome may seem in working order, it must meet the DVSA’s legal safety and environmental standards.
The MOT must be carried out by a vehicle technician with an MOT qualification, and they must be in possession of specific testing equipment.
It is compulsory for every vehicle to have its MOT once a year. An MOT is a legal requirement to ensure your Motorhome is roadworthy and safe to use.
If your Motorhome is brand new, the first MOT should be carried out on the third anniversary of its registration date.
An MOT lasts for one year. To find your next MOTs due date, you can look on your previous years certificate. You can also go to the GOV website and enter your registration, https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history
The DVSA do not remind you of your MOT renewal date. If you book your MOT here at Bristol Caravans, we can send you a free reminder a month prior.
If your MOT expires you can be fined up to £1000!
The main difference is that an MOT is compulsory! The MOT checks the general health of your Motorhome and its parts ensuring it meets the DVSAs legal safety and environmental requirements. Within a Service, your Motorhome will undergo a thorough check of all interior and exterior components including LPG appliances, electrics, and water / waste system.
You can find out more on Motorhome Servicing here:
If your Motorhome fails, its MOT you will be given a list of advisories. These advisories must be fixed before going for a re-test otherwise you will fail again! At Bristol Caravans we must take your Motorhome for a re-test within 10 working days after its MOT failure.
If possible, we will provide an estimate for the repairs and complete them within the time scale.
One of the most common reasons for an MOT failure is lights. Checking all your lights and indicators are in working order before your MOT is good practice. If we notice a bulb is out, we will be happy to change it.
Another quick check to carry out is to look at your wiper blades. It isn’t often we think to change our wiper blades, but they are an important feature for road safety in bad weather.
It is also important to check your tyre pressure. Maintaining your tyre pressures will maintain the condition of your tyres. It is recommended a Motorhomes tyres are changed every 7 years!
Need help booking an MOT?
Go to our Contact Us page and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
How often should you clean your Caravan / Motorhome?
We recommend giving your vehicle at least two deep washes a year. One at the start of your holiday season, and one at the end.
Of course, whilst your Caravan / Motorhome are in storage it will gather dirt, algae, and moss; making it harder to clean. If you regularly give it a wash over, the easier and quicker your seasonal washes will be.
Should I wash my Caravan / Motorhome with Hot Water?
It is important to bear in mind you Caravan, or Motorhome is made of up many plastic components. Using very hot water could misshapen or deform plastic parts as well as rubber seals used in various places on your Motorhome / Caravan.
To avoid damage, use lukewarm water to loosen the dirt and begin the cleaning process. There are cleaning products to add ease to loosen the dirt further.
What Products should I use to clean my Caravan / Motorhome?
All you need to clean your Caravan / Motorhome is:
We recommend using “Fenwick’s Concentrate Caravan Cleaner” to start the process. It will help remove black streaks and algae without any harsh abrasives. This is key when cleaning your vehicle due to avoiding any stickers or paint peeling off.
AutoGlym also have a great Motorhome and Caravan cleaner alternative.
To finish your big clean, we advise a protective coat (Bobby Dazzler by Fenwick’s). Not only will your vehicle be squeaky clean, but it will repel water and dirt making it easier to clean next time!
Cleaning the Roof of a Caravan / Motorhome:
The best place to start when cleaning a motorhome is the roof. You do not want to get the sides clean to then have the dirt on the roof run down the sides!
To add ease to cleaning your roof, ensure you have a safe ladder (or someone to spot you), and an extendable brush hose connection. Not only will cleaning be easier, but a little faster with the assistance of the brush.
If you do not have the time or tools to clean your Motorhome or Caravan, we can provide a Wash & Wax here at Bristol Caravans. To find out more, go to our Cleaning Service Page: Bristol Caravans Wash & Wax
Things to keep in mind when cleaning your Caravan / Motorhome:
Nobody wants to come back to their Caravan or Motorhome after the winter break to see a damp patch. Although it is hard to identify when water ingress is happening, we have some helpful tips to prevent damp in your vehicle.
The three stages of damp to be aware of:
This is caused by damp air being trapped in a cupboard or room. The visual effects are mould on the walls or inside cupboards.
This is the main cause of Damp! Potentially coming from sealant failure, for example sealant cracking around a window, rooflight, or your awning rails.
Once the water ingress has moved inside, it can get into the fixtures and fittings inside your Caravan or Motorhome. This can lead to damaged wall boards and timber which make up the structure of your vehicle.
In the early stages you cannot smell or see water ingress. The only way to identify water getting in, is through a damp meter reading. At Bristol Caravans, when you book your annual service you will receive a full damp report.
To see exactly what we do in a Caravan or Motorhome service, please go to:
Motorhome Habitation – https://bristolcaravans.com/service-repair/habitation-service/
If you believe your vehicle has water ingress, we can carry out a full damp report for one hour’s labour. This is subject to the vehicle being empty of all personal belongings and seat cushions to ensure a thorough report.
We recommend a full damp report before any damp repair is carried out. From a report our technicians can provide a detailed estimate on the works needed to go ahead.
Here is an example of a damp report:
Are you concerned about Water Ingress & Damp?
Call us now on 01454 612893.
When you are at a campsite, the last thing you want is for your electricity to trip!
The kettle is boiling, kids are watching TV, food is heating in the microwave and it all comes to a halt. This article will help you to manage your electricity better and explain why your electricity may be tripping on your vacations.
There are two reasons why your electricity trips.
How to manage 230v Overloading
The trip switch is better known as “miniature circuit breakers” (MCBs). MCBs are like fuses in the sense that they can tolerate a small overload for a short period of time but will trip immediately with a large overload.
If you think of your house, you might have a rating of 80 or 100 amps. On a UK campsite it is usually a rating of 10 or 16 amps! With this lower amperage limit, you need to think before switching on all your appliances.
Here is a handy reference to give an approximate Amp rating for appliances that might be fitted into your caravan or motorhome:
Your 230v Appliances:
Fridge = 0.4 – 1.2A
Cooker Hob = 3.4A
Charger = 0.1 – 1.0A
Water Heater = 3.4A
TRUMA Combi E = 8.0A
ALDE = 3.0 – 13.0A
Please check your handbook to confirm the specific details for the appliances fitted to your vehicle.
Managing a situation where your RCD trips:
If your RCD trips, this is the signal for a potentially dangerous situation.
Remove everyone from your caravan or motorhome, remove the hook-up cable from the site post.
Contact the warden on site and seek professional advice.
How does an RCD system work?
You will have an RCD in your consumer unit & Earth cables throughout your vehicle.
The 230v flex in your vehicle has three core wires:
Brown / Live Wire = This carries the 230v current to an appliance.
Blue / Neutral Wire = Carries the current back from the appliance.
Yellow & Green / Earth Bonding = Your Protection!
If a live wire contacts an appliance or part, the part can become “live”, potentially causing an electric shock. The Earth system enables the live feed to
pass to Earth via the Yellow & Green wiring. When this happens the RCD will trip, indicating a serious fault.
In normal operation the current in the live and neutral wires should balance. The current level (measured in Amps) that flows down the live wire should return via the neutral wire from an appliance.
If current leaks away (ie goes to Earth), the RCD is triggered due to current imbalance. It is that imbalance sensed by the RCD, which then trips the supply, saving you from electrocution.
MCB Overload – Top Tips:
Before going away, look in your consumer box, identify your MCB’s.
Manage your 230v power consumption.
Items that produce heat use a lot more power! Think microwave, hairdryers, kettle…
Think 1000 watts equates to just over four amps at 230 volts!
RCD Trip – Top Tips:
Before going away, look in your consumer box, identify your RCD.
Connect to a 230v hook-up point, check that the test button next to your RCD works, and cuts the power.
A “live” wire fault will trip your RCD which can save you from an electric shock. For the RCD to do its job, the Earth cable system MUST be in an operational condition. This will be checked in your annual service or an EICR test (see more down below).
If you cannot identify and isolate the cause of an earth fault, do not continue to use the 230v hook-up.
The most important piece of advice here is to get your caravan or motorhome electrics checked by a qualified electrician.
Making sure your electrics are safe:
National Caravan Council (NCC), and The Electrical Safety Council recommend Caravans, Motorhomes and Camper Vans should undergo an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) every three years. As an Approved Workshop, Bristol Caravans are qualified to complete this work for you. We suggest you book your EICR alongside your service ensuring ultimate safety before your holidays!
If you have a question, problem, or would like more information on EICR please give us a call.
Contact us on 01454 612893 to book your EICR now!
You have just bought a new Caravan / Motorhome and want to make the most of it. Do not worry, we are here to make sure you are maintaining and making the most, during the ownership of your pride and joy.
Here are the Top 5 Tips for you to maintain your Caravan / Motorhome:
For you caravan owners it is important to book a service every year, ensuring all the water, gas, electrics, brakes, chassis, and A frame hitch assembly are checked thoroughly. Not only does this guarantee safety within your caravan but confirms it is all-in working order. You would not want to arrive on site to learn you have no hot water!
On the other hand, if you are a Motorhome owner not only will your Habitation Service (electrics, water, and gas) need servicing but the engine as well! Here at Bristol Caravans, we are a “one stop shop” offering an engine chassis service, habitation service, and MOTs. Just like your car, your Motorhome will need its oil and oil filter changed every year (or every 6000 miles). And a Full Service inc. Fuel and Air filters every other year.
Carrying out your annual services will not only preserve your Caravan or Motorhome, but it will also ensure safety, working appliances, and a successful holiday!
2. What is the Caravan / Motorhomes nightmare?
Damp (caused by either Water Ingress or internal Condensation)
Nobody wants to learn their vehicle has damp, especially if it new to you. Having an annual damp check alongside your service can prevent, or will flag up, any water ingress before it gets out of hand. Further ideas to avoid damp are:
If it is not being used for a long period of time, it is important in to increase ventilation. Leave the internal cupboard doors open and unblock any airways or vents to prevent condensation build up. Stand seat cushions up to increase air flow.
In the rainy months, try and keep your vehicle as dry as possible. This can be achieved easily with indoor storage or a breathable cover.
Although there is no guarantee your Caravan/ Motorhome will not get damp, arranging an annual damp check and these small measures can assist in prevention. It is important to also take note of your body warranty, and make sure you stay on top of it and book your yearly service within the T&Cs!
3. When was the last time your tyres were changed?
The NCC recommends the tyres on your Caravan / Motorhome need changing every seven years. It is also important to know that you should not use regular car wheels on your caravan / motorhome. This is due to the overall weight of the vehicles being heavier, therefore the wheels & tyres need to be strong to withhold the weight.
Although it is recommended you change the tyres every seven years, it is good to check for any signs of perishing, cracks in the side walls or suspicious bulges. If your tyres are showing any signs of damage they should be changed immediately, even if the tread is not worn!
4. Look after your Water System.
If you want to prevent damage to your water system it is important to keep it in good, working condition. What can go wrong?
5. Check your battery.
The last thing you want before going on holiday is a flat / dead leisure battery. If your battery is left to go completely flat, it can deteriorate to a point where it will not be able to be recharged / recover to its full capacity.
Solutions for keeping your battery in top condition are:
Cannot go on holiday without your bike?
Have difficulty lifting and loading the family’s bikes?
Update to a bike rack which best suits you and your Caravan/ Motorhome.
At Bristol Caravans we are here to help you find the best solution whether it is a new bike rack or electrical bike lift. Important things to keep in mind are, how many bikes do you have, where will the bike rack go, can my caravan/ motorhome withstand the weight?
Before you purchase a bike rack, we recommend a visit to our AWS approved workshop. Upon visit, we will make sure your vehicle is suitable for fitting, as well as giving you an estimate for how long it will take to fit.
We recommend FIAMMA Bike Racks.
In particular, the XLA Pro has improved functionality that provides stability and ease of use. With a hooking system that is easily manoeuvrable, this bike rack is sturdy and safe ensuring your bikes get to your holiday destination. The secure design also promises to minimise noise whilst travelling.
Upgrade your motorhome with the BR-Systems Bike Lift. Simply load your bikes at ground level and watch the lift do all the work for you.
Are you interested in a new bike rack/ lift?
Call us today on 01454 612893 or go to our Contact Page and complete the form.
Need a last-minute gift that is going to blow them away?
Here at Bristol Caravans’, we have come up with five quick, easy ideas to solve your Christmas Shopping quarrels. Already finished your Christmas Shopping? Then download this blog as a PDF for your fellow caravaners next Birthday or Event.
Spruce up your awning with FIAMMA’s adaptable accessories.
Does your kitchenette have a big enough worktop to make your favourite meals? Get a bespoke chopping board, made to fit over the sink of your Caravan or Motorhome. Not only will you have more workspace, but it would be a unique, personalised gift.
Decide the material, size, and engraving to make it extra special!
On holiday is when we get the time to sit back, relax, and read! Purchase your touring enthusiast a magazine subscription to magazines such as,
“Did you know?”
If you are a member of Amazon Prime, using their function ‘First Reads’ allows one free book or magazine per month! You can also subscribe and download magazines for free onto your kindle.
Similarly, there are many
Want to find some new sites to visit? Find a new active hobby?
There are plenty of books and journals discussing
A gift that inspires you to get ready for your next adventure and plan the ultimate itinerary.
It would also be a good idea to gift book on bike routes, where to paddle-board, and scenic walking routes. It is always exciting finding a new place and exploring what it has to offer!
Want to really treat someone this year?
Put together a fun and useful hamper for their Motorhome or Caravan. You can make it themed and include things such as,
Whatever you think your happy camper would appreciate most.
The ALDE Heating system for Caravans and Motorhomes works in a similar way to your central heating at home. The system heats a transfer liquid, which is pumped through convectors and pipes then back to the boiler.
The ALDE Heating system is very efficient, and only uses 1 amp when in operation!
The convectors are placed in an optimal position all along the walls of your leisure vehicle, providing an ideal barrier against the cold. As heat is pumped around the vehicle, hot air rises creating a circulation of heat throughout. Once risen, the air cools causing a process called self-convection.
All program settings can be made from the control panel, latest versions of the control panel also enable connectivity to your smart phone via an app. Using these tools allows for daytime and night-time programming.
ALDE use a specific type of glycol fluid in the system, which is similar to antifreeze. As the glycol fluid ages it becomes less effective. If not changed at the correct interval, your system could be at risk of permanent damage. The damage is usually to internal components, when the fluid becomes acidic, the acid corrodes aluminium components.
When first built, manufacturers fit Pink or Blue fluid. The blue glycol must be changed every two years. Alternatively, ALDE have produced a pink antifreeze which lasts up to five years – we highly recommend you change to pink.
Which colour liquid do you have?
Need to change your fluid? Call us today on 01454 612893 to get a quote.
To refill your ALDE system, you must first locate the header tank (usually located in the wardrobe or a cupboard). Remove the top part of the plastic covering the pipes and top up the fluid. If the system is hot/ warm the level should be under the maximum, and if cold, above the minimum. This ensures there is room for the fluid to expand.
Before topping up, check what colour fluid you have!
To bleed your ALDE system, you will require ALDE specialist tools. The tool provides pressure and a large reservoir outside the vehicle, pumping fresh fluid through the vehicle removing any excess air. You can sometimes bleed individual radiators through a bleed point, however if you have a fault, a full bleed is required using the specialist tool.
If you are experiencing a drop in fluid, you could have a leak. We recommend you check all rubber hose joints to aluminium pipe joints, and radiator points to identify the cause.
A quick and easy way to check for a leak is to leave a piece of kitchen roll under the suspect joint. The fluid will drip out, leaving a visible pink or blue stain!
There are two types of water used within the ALDE heating system.
The first is fresh water that is heated by the system and sits in the hot water tank. You can run the system without fresh water.
Second, is your coolant within the ALDE heating system, the coolant is a mixture of distilled water and glycol fluid. You can not run the system without this fluid.
For more information you can go to the ALDE website at,
Have a question, drop us an email or give us a call via our contact page,
What is Winterisation?
Winterisation is the Winter preperation for your Motorhome/ Caravan. Bristol Caravans have put together a check sheet of all the things your vehicle requires before it goes into hibernation this winter.
Watch out for ‘The First Frost’. Try to beat Jack Frost, by emptying your water system and any water tanks.
Why should your water system be emptied?
As temperatures get colder, water begins to freeze in the taps. As water freezes, it expands! If even the tiniest droplet of water was to expand in your pipework, the taps could begin to split. Split taps mean new taps, a repair you want to avoid.
In case you did not know, we offer a Winterisation service in our workshop – taking the pressure off you!
The Winterisation & Drain Down service includes:
Carrying out these actions will not only keep your vehicle in good condition for longer, but it will mean when you return in Spring, it will require less work.
Benefits of Winterisation:
Want to go the extra mile for Winter?
Give your Caravan/ Motorhome a Wash & Fenwick’s.
Giving your vehicle a final clean before it goes away for the winter can be extremely beneficial. Rather than a just Wash & Wax, we recommend a Wash & Fenwick’s Overwintering fluid. The Fenwick’s Overwinter product is formulated to protect caravans and motorhomes during winter storage. Its unique formula protects against algae, mould, fungus, airborne pollutants, acid rain and bird lime, to keep your vehicle protected throughout winter.
This treatment also means it will be easier to clean next spring!
You can grab yourself a bottle of Fenwick’s in our store or you can book the treatment with us. Keep your Caravan or Motorhome in great condition.
Now you and your vehicle should be prepared for the Winter season!
If you would like to enquire for any of these services, give us a call on 01454 612893 or go to our contact page https://bristolcaravans.com/contact-us/