2023 has been a fantastic year for touring holidays, and Ulwell Holiday Park is proud to have hosted a range of motorhomes and caravans throughout the season. The boiling British summer broke records, and we’re so happy you spent it with us at our Swanage holiday park.
After a successful year though, it will soon be time to close for a couple of months (close on 7th January), and prepare for the 2024 season… which is now open for bookings! Before you travel to Dorset for more fun next year though, it’s important to prepare your touring caravan for winter. Here are our top tips.
Importance of winter preparation
It might be tempting to simply put the caravan into storage and forget about it until next year. However, properly preparing your tourer for winter will reduce seasonal damage and prevent costly problems arising.
We’ve seen it all in our time hosting caravans, and our experience has taught us that taking a few steps to properly prepare your tourer for off season is absolutely necessary. As the saying goes:
“if you fail to plan you plan to fail”!
Storing your caravan
Most people choose to store a caravan at home or in a dedicated storage facility.
Storing your caravan at home may be the simpler option, but there are a few things to bear in mind. Parking under shelter is normally best, however be wary of leaving your tourer underneath a tree – branches, leaves, bird droppings and anything that can fall out of the sky are never good for your vehicle.
If deciding upon the latter, you can find caravan storage sites by contacting the Caravan Storage Site Owners Association (CaSSOA). The CaSSOA filters storage spaces by security provisions, so it’s easy to see the facilities you’ll have access to during your stay. Some sites offer CCTV, perimeter fencing and alarm systems for added peace of mind.
Wherever you choose to store your caravan, it is important you fully secure it, so you can rest assured your vehicle is safe. Firstly, check with your insurance company what securing devices are required on your plan. We highly recommend hitch locks and wheel clamps if these conform with your policy – they act as visual deterrents too.
Make sure you visit it from time to time (you many need to arrange a convenient time with the storage facility in advance). If possible, open the windows and rooflights briefly to allow fresh air to circulate.
Leave the handbrake off
It is universally recommended that you leave your handbrake off if parking up for a long period of time, unless you are parking on a hill with a quite a decline/incline. ‘Chock’ the wheels with heavy objects like bricks on both side of each wheel to make sure it doesn’t roll forward/back.
Leaving your handbrake on for prolonged periods can cause your braking system to seize up, which means you will be unable to unlock it without assistance when you come to use it again. If you are unable to leave your handbrake off, it is recommended that you take it off briefly once a week.
Draining the water system
To protect your caravan from frost damage, you should completely drain your water system. Even a little bit of water in a pipe can turn into a costly fix.
Here is the general drain down procedure. Before following, you should refer to your touring caravan’s manual:
- Open the drain valves and take out all drainage plugs (don’t lose them!)
- Empty all of the taps. If your caravan has mixer taps, keep the level central to ensure that both hot and cold water drains
- Remove the shower head and shake out residual water
- Drain the internal water tank (if your caravan has one)
- If you have an on-board pump, you should run it for a short while to drain it
- Drain portable water containers
Finally, an effective way to achieve a full drain down is to empty your water system on the last day on site, then tow home with draining points open. Be mindful that discharging water on the motorway is illegal, though.
Exterior inspection and treatment
You should take some time to clean your caravan. Not only will removing dirt decrease deterioration of paintwork, but walking around the caravan will give you a chance to make sure everything is in good working order. After cleaning your caravan, it is highly recommended that you apply a protective layer.
Make sure you use caravan-friendly cleaning and protection products. At minimum, a caravan shampoo should be applied. All-in-one Wash and Wax is also brilliant, but the best protection comes from applying polish after carrying out the previous steps. A range of caravan cleaning products are available on the market.
Winter is a great time to assess the tread on your tyres, and replace in preparation for the following season if need be. Either way, if your caravan will remain static for the winter months, it is recommended you turn the wheels every six to eight weeks. Tyres don’t like sitting on the same thread for long periods of time.
You should also raise the pressure to reduce the chances of the types becoming misshapen (just remember to check the recommended pressure before driving it).
You might also want to consider a wheel saver, which alleviates pressure on your tyres.
Examine the electric connectors between the car and the caravan for any signs of damage or wear. You should also wipe electrical ports with lubricants like petroleum jelly or WD-40.
Decide whether you want to remove batteries, or keep in the caravan. If you choose the latter, the battery should maintain fully charged and isolated from 12V equipment. Ensure everything that might drain the battery is turned off (TV aerial in cupboard etc.).
We recommend disconnecting the battery and charging it periodically, perhaps every 6 weeks or so.
When preparing your caravan for winter storage you must ensure that the gas valves on top of the cylinders are in the closed position. If you have clip-on style regulators, they should be disconnected from the cylinders and caps or rags are fitted over open pipework.
If you decide to store your caravan in a unit, check what their gas cylinder policies are. Cylinders should always be stored at least two metres from open drains, openings to cellars and buildings.
There’s nothing worse than opening up for the new season and realising the toilet is dirty and/or not working. It’s best to give your on-board toilet a thorough clean before closing up for the season to ensure it’s ready for your next trip.
- Thoroughly drain and clean cassette toilets
- Use the draining tube to flush out the water tank
- Clean and wipe the seals with lubricant
Tip: to remove black bits that may build up in the flush tank, pour 100ml of bleach into 10L of water (1 to 100 ratio for different capacities), fill tank, leave for 24 hours then drain before putting fresh water in there. Then, fill the tank with fresh water and drain after 5 minutes. Repeat this final step until no trace of bleach remains.
Covering up your caravan
To offer more protection for your caravan and make the cleaning job easier when the spring comes, we recommend a breathable cover. We recommend investing in the best you can afford at the time.
If you are planning on covering your tourer over the spring and summer, consider getting a light-coloured cover which will reduce heat build-up.
Note: you should always clean your caravan before covering for winter. Also make sure the cover is clean inside to avoid scratches and dirt build up.
We hope you’ve found our guide on preparing your caravan for winter helpful and that you’ll be able to put it into use this year. If you get stuck, or require more information, please consult your caravan’s manual. It will contain advice relating to your specific model and spec.
Use the winter down time to get your caravan serviced by an approved service centre – it’s always useful to have a professional give it the once over. We would hate for your next trip to Ulwell to be mudded by mechanical issues with your tourer.
Plan a Swanage Caravan Holiday in 2023
We appreciate all that came to see us in 2022, and sincerely hope you had a lovely time at our home in the heart of Swanage! If you enjoyed your stay, we would truly be thankful if you could leave us a review!
In the meantime, the winter is the perfect time to start planning your touring caravan break in Swanage for 2023. As you’ll know Ulwell is a popular, family friendly holiday park with excellent facilities for caravans and motorhomes and we can’t wait to welcome you back.