As we’re one of the country’s leading motorhome dealers, is hardly surprising that we are often asked for tips and suggestions about choosing and using a motorhome.

Here are just a few of the ideas we have offered over the years. We offer them again in the hope that you, too, might find them useful.

Take the time to choose a motorhome that’s appropriate for you

Your aim, of course, is to choose a motorhome that is the right size for you and its intended use. If it turns out to be just too big or too small – or any other fault for that matter – it can be a serious annoyance and potentially a poor use of your money. So, choose carefully by taking your time and remembering that nine times out of ten there is absolutely no need to rush.

Take as long as you need to size up what is a varied, diverse, and competitive market, therefore, to choose the vehicle that’s likely to prove appropriate for you, your family, and your lifestyle.

We make no secret of the fact that we’d be delighted to help you in achieving just that excellent result!

Think about how you plan to use your motorhome – and where

Motorhomes are nothing if not versatile and adaptable – they’ll take you to those parts many other vehicles simply cannot reach.

It’s only realistic to accept that some of the smallest campsites in remote, rural, or especially wild locations that are well off the beaten track may be difficult to access if yours is one of the larger or heavier motorhomes available on the market.

Some of the campsites identified by the Cool Camping website as “almost wild” might give you a snapshot of the wilder side of adventures you could get up to in your motorhome.

The upshot, of course, is that if you have your heart set on getting off the beaten track, then a smaller motorhome might be more practical.

Get the family involved in your choice

Whether you are buying a new or a pre-loved motorhome, the financial outlay will be nothing to sneeze at. It’s the kind of sum you’d almost certainly want to discuss with your partner or spouse – and, possibly, even any grown-up children still at home.

Involve the whole family not just in the choice of your preferred make and model, but also about such details as the appropriate interior layout or even the powertrain of that particular vehicle.

To help you in any such family discussion, we can point you in the direction of our helpful guide: Buying the right motorhome.

Consider driver training – and break yourself in gently on your very first trip

You’ll need to make sure that you have the appropriate licence allowing you to drive the motorhome you’re thinking to buy. The official website compiled by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is the place to start, of course, but if you’d like further help about what that all entails, by all means, please contact us and we’ll happily explain.

With the appropriate driving licence in your pocket, it might be time to consider some basic training in driving a vehicle as big as your new motorhome and familiarise yourself with the controls. Suitable training is unlikely to be all that expensive.

Finally, even if you’re an experienced old hand in driving a motorhome, almost every vehicle handles and performs differently from another. It’s probably a good idea to make your first trip in your new motorhome a short one – on which to learn its handling characteristics.

Plan a few journeys based largely around bigger roads and motorhome parks with good access and turning facilities. Avoid trying to test your close manoeuvring and reversing skills in a tiny site on your very first trip.

Don’t skimp on motorhome insurance

Your motorhome, its accessories, and all your camping gear will be expensive.

As with almost all forms of insurance, the cover provided by one policy might be significantly different from that offered by another. It’s not a question of being better or worse but simply the suitability of a particular policy for you, your motorhome, and the way you plan to use it.

For that reason alone, you might want to avoid choosing the cheapest insurance policy and instead spend some time researching which motorhome insurance offers the most cost-effective cover for the level of protection you need. That is the way you might be assured of getting good value for money.

Head over to our motorhome insurance guide which discusses how to choose the most appropriate insurance for you as well as covering the possibility of GAP insurance and breakdown insurance.

Research the rules of the road when going abroad

Over the last 30-40 years, most rules of the road have more or less converged throughout continental Europe.

Nevertheless, significant differences remain and the UK’s departure from the EU has thrown some of the details into starker relief – against a background of practices that might catch out the unwary.

Two examples of lingering divergence, for example, are the “priority to the right even if a minor road” and some old “priority to vehicles that are joining the roundabout” systems which are still fairly widely found in France.

Even if you know these from car driving, remember that your braking distances will be longer in a motorhome – because it’s a heavier vehicle.

As always, the bottom line of any advice on driving abroad is to research in advance the road systems in the country you’re heading off to in that new motorhome! You might also want to review our guide: Taking your motorhome to Europe.

If you’ve been bitten by the bug, then sooner or later you’ll be thinking about buying a motorhome – whether it’s new or one that’s pre-loved.

Here, we offer our tips about buying a motorhome – together with some thoughts and suggestions about driving it when you’re sitting behind the wheel of your very own home away from home for the first time.

Stating the obvious

Buying a motorhome is exciting! More often than not, it’s a case of a dream come true.

Without wanting to put any kind of damper on that wonderful feeling, the purchase invariably represents a major financial commitment. To state the obvious, you’ll be taking the purchase very seriously indeed – and our following tips are offered in full recognition of that fact.

Research and research again

You might have to rein in the sheer enthusiasm to prevent your eagerness from getting the better of you. Beware of being pressured into over-hasty buying decisions.

Remember, too, that buying a motorhome isn’t just about price and fittings. Many other things need to be considered including:

  • likely fuel consumption;
  • inevitable rate of depreciation;
  • reliability of your chosen vehicle; and
  • ease of re-sale.

You’ll not want to make these kinds of judgements based upon a single motorhome that has attracted your interest and give the necessary considerations just a spare 5-10 minutes of your time. Instead, put some serious time to one side and research the market and your options thoroughly.

How are you going to use it?

It’s highly advisable to sit down and think seriously about how your motorhome will fit into your recreational plans. That might sound glaringly obvious, but a little more thought might show you the value of doing so.

For example, do you see yourself:

  • taking very extended holidays in the motorhome;
  • using it overseas;
  • inviting others, such as family members, to join you on trips at times; or
  • taking a lot of home comforts with you every trip?

These are important deliberations because they might play a big part in influencing your choice of motorhome. For example, purchasing one that’s too small or incorrectly configured in terms of the number of berths might restrict how often you can invite others to join you.

Critically assess your requirements

Try not to be overwhelmed by the huge range of choice that’s available – both in terms of different motorhomes, their fittings, and equipment.

Inevitably, each model will have its pros and cons in terms of how it fits into your requirements. Assessing that isn’t something you can easily do from a zero-knowledge base just by looking around a motorhome or two on a dealer’s site.

For starters, therefore, focus instead on some serious internet research about the models you might have become interested in and take the advice of experienced dealers in motorhomes – such as ourselves here at Derby Motorhomes, of course.

The size and type of motorhome you select should be heavily influenced by your own requirements and capabilities. That is likely to depend on your understanding of things such as:

  • whether you are happy driving a large vehicle or would prefer a modestly sized motorhome;
  • how often you are likely to use it and typically over what distances/durations;
  • whether you have a driveway or garage big enough to accommodate it (remember, some local councils might have restrictions on driveway parking of motorhomes and your neighbours might object too) – if not, is there a secure motorhome storage facility relatively close to you and does it have vacancies; or
  • whether it is going to be used largely by you alone, you and a partner, or you and a larger family.

All these factors – and others like them – need to be clear in your own mind before hitting the showroom trail.

Be cautious about buying small as a default option

Our motorhome buying tips would not be complete without a very gentle warning about buying a vehicle that is too compact – unless you’re sure that it’ll meet your needs in the medium to longer term.

If you purchase a motorhome that’s perhaps a tad too large for your average needs, then it might represent a marginal cost-inefficiency but having a vehicle that proves to be too small in many cases can be a near insurmountable problem, short of replacing it.

Once again, seek appropriate advice.

Incline towards established brands

This might appear to be a slightly controversial point in motorhome buying tips, but it remains the case that if you choose a well-known marque, with established reliability and a reliable track record in aspects such as build quality and power plant (engine), this can reduce many of the risks in making such a significant investment.

Look carefully at any customization

Naturally, this typically applies only to pre-loved models, but it’s worth noting that some previous owners might have “tweaked” things around the motorhome.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that – providing it was done properly and with approved fittings and parts that meet the manufacturer’s standards.

It’s worth being aware that in many cases, DIY customisation and “improvements” reduce the value of a motorhome. In fact, many dealers will remove them from the vehicle so that it is returned to its factory specification before a re-sale. That should tell you something!

Private purchases versus dealerships

On this particular issue, there’s probably no cast-iron or indisputable advice.

Broadly speaking, buying a used vehicle privately might offer you some ticket-price cost savings. However, against that, you’ll need to keep in mind that you’ll typically have no post-sale support or service and your post-sale legal rights when dealing with a private individual may be limited to non-existent.

To help protect your interests if buying privately, carefully check and confirm that:

You may pay a little more in terms of the price through a dealership, but you should get that legal protection of your rights and post-sales support.

Know your technical limitations

You certainly don’t need to be a qualified engineer to enjoy a motorhome! Even so, when buying, there may be technical issues that need to be taken into consideration.

If you’re mechanically and vehicle minded, then fine. If you’re not, call upon the help of either someone who is or a quality retailer of motorhomes with the experience to guide you through some of the technology and what it might mean in terms of influencing your final decision.

Prepare your funding options in advance

Finding the wherewithal to finance your purchase, of course, depends on your personal means and circumstances.

You might want to be a little cautious about using your cash reserves or retirement kitty. It may make sense to use one of the various motorhome finance options that might be available to you such as HP, a personal loan or lease purchase, for example.

Look into your options – including potential fund providers – and be sure you’re clear about your overall financial position, before starting to look at vehicles in dealers’ showrooms or on websites.

Motorhome driving tips

Now you’ve bought your motorhome, what about the challenge of driving one?

In fact, you’re likely to discover that – with a little practice and growing familiarity – it is probably no more difficult than driving your own car.

The following tips may help to explain how you may overcome any initial doubts or worries:

Look and learn

  • when you get behind the wheel of any vehicle you have not driven before, you usually spend a moment or two familiarising yourself with the controls, so that you know where everything is and know just how it all works – especially in an emergency;
  • getting behind the wheel of a motorhome is unlikely to be so different and a few minutes just making yourself comfortable, adjusting the seat, and getting familiar with all the controls is likely to pay dividends;


  • you’ve made yourself at home in the cockpit – and the spacious interior, no doubt – so you’re probably looking forward to moving off;
  • if there’s still any trepidation, though, or if you want to play it extra safe, you might want to enrol on one of the motorhome courses run by the Caravan and Motorhome Club or the Camping and Caravanning Club;
  • these manoeuvring courses aim to teach you all about handling a larger vehicle – forwards and in reverse – simple maintenance, routine safety checks, and the law, with a feedback session typically closing the session;

Moving off

  • now that you’ve gained a little confidence, there are just a few things to remember – especially until you’ve become familiar with the length, width, and size of your motorhome;
  • the golden rule is to relax, slow down and enjoy the journey (likely to be at least half the enjoyment of outings in your motorhome);
  • while you are on the move, you might tend to forget some of the key dimensions – the height and length of your motorhome – so take a look in your owner’s manual and learn them off by heart, so that you are not caught unawares when approaching low bridges or especially narrow and winding roads along the way;
  • with the extra length of the vehicle, you may need to take corners wider than you are used to, but be careful, of course, of swinging out into oncoming traffic, slow down and look well ahead when cornering;
  • in fact, you might want to kill your speed more generally while getting used to driving your motorhome – it’s not designed to be driven as fast as the car you use for work or trips to the shops and, besides, slowing down may help you to enjoy the journey better;
  • if your motorhome is less than 3,500 kg unladen weight (as most are), then the rules of the road, including speed limits are the same as for the car you normally drive – but if it is above 3,500 kg then remember that lower speed restrictions apply;

Park and Ride

  • even though you may have become familiar with the handling of your motorhome, it is rarely a clever idea to take it into already congested and sometimes narrow inner-city streets; so,
  • Park and Ride schemes are a boon to motorhome owners since they let you park easily away from all the congestion, with your vehicle waiting safely for you at the end of your visit to the city.

By following just a few simple tips and suggestions, therefore, you are likely to find that driving a motorhome presents no great challenge – and you soon take to it like a duck to water.

Take to the wheel of any motorhome and the freedom of the open road is all yours. Take to the wheel and drive your motorhome in Europe and that open road might seem to have no end in sight.

Whatever time of year you are proposing to go, a little advance planning and attention to what you need to take with you may save heartache – not to mention disaster – further down the road.

So that your adventures on the continent run smoothly and with as little unwelcome incident as possible, however, here are some of the factors to keep in mind – from the planning and paperwork to the preparation of your motorhome, to finally driving in Europe.


Whether you have a definite destination in mind or are planning for a magical mystery tour to wherever takes your fancy on the day, beware of overly long and tiring hours behind the wheel.

In other words, always plan plenty of pitstops along the way – and that means during the day as well as any overnight stops to sleep.

Your motorhome will be taking the strain, but also needs to be fully fit to do so. In that case, remember to plan an early visit to a servicing agent – ourselves here at Derby Motorhomes, perhaps, especially if yours is an Auto-Sleepers motorhome.


It’s important to have all the documents and paperwork you need to take with you.

Since some of these might take a while to arrange, it’s worth getting them together in good time. Include the following in your checklist of essential documents:

Driving licence

  • since the end of the post-Brexit transition, your full UK driving licence remains valid throughout the European Union countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland;
  • if you currently live in any of these countries and have been driving on your UK licence, however, you will need to exchange it for a locally issued licence in accordance with the rules of the country in which you are living;
  • in any event, you will need to make sure that your driving licence – including the relevant categories that allow you to drive a motorhome – are up to date;

International Driving Permit (IDP)

  • the official advice last updated on the 28th of September 2021 is that you “might” need an IDP if you have a paper driving licence or one that was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man;
  • you can also use the government website to check whether you are likely to need an IDP (there are three different types in issue), depending on the countries you’ll be visiting and how long you will be staying in each of them;
  • probably the easiest place to get an IDP is the Post Office, where you will need to show your driving licence (and a passport, if your licence is the older, paper type), a current passport-standard photograph, and pay the current £5.50 fee;

Motor insurance

  • as the breakdown recovery service Green Flag explains, a minimum of third-party insurance is obligatory throughout Europe, so you need to keep your insurance certificate with you at all times – having checked with your insurer that your policy covers you while driving in Europe;
  • you might also want to upgrade any minimum third-party cover provided by your motor insurer when driving in Europe to your normal, fully comprehensive cover;
  • as the government-sponsored website Moneyhelper advises, also ask your insurer for a “green card” showing proof that you meet the insurance standards required in the countries through which you will be driving – bearing in mind that a green card typically expires after 90 days;


  • even in the days when you enjoyed freedom of movement within Europe, the best means of identification for you and each of your passengers was your passport – post-Brexit, of course, passports are going to be essential, and you may even need a visa to visit countries within Europe;
  • as the long delays at the Port of Dover in the summer of 2022 made clear, the post-Brexit need for European immigration authorities to ensure that visits do not exceed 90 days in any 100 days means that your UK passport now has to be checked and stamped on entry to the EU.

Finally, don’t forget to take proof of ownership of your vehicle – typically satisfied by your Vehicle Registration Certificate, the V5C, or logbook as it’s commonly called.


Preparing for your trip to Europe means making sure that your motorhome is ready for the adventure – and that it carries the equipment and any accessories that will be needed by law as you drive through various European countries.

We have already mentioned the importance of a thorough service – inside and out – to ensure that your motorhome is roadworthy and capable of providing reliable and comfortable accommodation for several weeks at a time.

One of the first things you also need to ensure is that a “GB” nationality sticker is fixed to the outside rear of your motorhome – it is required throughout Europe.

Different European countries have different rules about the equipment that must be carried within your motorhome – so check carefully what is required in the countries through which you will be driving.

There is also considerable variation in the local requirements for equipment you need to keep on board – this may include:

Hazard warning triangles

  • practically every country requires that you carry a warning triangle – but did you know that in Spain and Croatia you have to carry two;

Reflective jacket

  • for use in similar circumstances, you must also have on board a reflective jacket while driving in Spain, Austria, France, Belgium, Portugal, and Croatia;

First aid kit

  • in Greece, Germany, France, Croatia, and Austria, you must have a first aid kit on board – although it is a sensible precaution, of course, wherever you happen to be driving;

Fire extinguisher

  • a similarly wise precaution is to carry a fire extinguisher within your motorhome – and it is specifically recommended (although not obligatory) in Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and the Netherlands;


  • in France, you must also carry a breathalyser kit – although it remains a moot point whether the law is rigorously applied, says the RAC.

These are by no means the only local differences you are likely to encounter in the traffic regulations of the countries you are going to be driving through. In guidance updated on the 12th of July 2022, the Money Saving Expert also offers a comprehensive guide to what you will need, as does the AA.

Driving in Europe

The rules of the road in some parts of Europe may be different from those with which you are familiar at home. Despite everything you might have read about the standardisation of rules throughout the EU when it comes to local traffic regulations, there are still important differences in each member country.

You want to stay on the right side of the law, of course, so before you go it is important to research the rules of the road in every country you are going to be visiting (and those you might need to drive through as the result of diversions or other emergencies).

Some of the greatest variations you are likely to encounter are speed limits in different European countries – especially if yours is a larger motorhome. And don’t let variable speed limits catch you out.

In some countries, the rules may be especially quirky and convoluted. In Spain, for example, some one-way streets allow parking on the side of the street where houses have odd numbers on odd days of the month – and the side where house numbers are even, on even days of the month.

Driving your motorhome in Europe expands your horizons, of course, but make sure that you go thoroughly prepared. And, as a final reminder, before you set off on your adventures in a motorhome, just double-check you have all the right documentation.

Please note that the information contained within this blog is based on our current understanding of the law. As legislation can change, we recommend you always make your own checks on documentation and licence requirements etc. before you travel.

When buying a motorhome the motorhome weights are to some customers, a little confusing. They are essential parts of motorhome information, to assist in motorhomes being driven safely.

You may have seen the Police pulling lorries and large vehicles of the roads at weigh stations. To check that everything is compliant with the regulations, motorhomes can also be required to take a test.

So, lets investigate what motorhome weight calculations are all about. And don’t forget your motorhome also has limits for its front axle and rear axle too.

Before we start, just a reminder to also make sure you understand what driving licence you need when driving a motorhome.

Motorhome weights

How heavy?

First things to remember is that on a new motorhome, every additional optional items must be subtracted from your available payload. From removable carpets to outside awnings and bicycle racks. They all have a weight that has to be taken into consideration.

When buying a motorhome with a modest payload, with extras, this will reduce the remaining payload available to use.

Safety first

Keeping legal

When using a motorhome it is important to stay within the limits of the motorhomes capability. Also, it is extremely important not to overload your motorhome. In fact, doing so will have a detrimental effect on handling, and performance of the motorhome. Especially the stopping distances, so the overall safety and stability of the motorhome is very important to your safety.

In addition, Insurers may take a dim view if your motorhome is outside the limits recommended for the motorhome. If you have an accident that is down to this, they may not even pay out.

How heavy is the motorhome?

More than you thought?

Quite simply to find out, load up as if you were going away and pop along to a public weighbridge. There are many throughout the UK and they are easy to use. Drive the motorhome onto the weighbridge and you will then have an official certificate of the weight of your motorhome.

MTPLM – Maximum technically permissible laden mass.

This stands for the “maximum technically permissible laden mass” of your motorhome. Sometimes known as “maximum authorised mass” (MAM) or “Gross vehicle weight rating” (GVWR).

This information is usually found your owner’s manual and on the chassis plate. Basically, this is the maximum amount that the motorhome is allowed to carry in total. This typically also allows for passengers on board and any extra stuff you are carrying.

MIRO – Mass in running order

This weight calculation stands for the “mass in running order”. The motorhome’s MIRO typically includes a full tank of fuel and an estimated driver weight of 75kg.

Still not sure?

Please ask us! We will be delighted to help.

We understand that getting the weight within legal and safety parameters may be a concern. Our service department will be happy to help you on any motorhome weight calculation issues.

There’s a very good chance that you spent a tidy sum when buying your motorhome.  Just like any expensive asset, therefore, it makes sense to protect it by ensuring that it’s regularly serviced.

Professional motorhome servicing is the way to do that, and both part-exchange and private motorhome sale values may typically be increased if you can provide a full-service history for your preloved vehicle.

It’s not only a question of finance

Important as the financial considerations might be, we don’t want to labour too much the financial logic behind regular motorhome servicing. That’s because we believe there’s another far more critical imperative for regular and attentive servicing – and that is safety.

In several important respects, there is simply no comparison between a standard car and a motorhome. True, both machines need attention to matters such as engine and basic mechanical servicing and maintenance. It would be dangerous and possibly even illegal to drive any vehicle on the road that was not in a safe, roadworthy condition.

However, in the case of a motorhome, you’re not just driving it but living in it at times too.

So, you’re typically going to have electrical systems for lighting, possibly heating, and cooking. It’s also possible that you’ll be using gas for some or several of those purposes. You’re also going to have water systems aboard and possibly some waste disposal functionality.

Water, electricity, gas, heating, and waste – taken together they represent pretty much the whole package of household-type infrastructure services.

The mechanics

As with any motor vehicle, the law says that you must arrange for an MOT test on the third anniversary of your motorhome’s first registration and every year afterwards. It is illegal to circulate any vehicle that requires one without a valid MOT certificate – on penalty of a fine of up to £1,000.

But just as with the MOT certificate for any motor vehicle, it confirms the basic roadworthiness of your motorhome on the date it was tested only. It is your responsibility under the law to make sure that it remains in a roadworthy condition throughout the rest of the year – if you do not, you risk invalidating your motor insurance as well as attracting the unwanted attention of the police.

Regular servicing and maintenance by a reputable dealer, therefore, may spot any potential problems before they develop and keep you and other road users safe on the highway.


In our view, a thorough service isn’t something that can be done on a quick-and-cheap or DIY basis. It must be done right – leaving little or nothing to chance. So, of course, there is some cost involved. Yet avoiding that cost might prove to be dangerous. We don’t think it’s even worth contemplating.

From our extensive experience, we know just how much effort modern motorhome and campervan manufacturers go to when trying to ensure their vehicles are safe to drive and occupy when in use.

Yet all of us know that it doesn’t matter what design and engineering excellence have been applied to machines and their systems, normal wear and tear can still cause problems to arise. Maintenance is ideally all about spotting potential problems and removing that potential rather than fixing a problem once it has occurred.

That’s why a thorough professional motorhome servicing needs to examine:

  • all the electrical systems including pin plugs, cables, your road lights, earthing systems, and so on;
  • your fire safety provisions, potentially covering smoke) and carbon monoxide) detectors, fire blankets, extinguishers, appliances, and the like;
  • the water systems, including pumps, pressure devices, filters, taps, any water tanks, WC, drainage, and so on;
  • very importantly – your gas systems. As the UK’s Registered Gas Engineer advised in a posting on the 26th of May 2021, checks should cover looking for any potential gas leaks, all appliances, regulator valves, cylinders, hoses (and clips) plus flues and ventilation;
  • the bodywork – including the vehicle’s windows, doors, roof, number plates, all furniture, blinds, flooring, screens, and while you’re at it, you might also test for damp penetration; and
  • the basic mechanics of the vehicle including its undercarriage, chassis, coupling head, all tyre pressures and depth of treads, and so on.

Living in comfort – the interior

The process of keeping the interior of your motorhome spick, span, healthy, and hazard-free is known as a habitation service – and the Wandering Bird website weighs up the pros and cons of having such a habitation service done each year.

It involves a thorough servicing, inspection, repair, and maintenance of the electrical, gas, heating, and water systems in your motorhome, together with an overall service of the whole of the living and sleeping areas.

In that process, a habitation service provides an essential health and safety check and may also help to detect longer-term issues – such as mould and damp – before they spread to become especially expensive problems to resolve.

If you have a slightly older motorhome – or one that you are not using regularly – the drinking water system is likely to be especially vulnerable to the build-up of potentially harmful bacteria. Your habitation service, therefore, is likely to include flushing out the entire water system with an antibacterial solution.

In between services, you may help to keep your drinking water somewhat safer by using it regularly or at least running off some of the stored water and refilling it.

Motorhome servicing by specialists

When it comes to making sure your motorhome is in tip-top condition, you want someone you can trust. And here at Derby Motorhomes, we are big on servicing. We want to ensure your motorhome is above all safe, but that everything from the mechanics to the onboard electrics and gas is also working correctly. Winning your peace of mind is paramount.

The very nature of a motorhome makes it a specialist vehicle and second home. That calls for specialist attention, of course, and you might want to make sure that you commission a known and trusted dealer – such as ourselves – to take care of your servicing and maintenance requirements. We can do just that whether or not you bought your motorhome from us.

If you are fortunate enough to own an Auto-Sleeper, for instance, you may want the reassurance and confidence of knowing your servicing is being carried out according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Peace of mind

Ensuring things are as they should be with all gas and electric appliances is our first port of call. Having a service is one thing, and mechanical servicing is straightforward. Or at least it should be.

We want to put your motorhome to the test and make sure that all the habitation checks are carried out professionally. Also, in a manner that will give any of our customers’ real peace of mind.

Regular servicing and maintenance – of both the mechanical and interior aspects – of your motorhome is, therefore, an important route to prolonging its working life and keeping you and its occupants safe and free from potential harm to your health.

It’s a question we’re often asked – just why do we like Auto-Sleepers?

It’s a straightforward enough question, after all, and at least part of the simple answer is because we recognise the skill and experience that has gone into manufacturing motorhomes these past sixty years or so. That fact alone speaks volumes about them and just one reason why we like Auto-Sleepers.

The long road to producing what has become probably Britain’s leading caravan marque began with the application and dedication of a young family business back in the early 1960s. Through a commitment to superior craftsmanship and design expertise, the business eventually evolved into the manufacturer you see today – producing the very best of British in motorhomes from its factory based at Willersey in the Cotswolds.

We like and respect the enormous amount of time, talent, and effort that continue to be applied to the manufacture of every single Auto-Sleepers motorhome. They are the qualities that shine through every motorhome produced.

Just take a look into the interior of any Auto-Sleepers motorhome and you’ll see once again why we like them so much. Not only is all the furniture, the fixtures, and fittings top-rate quality but it is also stylish and modern, handcrafted to ensure it gives you many years of pleasure and pride.

It’s clear that the people at Auto-Sleepers not only know every inch of the vehicles inside-out they must actually live with the motorhomes they produce. Only such first-hand familiarity can inform the evident knowledge of what’s going to work and what makes the fullest possible use of every corner of space within a motorhome.

There are many other reasons – many of them stemming from the fact that the range of models offers something for everyone. From the top of the range Mercedes Benz luxury motorhome to the very flexible Peugeot van conversions. Alongside those, you have the Peugeot coach-built range and the all-new Peugeot built on the AL-KO chassis.

We love Auto-Sleepers – coming up for sixty years in business

Another reason for our having taken so fondly to Auto-Sleepers is the fact that the manufacturer is a UK-based business – and that makes life just so much easier. Parts and servicing issues just disappear most of the time. Yes, there is always an exception but with Auto-Sleepers, there are not many to be concerned about.

Factory collections and a destination that is easy to get to, situated in a beautiful part of England. The English Cotswold’s take some beating for a taste of real England. Also, there is a matter of residual values and whilst every motorhome devalues over time, Auto-Sleepers remain extremely popular and sought-after.

Wanted second hand – good Auto Sleeper motorhomes

In fact, they hold that desirable appeal second hand and the trade likes them as well! We tend to find that they really do sell well. This is also an important factor for all our customers who have an Auto-Sleeper. It’s probably why so many of our customers keep coming back to us.

Selling well – great residual values

Having the ability to sell any model in the Auto-Sleepers range quickly is another good reason for choosing this marque. If a customer’s circumstances should change, for example, and cash is needed in the bank, then we would always be a potential buyer.

Need our help? Just ask, happy to help anyone

A final reason – a financial one at that – for our continuing love affair with Auto-Sleepers is that they are now part of Trigano one of Europe’s largest Leisure groups and leading European manufacturer of motorhomes.

So, there you have some of the reasons why we like Auto-Sleepers.

Although winter might bring some days of unexpected sunshine, this is probably the time of year when you are thinking about putting your motorhome into some form of storage. The days are getting noticeably shorter and the clocks will be going back anytime soon, so you might be using your motorhome less often as the weather closes in.

So that your motorhome stays in peak condition, protected from the elements and other wear and tear, here are some tips and suggestions as you prepare the vehicle for winter – so that it is ready to use come springtime.

As you prepare to winterise your motorhome, bear in mind that your motorhome insurance policy may spell out certain obligations as to what you need to do when storing your motorhome. Some may also offer discounts if you store your motorhome at a recognised storage site – speak to your insurer for clarification.

Insurance considerations, for the moment, to one side, let’s consider the main areas of focus before you store your motorhome away for winter:


One of the great things about a motorhome, of course, is its versatility and the way it is more or less always ready to get out on the road for excursions even during the winter months. Depending on your lifestyle and the type of motorhome you own, however, you might prefer to think in terms of more secure, off-road storage.

The Caravan and Motorhome Club has 3,000 such pitches at various secure storage sites around the country and many of these are also accredited by the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA) – where the level of security and safe-keeping might even earn you a discount on your motorhome insurance premiums.


Whether you decide to winterise your motorhome by putting it into storage or keep it on your driveway ready for sunnier winter interludes, now is the time of year to give it some pre-winter care and maintenance:

  • wash and clean off the summer’s dust and debris before giving the whole vehicle a good wax – to provide that extra layer of protection that helps preserve the bodywork’s sheen;
  • remember that your motorhome needs to “breathe” when it’s not in use – air vents need to be kept open to prevent damp and mould – so avoid covering the vehicle with any type of tarpaulin;
  • lubricate mechanical parts on the exterior of your motorhome, including the door hinges – this will also help repel moisture and reduce corrosion;
  • check the tyre pressures and inflate them to the recommended working pressure, but remember that the rubber is going to deteriorate faster if the weight of the vehicle is kept on the same tread for too long – better to raise the vehicle on axle-stands to take the weight off the tyres;
  • carefully check the state of all seals around doors and windows, making sure that the rubber has not perished or become damaged – this is one of the most common sources of ingress of water, which may quickly cause very costly, longer-term damage; and
  • if there is evidence of any water ingress, make sure to trace and remedy the problem.


Although a full mechanical service may wait until nearer the time you next use it, prepare the motorhome for its period of storage by changing the oil and consider adding a fuel storage stabiliser (to combat corrosion and prevent the build-up of gum and varnish deposits).

Here at Derby Motorhomes, we advise against the temptation to turn over the engine by starting it too often, since this is likely to circulate the acids and sludge that accumulate in the system. If you do start it, however, make sure to run it for at least half an hour.

An altogether better solution is simply to disconnect and remove the battery, charging it regularly – perhaps with a solar trickle-charger, as advertised by suppliers Maplin.


Give the interior a thorough cleaning, too – not simply for appearances’ sake, but also to help prevent a build-up of damp or to deter pests. Food and crumbs that have accumulated during summer outings present an irresistible treat to mice and other pests during the winter months. So, remove all food from the fridge, clean the inside thoroughly and leave the door ajar.

A quick checklist of further good housekeeping points for the interior of your motorhome includes:

  • draining down all water systems and blowing compressed air through the pipes to ensure that every last drop has been expelled;
  • this is an essential precaution, since any water that freezes in cold weather may burst not only the pipes and storage tanks but also the fittings;
  • disconnect and remove the auxiliary battery or batteries for storage in a dry place where they will not freeze and remember to keep them charged since cold weather shortens their effective working life;
  • disconnect and remove any gas (butane or propane) cylinders and store in a safe and dry place;
  • take out all the bedding and soft furnishings, wash or dry clean it and store it indoors at home.


One of the trickier issues is maintaining ventilation – to discourage the spread of damp and mould – whilst at the same time weather-proofing those openings to prevent insects and other pests from getting in.

Larger ventilation portals, for example, might be covered up with plastic or polythene which is simply taped into place.


Ensure that any awnings have been thoroughly dried so that they can be rolled up and put away until they are needed in the spring or summer.


Whether it is sitting on the driveway at home, or in more permanent storage, visit your motorhome from time to time and, if possible, take it out for a drive, to help even out wear on the tyres that have been bearing the weight of the vehicle for all this time.

Regularly check tyre pressures, oil, brake, and clutch fluids.

Ready for the next season

A little care now, as you winterise your motorhome, may help to ensure it is ready for another season of faithful service come the springtime.

At Derby Motorhomes, there’s nothing we enjoy doing better than helping our clients and potential clients learn more about motorhomes. So, we’ve built up quite an extensive database of frequently asked questions or “motorhome FAQs”.

We couldn’t do better than to share some of those frequently asked questions.

What driving licence do I need?

The answer is just a little more complicated than you might have imagined and depends on your age, when you passed your driving test, and the weight of the motorhome you intend to drive.

If you passed your test before the 1st of January 1997, then you’re fine for driving a motorhome up to a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) – the weight of the vehicle, plus its maximum loading capacity – of 7,500kg. If you gained your licence after that date, you are limited to motorhomes with a MAM of up to 3,500kg only.

If you passed your driving test after the 1st of January 1997, not only are you limited to motorhomes with a MAM of up to 3,500kg, but you must also pass an additional driving test category (C1) to drive a motorhome weighing between 3,500kg and 7,500kg.

If you are considering one of those super-large American motorhomes, you’ll typically need a category C licence (a Light Goods Vehicle).

You need to hold a full, Category B driving licence and be at least 18 years of age to apply for a provisional licence in Category C1 and must be at least 21 years of age to hold a Category C driving licence.

Please note, this information is correct at the time of writing – June 2020.

How easy are they to drive?

In terms of the basics, they’re not significantly different from a car, and most or all of the controls will be familiar. The designers have also put huge amounts of effort into making them easy to drive.

It’s worth remembering, however, that once they’re fully laden, they’ll be much heavier than most conventional cars and their handling characteristics will be different as a result. It’s not a question of easier or harder, it’s just that they’ll feel “different”.

The larger the motorhome you choose, the more you’ll notice that handling difference over and above a car.

Almost everybody gets to grips with this very quickly. There are courses you can take to help, and they might be advisable – particularly for the larger motorhomes. Motorhome manoeuvring courses are offered both by the Caravan and Motorhome Club and by the Camping and Caravanning Club. Don’t also forget that you may need to change your driving licence category (as we explained above).

What are these giant US motorhomes I see on TV?

In the US, motorhomes are typically called “Recreational Vehicles” or “RVs”.

Some are almost the length and weight of an articulated lorry, and biggest of these types of US RV would not be road-legal in the UK or EU.

Some that are imported into the UK are road-legal, of course. Keep in mind that parts and servicing might be an issue and that in some cases they may not be drivable with a standard licence.

Are the bigger motorhomes the most expensive?

This one is commonly encountered in motorhome FAQs – and, as a general rule, of course, the answer is yes – but that’s not always the case.

For example, a slightly smaller model that’s a prestigious marque and superbly and luxuriously equipped might command a higher price than a slightly larger campervan.

It’s rather like comparing say a small Porsche to a large Ford. In the case of some campervans, you’re paying for engineering, build quality and design, not its cubic volume inside.

Can I drive my motorhome anywhere, on any public road?

Yes! Of course, you will have to comply with any road signs indicating that there is a limit on height or weight of a vehicle (if your motorhome exceeds it).

Some “unmade-up” roads in poor condition or off-road tracks might also be unadvisable for larger vehicles, including motorhomes. That’s largely a question of common sense.

How much does a good motorhome cost?

That is such a difficult question to answer because so much depends upon the type of vehicle you’re interested in.

To give an extremely broad view, a new 2-4 berth quality marque Auto-Sleeper is likely to cost from £55,000 upwards. For most of us, that’s likely to be our most expensive ever purchase after our house – and that’s why expert advice and guidance on your purchase is likely to prove so important.

Is it cheaper to buy second hand?

It is – but subject to a couple of caveats:

  • motorhomes hold their values well if they’ve been looked after. Don’t expect to see the same percentage depreciation on a two-year-old motorhome as you might expect to see with a two-year-old car;
  • be sensible when purchasing a second-hand motorhome from a private individual. Unless you’re an expert, that could be risky in mechanical terms, and you’ll get little or no post-sales support.

As a final tip, of course, remember that if a second-hand motorhome price seems too good to be true – that is highly likely to be the case.

Why do I see advertisements for seasonal motorhome storage?

Comparatively few people wish to use their motorhomes in the winter months.

Just like any other vehicle that’s parked-up and not in use, the weather can start to take its toll. Given the cost of such vehicles, many owners prefer to put them into secure and weather-proof storage units over the winter months.

Your insurance provider might also offer you discounts for doing so!

How do the toilets work?

Yes, this one has a certain fascination for potential first-time buyers, and it features regularly in our motorhome FAQs!

There are, in fact, a number of different types:

  • the cassette. Here, the waste is collected in a storage cassette which is extracted externally and taken into a waste site to be manually emptied. This is probably the most common;
  • the portapotti. This is like a portable toilet in two parts. The lower part contains the waste and it, too, is manually extracted externally and emptied. The top part contains the bowl and water;
  • the marine. This is slightly different because the waste is stored externally and then emptied by connecting it to a special on-site facility so it can be drained. Note that this system presumes you are on a site with suitable “evacuating” connections.

In terms of which to select, a lot depends upon how you think you’re going to use your motorhome. If you’re planning to stay on big, established, and well-equipped sites then all three might be fine. If you’re planning to get off the beaten track and use smaller sites, then one of the first two options might be more suitable.

Is a shower going to work properly?

Yes, but you will need to be realistic – particularly in the smaller motorhomes.

Water is heavy and takes up a lot of space. As such, the supply is limited, and you’ll want to use it sparingly while on the road. That means that those long, high-pressure showers you take at home are unlikely to be matched by the shower experience in most motorhomes.

Having said that, most people find them perfectly adequate.

We hope these motorhome Faqs have proved useful!