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!

So, now you’re the proud owner of your first motorhome, have just upgraded to a new one, or are already on the verge of making that investment. There’s just one question left – where can you go to fully enjoy the benefits of your second home on wheels?

One of the great things about the UK, of course, is that the rich diversity and beauty of these isles means that you are likely to be spoilt for choice. But here are just a few motorhome destinations to inspire your choice.

Scotland

If you’re English, any foray north of the border takes you to a whole new country – culturally, historically and scenically.

The wide-open spaces, the rugged moorlands and mountains, stunning lochs, coastline and outlying islands are perfect for exploring in your motorhome.

You don’t even need to venture very far into Scotland to find the other-worldly, fairy tale magic of a castle on the south coast of Ayrshire at Culzean. The Camping and Caravanning Club’s site is in the very grounds of the castle itself and opens up to some stunning views across the water to the Isle of Arran. With 90 pitches, you are almost certain to find a perfect place to stay.

Probably the greatest draw for visitors from south of the border, however, are the Scottish Highlands, where the Camping and Motorhome Club’s site at Altnaharra has everything you might have imagined – including breath-taking views across Loch Naver to the mountains of Ben Klibreck.

Wales

An equally “foreign” adventure might take you into the heart of Wales.

The North, Mid-Wales, or the South all offer distinctive touring and holiday destinations that shake off your English roots and welcome you into a land of stark contrasts, rugged mountains, gentle costal walks and green valleys.

To the north, of course, is the stunning majesty of Snowdonia National Park – 823 square miles of diverse natural beauty and a home and working environment for more than 26,000 people.

Pull up your motorhome for a night or two at the family-run Celyn Brithion campsite, which is situated within the National Park.

Did you know that Mid-Wales has its own Lakeland – a rural idyll between the coast and the border country of the Shropshire Hills across the border in England. Wyeside Camping and Caravanning Club Site makes the perfect place to stay.

In South Wales, the scenery shifts dramatically from the valleys of the Brecon Beacons, to the Gower Peninsula and the Pembrokeshire coast.

Pitton Cross Caravan and Camping Park is close to the renowned Rhossili headland and a beach that has often been rated the “Best in the UK”.

England

From the Lake District in the northwest, the wild and rugged Northumbrian coast to the east, the rural charms of the Peak District, the Heart of England in Shakespeare’s homeland around Stratford upon Avon, East Anglia, the coastline and the beaches of Devon and Cornwall, or the Garden of England in the southeast, you are still spoilt for amazing choice if you prefer a shorter drive in your motorhome.

When you’ve done touring for the day – or you just want to rest and relax to take in the views – each of these English regions have campsites galore for you and your motorhome.

Individual sites are too numerous to mention – so we’ll leave it to you to discover your own favourite bolthole.

When it comes to servicing your motorhome, it might be worth remembering that it is effectively a two-in-one vehicle – there’s the vehicle which gets you from A to B and inside there are the living quarters that make it your temporary home away from home.

Both aspects need to be taken care of, so, you might want to insist that your motorhome servicing is performed only by a reputable, well-established and competent dealer.

Mechanical service

Your motorhome is subject to the same laws and regulations – including those changes made with effect from May 2018 – as other vehicles in terms of the MOT certificate that is required once it is more than three years old.

If your motorhome has reached the age when an MOT test is necessary, this may also be the time to arrange for it to be serviced. Regular servicing throughout the life of your motorhome is likely to be a condition of any warranty offered by the manufacturer or dealer.

To ensure that you abide by the terms and conditions of any warranty, you may also need to make sure that the workshops you use for the mechanical service use only genuine, manufacturer-recommended replacement parts.

Habitation service

If it is the first motorhome you have owned, you might be less familiar with the term habitation service. As the Camping and Caravanning Club explains, this is essentially the specialised servicing necessary to maintain the living quarters of your motorhome.

The habitation service typically covers facilities such as the gas, electrical, water, and heating systems in your motorhome – including the galley and the fridge, although some servicing of appliances might be done separately. It also covers a check for any leaks in the structure of your vehicle and any problems which might be traced to damp or mould.

Habitation servicing is pretty thorough and time-consuming in giving the interior of your motorhome the exhaustive treatment it needs. Key areas of attention are:

  • the underbody and bodywork;
  • electrics (12v);
  • mains electrics;
  • ventilation;
  • fire safety;
  • water system; and
  • gas.

As with mechanical servicing, regular habitation services are likely to be one of the conditions of the warranty that comes with your motorhome. For that to be valid, of course, you need to rely on a specialist workshop, experienced in conducting such servicing, to maintain your warranty.

Probably the best way of achieving that degree of reassurance is to use a member of the Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS) set up by the National Caravan Council, the Camping and Caravanning Club, and the Caravan and Motorhome Club, suggests Practical Motorhome.

Regular servicing of your motorhome – for both the mechanical and habitation integrity and safety of the vehicle – is an essential part of owning it. It expresses your tender loving care for your motorhome, maintains the validity of any warranty, and ultimately preserves its trade-in value.

By choosing a reputable, approved, specialist workshop for your motorhome servicing, such as us here at Derby Motorhomes, you ensure that sufficient time is taken to carry out the rigorous checks, using the specialist tools that are required.

Maintaining your motorhome not only encourages you to take pride in your holiday home on wheels but safeguards your investment and – perhaps most important of all – ensures that it remains safe on the roads and free of health hazards when you are spending your days and nights living in it.

Given the critical importance of motorhome maintenance, therefore, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about it that we receive here at Derby Motorhomes.

Do I have a legal responsibility for maintaining my motorhome?

No law says that you must maintain your motorhome, but the law does insist that it remains in a roadworthy condition, the Caravan and Motorhome Club reminds us.

If you are involved in an accident and your motorhome is shown to be unroadworthy, you are almost certain to be in trouble with the police and may also have invalidated your motorhome insurance policy.

Section 75 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 defines an unroadworthy condition as that which “would involve a danger of injury to any person” – and it is also unlawful to sell or offer for sale any such unroadworthy vehicle.

Isn’t the roadworthiness requirement covered by my MOT?

Your motorhome is only required to have an MOT if it is more than three years old.

Besides the MOT only certifies the roadworthiness of your vehicle on the day of the test – it is obviously impossible to predict any change which may occur after that date.

Even so, do not forget to arrange an MOT whenever it falls due, since you might be fined up to £1,000 if you fail to do so – and if you book your motorhome in for an MOT test by us here at Derby Motorhomes, we will arrange whatever additional maintenance may be necessary too.

There are some maintenance duties you need to uphold on a more frequent basis, just as you would your own car – the AA suggests a checklist of 10 main points, including the vehicle’s lights and engine coolant level once a week, tyres and engine oil every two weeks, hydraulic fluid for the power steering every month, an annual inspection of the windscreen wipers and regular checks of the windscreen (for damage), screenwash, and the bodywork (for dinks, dents and scrapes).

How do I maintain the interior of my motorhome?

Keeping the interior of your motorhome well-maintained, clean and orderly is a bit like keeping house.

Take your duster to hard surfaces, sweep up bread crumbs and other debris and give it all a thorough vacuuming from time to time, especially when you’ve just returned from a trip away;

Once a year, seriously consider what is called a “habitation” service – this is a service to check and help to maintain the interior of your motorhome and its essential facilities, such as the water supply, gas, electricity supply, and heating.

It is also a good idea not such to drain down your drinking water system from time to time and allow the water to flow through it, but also to flush it through with a proprietary antibacterial cleaner.

Whilst many of your motorhome maintenance chores may be done by yourself, why not treat your Auto-sleeper to a thorough mechanical and habitation service with us here at Derby Motorhomes at least once a year?

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. Thus, 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.

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. They all have a weight that has to be taken into consideration.

Therefore, when buying a motorhome with a modest payload with extras, this will reduce the remaining payload available to use. In fact, this will then reduce carrying things like clothing, bedding, food and drink.

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 payout.

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.

This stands for the “maximum technically permissible laden mass of your motorhome. Sometimes known as “maximum authorised mass (MAM).

This information is usually found in the motorhomes owner’s manual. Also, the information should be on the chassis plate. Basically, this is the maximum amount that the motorhome is allowed to carry in total. This also takes into consideration any touring kit and passengers on board.

So, this is the actual measured weight of the motorhome and the MAM or MTPLM is the payload of the vehicle. Therefore, loading the motorhome in such a way as to not exceed the individual axle loading limits.

This is also, designed to stop overloading of a motorhome. For example if the motorhome has a garage and a 500 kg payload, the tolerance will be 300 kg on the back axle.

MIRO.

Mass of the unladen vehicle.

This weight calculation stands for the “mass of the unladen vehicle”. Also, when arriving at this calculation this is including an allowance for the driver (assumed to be around 75 kg). In addition, taking a calculation that on board at the time the fuel tank is 90% full. The MIRO assumes that the fresh water tank empty. An interesting point to also note. If you travel with water in the freshwater tank then the user payload will reduce accordingly.

Payload.

Of a conventional load.

The payload is the maximum user payload of the vehicle. This calculation includes a conventional load, In fact, this is for the allowance for passengers. Along with the essential habitation equipment and fluids required for safe and proper functioning of the habitation equipment.

Not forgetting that the optional equipment are the items available from the manufacturer over and above the standard specification. They do not take into any personal effects.

Still not sure?

Please ask us.

Our service department will be happy to help you on any motorhome weight calculation issues.

Select and find out online.

Find out now.

Here is a way of finding out all you need is your motorhome details. Also, on the main website you will find all the help that you need to know.

In all probability, your motorhome has cost you a significant sum of money. 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 sale values may typically be increased if you can provide a full-service history for it.

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 consider there’s another far more critical imperative behind doing so – and that is safety.

In several important respects, there is simply no comparison between a standard car and a motorhome. True, both need things 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 actually living in it at times too.

So, you’re typically going to have electrical systems for lighting, possibly heating and also 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 are a fairly good definition 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.

Maintenance

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 that’s 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, wear and tear can 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 and safety position, covering potentially smoke detectors (and carbon monoxide) fire blankets and extinguishers, appliances etc.;
  • the water systems, including pumps, pressure devices, filters, taps, any water tanks, WC, drainage and so on;
  • very importantly – your gas systems. Checks should cover looking for any potential gas leaks, all appliances, regulator valves, cylinders, hoses (and clips) plus flues and ventilation;
  • the bodywork covering windows, doors, roof, number plates, all furniture, blinds, flooring, screens – and testing for damp penetration while you’re at it; and
  • the basic mechanics of the vehicle including undercarriage, chassis, coupling head, all tyre pressures and depth of treads etc.

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 – which the Camping and Caravanning Club recommends that you have done on an annual basis.

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 the process, a habitation service serves as 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 are 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 straight forward. 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.