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.

Just as with any vehicle, your motorhome benefits from regular, attentive servicing and maintenance by manufacturer-approved technicians.

In the case of a motorhome, of course, servicing and maintenance extends to far more than just the mechanical aspects of your vehicle and includes an interior that you want to keep as fresh and functional as the day you bought it.

With that in mind, here are some motorhome servicing tips and suggestions:

Choose a specialist

  • 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 to take care of your servicing and maintenance requirements – whether or not you had actually bought your motorhome from that particular franchise;
  • 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;

The mechanics

  • as with any motor vehicle, the law says that you must arrange for an MOT test on the 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;

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;
  • it is 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 on a regular basis – 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.

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.

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?

We at Derby Motorhomes are big on servicing.

We see it as critically important and here’s why.

Financial investment

In all probability, your motorhome has cost you a great deal of money.

Just like any expensive asset, it therefore only 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.

Safety

Important as money is, 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 important imperative behind doing so and that is safety.

In a number of 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 pretty good definition of household-type infrastructure services.

Maintenance

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 has 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 arisen.

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

  • all 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 values, 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;
  • the basic mechanics of the vehicle including undercarriage, chassis, coupling head, all tyre pressures and depth of treads etc.

True, no one can entirely exclude financial valuations from some of the above activities but this is largely about personal safety.

A thorough service isn’t something that can be done on a quick-and-cheap or DIY basis. It must be done right and leaving little or nothing to chance. So, there is cost involved.

Yet avoiding that cost might prove to be dangerous. It’s not worth contemplating.

One of the things we enjoy most is speaking to our customers and potential customers.

As part of that, we at Derby Motorhomes have an extensive database of frequently asked questions or “motorhome FAQs”. We’d like to share the answers to some of those here.

Do I need a special driving licence?

Possibly – it depends upon when you passed your original test.

To summarise:

  • if you passed your test before January 1997, then you’re fine for driving a motorhome up to 7.5 tonnes. If you gained your licence after that date, your limit will be 3.5 tonnes;
  • if your motorhome exceeds those weight and date restrictions, you will need to take a different category test;
  • if you’re considering one of those super-large American motorhomes, you’ll typically need a category C licence (a Light Goods Vehicle).

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, it’s 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.

How easy are they to drive? 

In terms of the basics, they’re not significantly different to 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 that 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. Don’t forget also that you may need to change your driving licence category (see our answer above).

 

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.

Now lets face it motorhome servicing is not rocket science or is it? Now we know that there are always going to be the do it yourself DIY person, who can do anything. However, when it comes down to making sure your motorhome is in tip top condition who do you trust?

Well as a franchised Auto Sleeper dealer we feel we need to make sure your motorhome is safe. Then we want to ensure that everything is working correctly. Now on that word safe we mean just that, motorhomes have electrics and gas on board so we start right there.

For peace of mind.

Something worth having.

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.

How far are you going?

Service planning.

You may be setting off for that long journey and like any maintenance you need assuring. Complying to a set of standards beyond just an MOT test is always the way to go.

Motorhome servicing.

Maintaining your motorhome.

No matter if you are only popping to the coast or warmer climates we want you to ensure you are safe. Now that you have found that your motorhome is in tip top condition you can book that trip to Mars after all.