Ser­vice it your­self

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How to care for your car­a­van’s chas­sis, brakes, cou­pling and body

If your car­a­van, bush trailer or trailer has spent a few months with a roof over its head, some things might sud­denly not work so well any­more. Now you have two op­tions: you ei­ther cough up a lot of money for a ser­vice, or you can do it your­self. A car­a­van or trailer that isn’t prop­erly main­tained can end up cost­ing you a lot of money.

Thank­fully it is easy – and rel­a­tively cheap – to ser­vice and main­tain it your­self. The se­cret lies in a good check­list. If you work your way through such a list, chances are slim that you’ll for­get some­thing.

And even if you don’t ser­vice your car­a­van your­self, you can still use the list to check if the guys at Speedy’s Ser­vic­ing do a good job. Here’s what you need to check.


The chas­sis sup­ports the body­work – in fact, it sup­ports ev­ery­thing on top of it and there­fore it should be thor­oughly checked. Don’t just bend over and glance at it. Get on your back and give the chas­sis the Mark 1 eye­ball test, be­cause if the chas­sis breaks, you could get stranded in places where you’d rather not be. Clean it Check if there’s rust on the chas­sis. Clean and treat it, where nec­es­sary, with a lick of chas­sis paint. Then grease the mov­ing parts and re­place well-worn wash­ers. Any cracks? Es­pe­cially check around weld­ing points for cracks. Seal­ing holes with bub­blegum isn’t an op­tion; ask an ex­pert to fix the dam­age. Are the leaves peachy? While you’re un­der the car­a­van, take a look at the sus­pen­sion. The one side of a leaf sus­pen­sion sys­tem should be able to move through its rigid link. If it can’t, your sus­pen­sion is worth­less. Are the shocks shell-shocked? About half of the shaft should be vis­i­ble. If there’s a leak some­where, you should re­place the shock ab­sorber. It’s best not take chances with shock ab­sorbers. Pipes and wires A large por­tion of your car­a­van’s wiring and plumb­ing run un­der­neath it. Check for dam­age. Is the axle go­ing any­where? En­sure that the U-bolts around the axle are se­cure.


Re­mem­ber, ac­cord­ing to the law, if your trailer weighs more than 750 kg (load in­cluded), it must have brakes.


Han­dle the hand­brake

Make sure the spi­ral-shaped spring in the hand­brake is well lu­bri­cated, as well as the lock­ing mech­a­nism.

Hose down the wheels and grease them well.

Re­move the drums and hose ev­ery­thing down. A bit of paraf­fin does a good clean­ing job. Then re­move the brake pads and re­place then, if nec­es­sary.

Ad­just the brakes

Now you can ad­just he hand­brake as well as the trailer’s brake sys­tem.

At the bot­tom of the hand­brake sys­tem,

If you own a car­a­van, it’s not merely a case of hitch, tow and light a fire. Just like your car, it also also needs a bit of ten­der lov­ing care from time to time. So when it gets a breather in the win­ter, you should make sure that it sleeps safely and soundly.

there’s a long axle that can be ad­justed with a nut. There are also two nuts here to ad­just the brakes (one for each wheel). En­sure that th­ese bolts run per­pen­dic­u­lar to the cen­tre axle so that the wheels brake si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Some­times, you’ll need to make a few ad­just­ments be­fore the wheels brake to­gether.



A car­a­van’s doors, hinges, locks and han­dles re­ceive plenty of abuse. Make sure ev­ery­thing is still in one piece, clean and well lu­bri­cated.

Also make sure any fix­ing points on the ta­bles are solid.

Do all the zip fas­ten­ers still work? And do the mos­quito nets close prop­erly?


Have a good look at the body as well as the awnings, tents and any other gear that’s at­tached to the out­side of the car­a­van.

In­spect all the locks, hinges and han­dles. Clean and lu­bri­cate where nec­es­sary.

Make sure that all the bolts, nuts and fix­ing points are solid.

You ob­vi­ously want your car­a­van to keep look­ing great for a long time to come, so es­pe­cially in­spect all the rub­ber and other fin­ish­ing ma­te­ri­als. It’s also very im­por­tant that the rub­ber seals on the door and win­dows should be in­tact. Re­mem­ber, even the tini­est hole will al­low dust in.

Many trail­ers or car­a­vans have a pop-up roof. Make sure that the hinges and any gas struts work. You don’t want to spend your en­tire hol­i­day crouching.

In­spect the so­lar panel sys­tem, es­pe­cially the con­nec­tions and wiring.

Check if the wa­ter tanks and jerry cans are fixed in place.

Test if the cor­ner stead­ies drop and lift smoothly. You’ll prob­a­bly have to lu­bri­cate them thor­oughly.

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