Hibernating your caravan or motorhome for the winter

Carlton Boyce / 30 October 2015 ( 07 October 2017 )

How to prepare your caravan or motorhome for hibernation in winter to protect it from the wet and cold weather conditions.



While some hardy souls continue to use their caravans and motorhomes throughout the winter, most of us put ours into hibernation for the colder months. 

While preparing your caravan or motorhome isn’t difficult, it is important to be methodical if you aren’t going to face unforeseen problems during your first springtime trip!

Cleaning and preserving

Cleaning your caravan with a proprietary shampoo will remove a season’s worth of tree sap, bird droppings, and traffic film. Sealing and polishing it with a good caravan wax will then help repel the same contaminants throughout the winter, keeping your caravan or motorhome in the best possible condition.

Pressure washers have their place in cleaning the underneath of your caravan or motorhome of mud and salt but should not be used to clean the body; high-pressure water will find its way past gaskets, seals and trim leading to a damp interior.

Caravan covers can often cause more problems than they prevent, but if you must use one please make sure that it is made of a breathable fabric and held tautly in place to prevent it chaffing.

Read our tips for preventing damp in caravans.

Chassis preparation

Your caravan’s tyres may develop flat spots if it is left in one position for too long. To prevent this you can pump them up to their maximum recommended pressure and jack the wheels up from time to time and rotate them.

For long-term storage, lower the corner steadies and either chock the wheels or jack them up. Leave the handbrake off to prevent it sticking in place. 

Electrical system

Smear the inside of your 12N/12S or 13-pin sockets with a little Vaseline to prevent corrosion and keep out moisture. Switch off every electrical appliance and then disconnect the caravan’s batteries to prevent them draining.

Remember, if you have a tracker or alarm fitted, removing the batteries will stop it working, which will probably invalidate your insurance. In this case you will either need to switch batteries periodically or find a way to keep the system charged.

Alternatively, if you can leave your caravan plugged into the mains you will be able to run the heating from time-to-time to keep the caravan dry and well aired. It will also keep the batteries topped up.

Top tips for towing a caravan.

Gas system

Either close the gas regulators fully or unclip them from the cylinders. The gas cylinders can then be stored in the caravan’s dedicated storage locker. If you store them elsewhere, it is better to keep them outside rather than in a shed or garage in case of gas leaks. 

Read our guide to maintaining your caravan.

Interior fixtures and fittings

Thoroughly cleaning the interior of your caravan will help you spot any problems, enabling you to repair or replace any broken fixtures or fittings before the start of the new season.

Cushions should either be stored inside the house, or propped up in the caravan to allow air to circulate, something that is just as important for your fridge and which can be achieved by leaving the door ajar.

The same goes for drawers and cupboard doors, while spring-loaded blinds should be left in the up position to avoid stretching the spring.  Curtains can be left closed to prevent the sun damaging or fading interior fabrics and surfaces.

Remove all valuables like TVs, digital radios, and microwave ovens and store them safely in your house. It’s much better to avoid drawing the attentions of a thief in the first place than it is to have to deal with the aftermath…

Top tips for preventing a break-in.

Plumbing systems

Open all taps to drain the water from the storage tank and pipework. Once it’s all clear, remove drain plugs, empty and thoroughly clean the grey water tank and remove the water filter. Put plugs in all shower trays and sinks to prevent any foul smells coming up through the pipes.

Cassette toilets and the waste tank should be emptied, flushed through and cleaned. The seal between the toilet and the waste tank can either be left partially open to prevent it sticking or smeared with the appropriate seal lubricant. 

Awnings

Awnings need to be shampooed with a special awning shampoo, rinsed clean and dried before being loosely folded and stored in something dry where mice and rats can’t use it to make a snug winter home!

Motorhomes

As motorhomes and campervans are effectively a vehicle with a caravan attached, you’ll need to carry out all the points listed above, in addition to those listed in our article about putting your classic car into hibernation.

For more tips and hints, check out our caravan and motorhome section.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.