Should a camper be used in the winter? If you were to ask me, I would say yes. Any vehicle does not fare well by being laid up for any period of time, especially classics, but camping in the winter is actually something you should all try. Can you imagine your favourite campsite in the autumn with those beautiful colours, or even covered in snow! plus the nights are longer so you get to spend more time by the fire or snuggled up in your van.
Whether you choose to lay up your camper for the winter, or get out and use it every weekend there are some essential actions you should take.
1. Storing over winter
Keep it dry
It is important to store the van out of the elements if possible. There are campervan/caravan storage companies who will look after your van during the winter if you don't have your own garage or space big enough. A quick google search for caravan, or even classic car storage solutions should find one local to you.
If you are not able to find storage then buying a cover for your van is the next best thing. It goes without saying that buying the best you can afford will give your camper the best chance of survival. Specialist parts suppliers such as Heritage parts centre sell breathable covers that are specific for your vehicle make, model and type (high roof for example).
Empty the tanks
Both fresh and grey water tanks should be cleared and cleaned. Not only does this give you a good chance to clean the tanks but it also means that there is no water sitting in the tanks and pipes. If the water was to freeze over the winter it could expand to the point where it could damage pipes and tanks.
If you have a portable toilet make sure to clean and empty it. You do not want to forget this! We have heard some horror stories.
Clear out the fridge of all food and drinks as this will reduce the chance of any rodents in the van over the winter, clean the fridge with an antibacterial cleaner, and leave the door slightly open as this will keep it ventilated.
Disconnect the Leisure battery
Removing the battery and storing it indoors means it will not be subject to extreme temperature changes throughout the winter.
Make sure the terminals are stored clean, dry and safe.
Disposable dehumidifiers can be found in your local pound shop or homeware store and reusable car dehumidifiers on Amazon. A budget solution can be found by filling an old sock with fresh Kitty litter!
All of these solutions are designed to extract dampness from the air in the van over the winter.
If you are storing your van on hard standing, you may wish to consider propping it up on axle stands. By doing this, you are allowing for the pressure to be taken off the tyre's which prevents flat spots and takes stress off the suspension components which could lead to sagging.
2. Using your van over winter
If you are planning on using the van over the winter for camping, a great way of keeping it warmer is to fully insulate it, you can find our video on how to do this as well as the products you will need here.
A night heater is a great way of increasing the temperature in the van when parked up. You can buy cheaper variants of diesel heater but we would recommend getting one from a reputable company. It will cost a little more money but when you are buying a product that combines electricity and diesel it is always best to get a well-made product. Kiravans supply a good midrange heater for between £400-£500 which we install at Combe Valley Campers.
Fitting winter tyres will allow for a safer drive during the colder months. They have a deeper tyre tread depth which provide more grip and handling on wet roads and they are made from a rubber compound which contains more silica. This means the tyre doesn't harden in colder temperatures unlike a summer or all season tyre.
Filling your bottle with a higher concentrate of screen wash is advised as this will prevent the solution from freezing and will clear an icy windscreen faster. Please refer to your chosen product for advised winter and summer ratios.
Service and preventative maintenance
Preventative maintenance is key when driving during the colder months. Daily checks of the fluids, tyres pressures and the bulbs are vital to a hassle free journey or commute.
If you do plan on using the vehicle daily, carrying out a service is a great way of ensuring that the engine is in optimum health before you subject it to the cold morning start ups and longer commutes in the dark.