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Let’s learn some Van Maintenance!
Vans for adventure are not just recreational vehicles with wheels. These trucks are your home where you stay with your family. Your van would become your permanent residence if you eventually decided to go into full-time van living. The recreational vehicle is key to your livelihood as you only make your income by living in it. Unlike renting or buying an apartment, your van needs regular maintenance and cleaning. Proper maintenance of your van increases the value of the trailer if you have ever to sell it. Also, it makes your van sturdy and durable so you can ride around the world for an extended period.
Likewise, regular cleaning of your camper van reduces repair bills. In this post, we will review the various ways you can clean your van, strategies, why you need to maintain it regularly, and top tips for maintaining a van.
Cleaning your Van
Not only do you need to maintain your van mechanically, but also keeping it aesthetically is crucial. Unlike the mechanical ways of preserving a van, cleaning your campervans is simple and straightforward. This act can be done anytime, anywhere around the world. Likewise, you don’t need a third party to clean your van. If you are cleaning your recreational vehicle for the very first time, this guide is meant for you.
Wash the Wheels
Even though this might sound ridiculous, it is the best way to start to clean your motorhome. Unlike other parts of your van, the wheels are the dirtiest. Therefore, you need to wash them before moving to any other parts of the vehicle. If you had just driven for a couple of hours before, don’t bother to start the cleaning with the wheels as washing hot wheels will leave spots on it. So, it is important to park your van for a couple of hours before you commence with aesthetic maintenance.
Start by spraying the wheels, tires, and the wheels-arches. By doing so for an extended period, you can get rid of as much grit as possible. After spraying, you need a wash-cloth to clean the wheels with acid-free cleaner. For hidden places in the wheels, you can get an old toothbrush to remove the grit there. Wheels with metal rims should be scrubbed with a good quality polish alongside a clean duster as well as a soft cloth.
Wash the Van
After cleaning the wheels, tires, and wheels-arches, what is next up is washing the van. However, it is essential to know that cleaning the vehicle with an inappropriate soap would sink away from the design and protective wax coating of the campervan. So, you should avoid using materials such as surfaces or bath cleaners to scrub the van. Instead, stick to the recognized brand of car washing products. Generally, wash-mitten is an excellent item to clean your recreational vehicle. Not only is this material more comfortable to use than clothes or sponges, but it also eradicates grit from your car. Unlike the sponges or clothes, wash mitt has thicker piles that hold the dirt extracted from the vehicle instead of moving it around. Also, the wash mitten does not scratch the van painting like other items often do.
After deciding on the material to clean your trailer, then you need to get two buckets. While the first buckets should contain soapy water, the other should have clean water in it. After you are done washing every part of the van, you should clean the mitt in the bucket filled with clean water. Then, you can kick-off removing the campervan from top to bottom. This cleaning process is advisable as it would prevent you from having to clean the bottom twice. When you are done washing every nook and cranny of the van, you should rinse the whole vehicle with the clean water. To be sure that the water gets into all the crevices of the truck, you can rinse the car using a hosepipe.
Dry the Van
Having cleaned and rinse every nook and cranny of the campervan, then the next thing to do is to dry the water away from the vehicle. However, leaving your van to dry on its own might do a lot of harm to your car than good. For instance, trailers left to dry on their own are immediately covered underwater spots. Most of the time, removing these spots can be stressful, and you might have to purchase some materials to remove the spotting. So to avoid taking coal to Newcastle, you can use your chamois to dry the van as soon as possible after rinsing.
If you have no chamois in handy, drying clothes are also perfect for drying away water from your campervan. However, you need to be sure that the fabric doesn’t have any stain on it. Drying clothes such as old towels helps to remove water from your van as quickly as possible, but they might not be perfect for cleaning handles or polishing the mirrors. So, you can opt-in for a microfiber cloth for drying. After drying the exterior part of the van, you should open the front, side as well as the rear doors so you can wipe the inside door jams.
Polish the van
Even though this act is unnecessary, it is essential to van lifers, who always wish to give their vehicle a sleek and elegant look. Likewise, polishing the van adds more value to the car if you have ever to sell it. So it is vital to wash as well as polish your van always if you hope to keep the initial look of the vehicle. Although cleaning your van regularly catches one’s eyes, polishing it will bring the paintwork up to a good shine. There are hundreds of thousands of car polish on the market today. So, you should be extra careful when picking the right one for your recreational vehicle.
If the van’s brands recommend no polish for the vehicle, you choose a renowned car polish. However, you should apply polish in small sections to every part of the trailer. As soon as you are done using the car polish to a section, you should quickly polish that area before proceeding to another part. At least two coats of car polish should be applied to your vehicle to keep a protective barrier on the paintwork.
Van Life Maintenance Tips
There are essential van maintenance tips to keep your recreational vehicle on the road and working for an extended period. Let’s consider some of these crucial tips.
Tires are the most critical parts of a campervan when it comes to maintaining it mechanically and aesthetically. No matter where you travel around the world, tires are the only part that comes in contact with the road. Tires also go a long way in determining your safety on the road. So, keeping them clean is as essential as washing any other parts of the vehicle. Before you set out on your trip to the museum, make sure you carry out a thorough check on the condition of each tire. Things to check on the condition of the tires include unsecured or missing wheel-nuts, no visible cord as well as no bulges. It is also essential to check for no cuts on each of the tires.
You should replace the tire with any of these issues as soon as possible. It is essential always to do a visual inspection on each of the tires at least once a fortnight. This action will allow you to easily detect the tire with little or no air in it. While doing this, more emphasis should be placed on the rear tires as they are more under pressure than the front ones. Since your beds, kitchen, bathrooms, and other heavier items are placed behind the rear doors, and rear tires lose their powers very fast. So, a complete check should be done on the rear tires, if possible, every time you are starting a journey.
You might find it very difficult to get a perfect tire replacement anytime you need to do so. This is a result of hundreds of thousands of tires on the market today. However, you can always search the manufacturer’s handbook or the National Tire Service tool whenever you need to find the correct tire pressure for your recreational vehicle. After discovering the proper tire pressure, then you can take your van to a fuel garage or use a tire pressure gauge to see the current level. Make sure the tire has enough thread when you are checking the RV’s tire pressure. At least the burden should not be less than 1.6mm to set out for any adventure or trip. However, it is safe to have a minimum of about 3mm or more for excellent performance.
For some states in the US, it is an illegal offense to have one of your van’s lights in poor conditions. I recalled how a couple who were on an adventure in San Francisco violated this order, and they had to pay some bucks for a fine. Therefore, having all the lights of your campervan in good condition is as vital as having the van itself in a better state. Always test all the lights of your vehicle by turning them on during your spare hours. While you do so, you can ask your partner to inspect the brake lights for you.
You should immediately replace the bulb of any light that you find faulty. If after replacement, the light is still in poor condition, then, the light needs special attention than the basic one. So, you need to take your van to a garage where the problem will not only be inspected but also fixed. Most of the time, faulty lights are as a result of wiring issues. Besides making sure that your lights are working correctly, you also need to always clean them. For van life travelers on an adventure to places like the deserts, make sure the lights are cleaned regularly as the dusty and sandy particles around the site might have negatively affected their performances. Vans with poor light performance can be dangerous to drive around, especially in the night or strange places.
I have read many questions on google asked by van lifers about how important it is to always maintain the door. Most times on adventures, people give little or no regard to cleaning the doors both mechanically and aesthetically. However, it is essential to know the van’s doors are much more critical for your safety while on the road. This is because these parts are not only subjected to every day slamming but are also pulled up regularly. So, you need to always carry out a careful search on the front, side as well as the rear doors. This should be done quickly and correctly.
Of these doors, more importance should be placed on the rear doors. This is because these doors are designed to open in different lengths. While some rear doors open up to 270 degrees, others open up to 180 degrees. Therefore, you need to make sure that they all sit along the outside of the RV. Although not all vans come with side doors, it is essential to frequently check that the side doors stay on their runners as you close or open them. These same procedures apply to maintain your front doors.
Another reason why maintenance of the doors is essential is that these parts go a long way in keeping you safe while you are on the road. Since you would be spending most of your time outdoors, you are easily exposed to robbery, burgling, assaults, and many other dangerous activities. So, the only way you can safeguard yourself on the road has solid and sturdy doors that keep you safe from these creatures. Therefore, you should ensure that the front, side as well as rear doors are securely locked. So, to keep not only you and your partner safe but also your property, you should invest your time as well as money in additional security measures such as alarms, deadlocks, and many more while you are on wheels.
Under The Bonnet Maintenance
Even though maintaining the bonnet, battery, engine, as well as other moving parts of the campervan, requires technical measures, there are still some simple tasks to carry out on your vehicle before moving it to the garage. Van life travelers can help to maintain everything under the bonnet in between services. The first task to be carried out is a complete inspection for leaks under the campervan. You should always take your time to investigate if you find out that there is a puddle of fluid on the road. If the problem is basic, you should ensure you fix it before hitting back on the road. However, if you find the issues requiring professional support, don’t hesitate to take your campervan down to the garage for an expert in detecting that problem and finding a lasting solution to it.
The puddle of fluid can be windscreen washer fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, water or coolant, or oil. So, if you see any of these fluids on the road, you can easily sense the source and fix the issue. You should always consult the manufacturer’s handbook to get the correct tank with the leaking fluid. Perhaps, the manufacturer’s manual can also contain for solution for each leaking fluids. Apart from the liquids, the battery is also an essential moving part of giving complete attention. Make sure you regularly inspect the conditions of the cables as well as terminals before setting out every day. When you detect any built-up residue, breaks, or creaks, immediately put the campervan into a garage for professionals to find and fix.
Don’t also forget to investigate the condition of the air filter after all the fluids are at optimum levels, and the battery is performing effectively. Although the location of this part varies from one type of van to another, it is most of the time found under some casing. You can remove the air filter by either unscrewing or unclipping the bolts. Make sure you often change the air with a service. However, you might have to install a new one if you find the old filter quite dirty. You can always search the manufacturer’s manual for a step-by-step process on how to put an air filter in place.
Windscreen maintenance is more critical in raining periods or winters. So, if you are going on a van life adventure to Dakota, make sure that your windscreens are effectively working. No matter the type of recreational you are moving around with, the driver visibility is imperative. Make sure you frequently inspect the windscreen washer fluid level to find out if the wipers are effectively working. For instance, the washers need to be pointing at the windscreen and, at the same time, cleans a large percentage of the fluid.
The wipers become ineffective if they leave squeak while cleaning the windscreen. So, you need to replace them as soon as possible.
A faulty campervan will not bring many uncomfortable situations to you while on the road but can easily terminate your trip prematurely. So, you need to pay more attention to cleaning as well as maintaining the performance of your van. Vans properly maintained require little or no repair on the road and come in great value if you ever have to sell them.