With many people holidaying in the UK this year, there’s a strong chance we’ll see a lot more caravans hitting the road. And if you’re one of them, you might want to familiarise yourself with the MOT and service rules to avoid using it illegally. With that said, let’s take a look at the MOT and service needs for caravans in the UK.
Do caravans need a service?
First off, let’s get one thing straight: a service and an MOT are not the same. Many people confuse the two, but the truth is, they’re worlds apart.
Granted, they are both yearly inspections. But an MOT is a safety inspection to check that a vehicle is roadworthy and meets the standards set out by the government. If it fails to meet these standards, it’s illegal to drive it on the road. That is, until you retake the test and pass.
An MOT checks all your car’s vital components, such as the brakes, tyres, lights, exhaust, horn, registration plate, wipers, steering, suspension and more. But it doesn’t check your car’s mechanical condition. So, things like its engine, clutch and gearbox aren't included in an MOT.
As we said, a caravan doesn’t need an MOT. But it should be serviced every year to make sure it’s fit for the road. A service will help spot anything dangerous or anything that could potentially lead to a fault in the future. What’s more, it can help prolong its lifespan and hold some of its value when you come to sell it. While it’s not required by law, it is vital for your safety and that of others.
What does a caravan service include?
Caravans are built differently from cars, and because of this, more checks need to be done.
In a full caravan service, there are over 100 individual checks. This is down to the number of complex features, like water, gas and ventilation. Among the 100 checks are the hitch and chassis, gas and electric, water ingress, brakes and wheels, windows and doors, ventilation, fire and safety, bodywork and a carbon monoxide health check.
Because it’s such an in-depth inspection, it takes the mechanic around four hours to complete (presuming everything goes smoothly). A full car service takes around three hours to complete — for reference.
How much does a caravan service cost?
The price varies depending on where you go and which part of the UK you live in. The type of caravan also affects the price. For example, the average price for a single axle service is £150-200, whereas for a twin axle caravan it’s £200-250.
Changing your caravan tyres
There’s one main difference between car tyres and caravan tyres, and that’s their strength. The wheels on a single axle caravan need enough strength to support at least half the weight of the caravan. This translates to around a quarter of the weight of a typical car — so it’s a fair bit! Because of this, car tyres aren’t suitable for caravans, unless the supplier says otherwise.
Caravan-specific tyres don’t exist, mind. And most suppliers recommend van tyres, as they’re strong enough to hold the extra weight. For advice on picking the best tyres, head to your local First Stop store and speak to one of our professionals.
Checking your caravan’s tyres regularly is important, as they’re prone to flat spots because they’re often stationary for long periods. This, plus lots of use in short stints can cause them to deteriorate.
So remember, just because your caravan isn’t clocking up miles, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get your tyres checked. Regardless of whether it’s stationary or on the road, you should replace your caravan’s tyres every five years, seven at a push.