routine van servicing

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 15:13
ThreadID: 105989 Views:2456 Replies:9 FollowUps:6
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I have a 2.5 yo van which has travelling about 20000 kms. It has had one service at about 10000 kms. Van is stored in shed when not in use. Wheel bearings have never been immersed in water.
My questions:
1. how often do people service vans?
2. what is done at these services?
3. do the silicone joints on the roofline deteriorate? If so what and when to do?
4. lifespan of wheel bearings and brakes (roller rocker suspension)? Do the brakes need adjustment every 12 mths or so?
5. do the foam seals around the windows need replacing?
6. any other suggestions?
I want to look after the van and would be happy to repair/replace to prevent water ingress.
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Reply By: John and Regina M - Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 15:32

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 15:32
Depends on the make and model, and year, as you don't say if it is secondhand.
Some are made better than others, some by a lot, which determines service and repair/replacement intervals.
And some have had a harder life than others, which also needs factoring in.

So a bit more info would be handy.
AnswerID: 525274

Reply By: Skulldug - Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 16:01

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 16:01

I love your Crusader Inspiration! We have a the same van delivered at Easter last year (now called Excalibur). They are an excellent van.

I will have it serviced approx every 10,000km but I don't think that is necessary. My last van had one bearing replacement in 9 years. It had done around 30,000 km at that stage.

I do basic safety checks each trip. All wheel nuts as well as tow hitch nuts, chains, tow ball and hitch as well as all the connections esp the breakaway battery. When filling up, I do a circuit of the van and touch the hubs. They should all be about the same temperature. TPMS takes a lot of worry out of travelling.

This is my first full height van so I don't have any knowledge of silicone joints. I think any van can have some water ingress. I bet you would smell it before you noticed it visually.

Happy travels.

AnswerID: 525277

Follow Up By: Member - iijmartin - Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 17:35

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 17:35
Thanks Skull,
We have been reasonably happy with the van, bearing in mind there are good and bad vans in most van makes. Have been recently doing some 12v modifications - Sirocco fans, gas heater, fridge fans, extra 12 v points. This has allowed me limited access to roof and wall cavities. Am a tad disappointed I have not spotted one piece of insulation. Bit ordinary for a van sold with fully insulated walls and roof. The finish, that the eye can see, is generally good.
All the best with your Excalibur
FollowupID: 807182

Reply By: baz&pud (tassie) - Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 16:32

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 16:32
Hi Yu,
We have our van serviced every year, no matter how far it has travelled (usually in the area of 20000 each year) in fact it was done the week before last by an x caravan builder.

The work carried out included, repacking the bearings, checking the brake pads for wear and the connection of brake wiring, rotating the tyres, greasing of the tregg fitting, checking all bolts under the van, checking the anode in the hot water, and a general over all inspection of the van for any faults.

As far as the silicone joints on the roof, have never had a problem, and we are on our third van.

Life span of bearings varies, service person would advise on replacement, and brake lining adjustment would be the same.

Foam seals around the windows would need replacing at some time but would think that would be a few years down the track.

Hope this helps.
Go caravaning, life is so much shorter than death.

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AnswerID: 525279

Reply By: 410 - Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 17:24

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 17:24
Hi Ian,
Servicing is important depending on the kms but most say every 20,000 kms depending on water crossings and dust. I also get the tyres balanced when servicing about every 10,000kms, check brakes and repack bearings. Repacking bearings has to be done correct as to tight or loose can create problems. Best to get these jobs done a couple of weeks before you go and take the van for a short run and re check bearings and brakes. If travelling a lot I like to get under every week and just check thinks out including wheel nuts. It is much cheaper and safer to notice a problem before not after. Also found out if travelling and you need a service on the van SHOP AROUND as I met a lovely old gentleman and he told me that they charged him over $600 to check brakes and repack bearings ! Dubbo I think it was.

AnswerID: 525281

Follow Up By: Member - iijmartin - Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 17:41

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 17:41
Richard, thanks for that. I regularly get under the van to check. Sad to hear that there are service centres taking advantage of elderly vanners.
FollowupID: 807183

Follow Up By: Gronk - Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 18:51

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 18:51
It really isn't hard to do your own servicing..

In fact it really is good to be able to do it yourself in case things happen on the road that need attention..

Checking wheel bearings usually doesn't even require undoing them, just taking off the dust cover and checking the colour of the grease and spinning the wheel by hand and listening and feeling for any roughness.

They do not require regreasing as often as people think......and just shoving grease in the hub area does nothing..

But, replacing the bearing if at all suspect of them is a is repacking the bearing properly....again not hard at all if shown how ( u tube has plenty )
FollowupID: 807187

Reply By: Member - Bruce and Di T (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 20:56

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 20:56
We have a Crusader X-Country and have it serviced after every major trip, but just before we head off again as the person who does our servicing advised that was the best option. Ours is not quite 2.5 years old and we have had it serviced three times. We prefer to ensure everything we have is maintained to the best possible state we can.

AnswerID: 525295

Reply By: The Bantam - Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 22:52

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 at 22:52
The notion of Km bassed servicing on caravans is in my opinion little more than a fabrication.

There is nothing in a caravan that requires regular servicing like you would expect in a motor vehicle....there is no oil or coolant that deteriorates, gets consumed or needs to be replaced.

This regular repacking or replacement of wheel bearings to I believe to be completely unnecessary in most cases.

Most of the things we hear of people gettng done for an annual caravan service would not be touched for 100 000 km if ever on a passenger car.

On the other hand there are simple checks that every caravan ( or trailer) owner should be able to do and far more regularly than once a year.
Checking wheel bearings is one of these things.

Of course if you drive thru deep water or mud or do lots of sand work, its probably wise to at least take the wheel bearings appart and inspect every trip, if its a long trip with some 4wding and long bitumen road trip home...perhaps before you head home.
Repack or replace bearings only as required.

Perhaps this "servicing" should be considered more like safety checks or pre trip/ post trip checks..

On the matter of silicon and other sealers degrading.....damn straight they degreade, and some faster than others......but in general most people give it no thaught what so ever.
If it is degraded, well what are you going to do.....remake every single joint on the caravan.
as for the seals on doors and windows...of course they have a finite life, but most give them no thaought till thay fail.

If you have problems with either of the above on a van less than 5 years old......sell the bastard quick and don't buy that brand again

AnswerID: 525304

Follow Up By: Member - iijmartin - Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 at 11:41

Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 at 11:41
Bantam, that's the straight to the point / no bull opinion I wanted to hear.
FollowupID: 807259

Reply By: Brian 01 - Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 at 07:56

Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 at 07:56
One of the main points to check, especially on the cheaper vans with simple load sharers, are the spring shackles.
Some vans are carrying a heck of a lot of weight, and the shackles are often not lubricated sufficiently if at all, and can fail disastrously.
I have seen some vans less than 5 years old where the shackle bushes have been completely worn through.
AnswerID: 525308

Reply By: Slow one - Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 at 09:11

Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 at 09:11
Ian and Kathleen,

I travel between 20,000 and 30,000K per year and do my own servicing and checks.

Every trip I give the window seals and locks a spray of easy glide from selleys. This product doesn't collect dust. Service the toilet as per makers instructions. Bit of silicon grease on the flap and seal.

I crawl under and check springs and shackles + grease the bushes. I check the brake linings and adjust after I have looked at them. While I am there I have a quick look at the bearing rollers and the colour of the bearings and grease. Adjusting the wheel bearings is pretty straight forward. If you are unsure there is probably 100 vids on u tube you could check out. I check everything under the van for anything that may be loose or damaged. I have a good look at the tyres as well.

When travelling when we stop I just walk around the van and feel the temps of the tyres and bearings. Remember the ones on the sun side will be hotter. On all my vans the bearings have run very cool.

I go around an check all the cupboard door hinges and locks to make sure they are not going to fall off. There present van I have has piano hinges which are excellent.

Have a good look at the awning making sure the action is smooth and no fixings are loose. Some of the carefree awnings tend to lose the screws off the ends of the barrel.

I have all day to check items so I can be pretty thorough. Costs me nothing.

On thing I found when I crawled under the new van, was a screw thread resting against the side of gas line. I fixed that pretty quickly. They had screwed from above and just missed the line.

A couple of weeks before taking off I also check the fridge, a/c, dunny, pump and all electrics are working. Nothing worse than setting off only to find you have a problem.

I haven't had problems with the foam seals around the windows or the roof sealing. Last van I had for 7 years and prior to that many other old vans up to and exceeding 20 years old. That doesn't mean I don't have a look up there to see if anything is a miss.

AnswerID: 525311

Follow Up By: Member - iijmartin - Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 at 14:16

Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 at 14:16
Thanks Slow One,
A question - will you feel the wheel bearings heating up by placing your hand on the decorative mag wheel hub cover? Or is that too far away from the bearing?
I always check this cover when I pull up.
FollowupID: 807264

Follow Up By: Slow one - Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 at 15:26

Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 at 15:26
I normally feel the heads of the wheel nuts but the plastic bearing cover will be hotter also. Naturally I don't check them if I have been braking as that can give a false reading.
FollowupID: 807267

Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 30, 2014 at 11:03

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014 at 11:03
About the only thing on a van that requires servicing before a trip is the suspension.

A re grease of every nipple would be advisable in the weeks prior to take off and especially the rocker on dual axle leaf spring setups. That rocker pivot pin does more work than any other greaseable joint and are also prone to blocking in the grease port if not maintained regularly.

Remember, if you cannot get grease in then you can confidently assume there is no grease in there and it therefore needs to be removed for servicing immediately.

The wheel bearing would need to be inspected and repacked if necessary about once every 25,000K. When buying a second hand van from Watsons at Coffs Harbour I asked if they would inspect the wheel bearings and repack them. I was advised that they do not repack the bearings but replace them as they consider it is not cost effective to repack them. Good philosophy I thought.

It is a good idea to carry a full set of replacement bearings and be familiar with their fitting procedures, if only for peace of mind.

Bantam is right, if it were a car you would not bother with these inspections in such low Ks but the more you look and inspect the more familiar you become with the vehicle. Most vans sit around for most of their life and problems can sneak up on you.

Let's face it, no one wants to be dragging around the country side a potential catastrophe waiting to happen. So long as the running gear is OK you can limp into any town for repairs to the body. Suspension problems may mean a tow so keep the suspension and axles up to the mark.

About the only major problems I have encountered, and on two occasions, was a broken main leaf on dual axle caravans. In both cases it was a rear left spring. I don't know if that is significant or just a coincidence. In both cases the springs were upgraded to heavier units all round.

The first occasion was our 2000 Gazal Champion in 2009 80K south of Walcha near Nowendoc (middle of nowhere) and the second was the mate in his 2006 Jayco Sterling in Nov 2013 jsut south of Toowoomba also in an isolated spot. Luckily in both cases we were within 80 kilometres of repair workshops or parts suppliers and in both cases we were traveling together and were able to lend support to each other to do the repairs. This is the benefit of traveling in with another couple or in small groups.

Cheers, Bruce.

At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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AnswerID: 525370

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