Camper Trailers Tech Tips

camper trailer maintenance






camper trailer maintenance


A simple regular maintenance schedule for your camper trailer will keep it in tip top condition and no doubt give you an enjoyable trouble free weekend or holiday. Things are often only thought about when they break and more often than not in the most inconvenient of places like on the side of the track in the middle of nowhere.

Servicing your own wheel bearings as part of your trip preparation or part of a regular maintenance schedule is one job you should feel confident in doing if you own a camper trailer. This way you know the job has been done properly and what state the bearings are in. How to breaking down your trailers hub is knowledge that could be very handy on the side of the track, not only for you, but perhaps in helping someone else that is in trouble miles from anywhere.

How often should you inspect and service your wheel bearings? If you inspect your wheel bearings and regrease them before a major trip you know what they look like. Don’t just throw more grease in.

This also gives you a good opportunity to check the condition of the axle while you have everything apart. Pay particular attention to the area where the 'step' has been machined to receive the wheel bearings as this is the most likely place for a fracture to occur. The fracture usually starts on the bottom so it is not seen until it is too late.

Adjustment of your trailer brakes will see the camper stopping in an emergency situation as it should. At times the drums can often be reduced to what resembles a sheet of corrugated iron all too quickly in our off road conditions of mud and dust. It is only a simple matter of having the drums machined smooth. The brake shoes are then rebonded to suit the machined drums.

Check for leaks and the condition of the hydraulic lines if you have hydraulic overrider brakes and the tension on the mechanical handbrake & throw a bit of grease in the grease nipples of the overrider coupling & check the tension of the bolts.

On electric brakes check the condition of the magnet as well as the correct adjustment & the handbrake. If you have overrider brakes hit the grease nipples with a grease gun and check the tension of the bolts.

Check the condition of your tyres particularly on the inside wall where damage can be hidden from view. Uneven tread wear can show you have a bent axle. Tyre age is also an important factor. A trailer tyre can be years old and have minimal kilometres, however tyres do have a life expectancy of around 5 to 6 years owning to deterioration of the rubber compound. Check for tyre splitting which will show its age. Make sure the tyre pressures are correct for the load carried and your spare is also inflated. If the spare is locked do you have the key on your keyring and a second hidden as backup. While you are there check the tightness of your wheelnuts.

Don’t forget the suspension. Make sure all nuts and bolts are at correct tension on the leaf or coil suspension as well as the shocks. Check rubber mounts are in good condition. Look over the leafs and coils themselves for any sign of wear or cracks that could let you down.

Underneath the camper can be the most neglected area. Flying rocks on dirt roads will see the paint on the underside of your camper severely chipped and quickly removed. Exposed steel gives rust the perfect opportunity to start and without attention can become a major job, especially if you enjoy camping on the beach.

You can start by giving the underside a rub over with a wire brush. There are specific products like ‘rust neutralisers’ on the market which will stop the rust from further progress. A paint such as ‘Killrust’ can then be used which will provide excellent protection. A ‘body deadener’ could be applied to provide a soft surface for rocks to bounce off. Don’t use a hard setting product which forms a concrete coating. If this surface is chipped it will allow moister between the coating and steel providing the perfect environment for rust to grow.

Inspect the chassis for cracks & look for metal fatigue which could show up as flaking paint or radiating lines from the stress point.

It is a good idea also to air the canvas from time to time. There is nothing worse than to open your camper & find mould growing on it. Made sure the canvas is well and truly dry before packing it away. His might take a good day in the sun rather than an hour or so. Not everyone has the room to fully erect their camper at home. You can open it best you can and prop the canvas as best you can to allow good air circulation, throwing the awnings over the fence or on the clothesline.

If your watertank has a steel stone shield around it, check for stones lodged between the poly tank and the shield that could wear though the tank. Same goes for plastic jerry cans that are not moved from their holders.

It is a must to keep your drinking water in good condition. There are two thoughts on whether you should keep you tank full or empty between trips. If using your camper every few weeks you could simply top it up, then on the other hand if you are using it once every couple of months, it may be a better option to drain it.

If you want to clean the tank, do not use bleach as it can upset your stomach. You can use bi-carb at a cup per 10 litres, ‘Milton’ baby bottle sterilising solution or watertank sterilizing tables from the camping shop. These can also be used to remove the plastic taint from the water.

After adding the cleaning solution let it sit for a while and then the tank must be flushed a few times. To remove all the water it may be best to remove the inlet hose at the tank & raise the opposite side wheel.

Gas hoses can become perished, the same as your tyres and usually become sticky as they start to deteriorate. Check for cracks & leaks throughout the system with soapy water. Bubbles will show if there are any leaks.

Check the capacity of your onboard battery once a month or better still leave the battery permanently hooked up to a multi stage battery charger. This will automatically top the battery up to full capacity ready for that quick trip at a moments notice.

Follow all 12 volt leads checking for cuts or abrasions as well as the trailer plug & the Anderson plug if you have the campers battery hooked up for charging via the vehicle while driving.



axle & bearing inspection

suspension inspection

check shocker rubber mounts



bearing inspection

battery topped up

watertank inspection


more reading

spares for the camper
axle inspection
servicing wheel bearings
adjusting camper trailer brakes
replacing that wheel


by Rob


may 2010