Winterising your motorhome: Tips + Checklist

In late autumn the days get shorter, our sleeves longer and our jackets gradually thicker – a sure sign that winter is around the corner. Your camping vehicle also needs some extra TLC at this time of year, especially if you are not planning to use it again until spring.

In this article we explain how to properly winterise your motorhome and what to look out for. For a handy overview of the various tasks you can also download our detailed winterisation checklist free of charge.

Checklist: How to properly winterise your motorhome

Use the HYMER checklist to prepare your motorhome for winter.

Hibernation or winter camping?

Before taking all the necessary steps to winterise your motorhome, there is one key question to consider: are you planning to use the vehicle over the winter? Or will your motorhome spend this time in hibernation and remain unused until next year? 

The good news is that because every HYMER motorhome is already winterproof, you are already optimally prepared for both scenarios. However, if you are planning some excursions during the cold season you will also face some unique challenges. Our tips for winter camping in a motorhome will ensure you are properly equipped.

Important steps before hibernation 

Let’s assume you have decided to winterise your motorhome and not use it during the coming months. This means you now need to prepare the vehicle for the cold weather as well as a long spell during which the doors and windows will not be regularly opened.

Find a suitable parking space

Once winterised, you will need to find a place to leave your motorhome for several months with total peace of mind. There are several good options here.

For example, you could park your motorhome

  • inside a heated building
  • in an unheated barn, garage or hall
  • outdoors

In many towns and communities you will find people who rent out space for precisely this purpose.

Depending on the location, different measures must be taken to secure and protect the vehicle’s components. Inside buildings, it is not essential to cover your motorhome. On the other hand, if your vehicle is destined to spend the winter outdoors or in a particularly cold and draughty spot, it’s worth using a special tarpaulin.

As far as security is concerned, you should make sure that no unauthorised third parties can gain access to your motorhome over the winter. We have compiled the best motorhome security tips for you in a separate guide.

Time-saving tip: Take a quick look at your motorhome’s documentation before starting the winterisation process. If its annual roadworthiness inspection is due next spring, you can actually have this done before the hibernation period. This way, your motorhome will be ready to drive as soon as spring arrives and you won’t have to worry about taking it to a garage. 

Water and gas:
tanks, hoses and gas bottles

Before parking your motorhome in a location exposed to the cold, you should thoroughly empty both the water tank and all hoses as well as the siphons as part of the winterisation process. This is because any remaining water could freeze and expand over the winter. This in turn could damage both the tank and the hoses and lead to a nasty surprise come spring.

Therefore, an important step when winterising a motorhome is to drain all the water from all tanks (including the one for grey water!) and open the discharge valve on the boiler. All taps should also be opened. In models with a mixer tap, the water will not drain completely unless the handle is in the centre position between hot and cold water. In addition, the toilet’s solenoid valve should be actuated to allow the remaining water in the system to drain out as well.

Hygiene comes first! Clean the entire drinking water system thoroughly before the winter. A number of suitable cleaning agents and disinfectants are available for this purpose. Always be sure to follow the respective instructions for use.

When winterising a motorhome, gas is another important safety issue. After all, gas bottles can pose a risk of fire or even explosion. Therefore, always disconnect the hoses from the gas bottles and seal them using the provided safety caps. If gas bottles cannot be stored at your motorhome’s winter base, you should remove them from the vehicle and store them in a safe place. Otherwise, the gas bottles can also be kept in the vehicle’s gas locker.

By the way: in certain locations – for example in barns or warehouses – it is forbidden to store gas bottles in your motorhome. Therefore, check the rules and regulations thoroughly ahead of time to avoid any problems.

Electrical devices:
from the on-board battery and camping TV to kitchen appliances

When winterising a motorhome it is important to ensure correct handling of the on-board battery. It should be disconnected at the right time because, even during hibernation, there are a few silent consumers that can slowly drain the battery.

If the motorhome is parked indoors, the battery can safely remain in the vehicle. However, if the motorhome will be left outside or in a completely unheated building, it is advisable to remove the battery and store it at room temperature. Furthermore, recharging the battery every four to six weeks will protect it from deep discharge over the winter.

If your motorhome contains any electrical appliances that could be damaged by extreme cold, you should also remove them and store them at home. For example, this applies to

  • mobile radios
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • kitchen appliances
  • tablets
  • hairdryers

Most camping televisions can be safely left in the motorhome over the winter since these devices are typically designed to withstand sub-zero temperatures without any problems. However, it is a good idea to check whether this also applies to your model!

Important!

Before disconnecting the battery, first switch off all consumers. When disconnecting the on-board battery, first remove the negative cable and then the positive cable. This is essential to prevent a short circuit.

 

Manual interior cleaning of the side windows in the HYMER motorhome with a special cleaning product

Interior cleaning and care:
from surfaces and cupboards to textiles

With thorough winterisation, you will be able to use your motorhome to chase the first rays of spring sunshine without a problem – a wonderful feeling. However, to help rule out any unpleasant surprises it is important to clean your motorhome thoroughly before hibernation.

Inside, be sure to clean the entire kitchen and bathroom from top to bottom. Also, no food should be left in the cupboards. After defrosting and cleaning the refrigerator, switch it off and leave the door ajar over the winter. When cleaning the furniture, don’t forget to dust all the cushions and place them upright on the furniture. You should also lift up each mattress and rest it on one edge to ensure optimal air circulation.

Carpets and other textiles tend to become damp and mouldy over the winter, so it is a good idea to remove them from the motorhome and store them in a suitable place. If necessary, in winter it is worth additionally setting up a special room dehumidifier that controls the air humidity by means of a dry granulate.

Exterior cleaning and care:
from the paintwork to the seals and windows

When cleaning your motorhome’s exterior, it is essential that you remove all traces of dirt. Otherwise it will set in during the following weeks, which can lead to discolouration and thus ruin the vehicle’s appearance.

Carefully clean the bodywork as well as the windows, seals and wheel arch covers. Where necessary, use additional care products (note: only use suitable products, otherwise seals may be damaged or cracks may appear in windows). Any damage to the paintwork should be repaired and sealed with protective wax.

Furthermore, you should increase the tyre pressures by half a bar. This will lessen the load on the tyres, springs and wheel bearings. In addition, it will help to prevent flat spots during prolonged periods of non-use.

Ready for more cleaning tips?

Cleaning your motorhome is a major undertaking and there is a lot to think about. For this reason, we have created a detailed guide to cleaning a motorhome properly with numerous pictures, which you will find in the linked article.

Conclusion:
Winterising a motorhome is not rocket science

If you follow our tips, your motorhome will not only make it through the cold season unscathed, but will also be ready for your next adventure as soon as spring arrives. 

For a quick overview, please refer to our checklist, which summarises all the points mentioned in this article in a condensed format.

We hope your winterisation activities are successful and wish you safe travels in your motorhome after its winter hibernation!

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