winter camping in motorhome

Winter Camping: How to prepare your campervan for the cold season

Tips on how to maintain your campervan safely if you don’t want to use it or hire it out during winter.

You spend your summer exploring mesmerizing nature, breath-taking landscapes, pristine beaches, versatile jungles, and meeting inspiring people. All thanks to your campervan, your loyal companion of independence and freedom.

If your recent journeys gave you unconditional satisfaction, and you want to store your motorhome for the cooler time period in a safe place, we’ve got good advice for you. 

winter camping

Exterior / Interior Protection

The first thing to consider when winter camping, is exterior and interior protection. Investing in a custom-made cover for your camper and climate should do just that. A cover with straps for a tight hold on the camper, and zipped openings for smooth entering when on campsites.

The easy way out would be to get a plastic tarp to put over your camper’s exterior. However, it’s more likely to blow away with the wind and cause damage to exterior surfaces. 

Closing up any openings will prevent water damage to your camper’s interior. You can also avoid having rodents like squirrels and mice going on an exploration trip in your precious vehicle! In case you feel that it’s not enough to keep these pesky animals out, also consider:

–        Emptying food in your cupboards, drawers, and your fridge and freezer

–        Meticulously clean all your surfaces like floors, countertops, and cupboards

–        Planting mouse traps in and around your camper

–        Tightly close and lock your cable hatch to your electrical power socket

–        Stuffing your exhaust pipe with steel wool

If you plan to take your vehicle on a winter camping road trip, roads sprayed with salt can save your day, basically your knight in shining armor against black ice! However, de-icing salt damages the underbody, and the parts open to water spray. Wash the underbody and all the exterior surfaces with water after each drive on these roads. 

As you might know from winter drives in the past, condensation is very common on your windows. To ensure good interior air quality and avoid vehicle damage, sufficient ventilation is essential.

When heating the vehicle, the heater should be at the highest setting, and roof storage cabinets, curtains, and blinds should be opened. This ensures optimal ventilation. In the morning, lift up all cushions, air out storage boxes, and dry any damp areas to prevent any mold or mildew from forming. 

Empty all water systems

If you intend to store your camper over winter, pay close attention to this step! You need to locate all systems that contain water such as your plumbing system, waste tanks, fresh water tanks, and pipes.

Drain the water out of them and add antifreeze into the whole water system. If you want to do this on your own, inspect your camper’s manual for instructions on draining the water system. If you’re not comfortable doing it on your own, then going to a service center specialized in campers can provide this service for you.

Pro Tip: Avoiding this step can damage and break the pipes of your water system due to the remaining water which freezes. 

Prepare your tyres

It can be easy to forget one of the most important parts of your camper, the tyres. They keep your camper going. Unfortunately, they are prone to damage due to UV radiation from the sun, this is why you should preserve your tyres with covers. It can be possible that the cover for your camper exterior is not sufficient to protect your wheels too.

Moreover, make sure the air pressure on the tyres is in accordance with the specifications on the sidewalls. During storage, deflation of tires is not uncommon. Pump them up again if needed as soon as you want to embark on your next trip. 

If your sense of exploration is insatiable for winter camping, having snow chains ready to put on your tyres is a good option. It lets you transform your summer camper into a winter camper. To learn how to install snow chains on your tyres, check out this step-by-step guide.

Safely store your batteries

You already made sure that rodents are not scoping out your camper as their new residence to tear through wires. That’s key! It’s equally, if not even more important, to take care of your batteries, the source of energy for those wires. Freezing temperatures can induce damage to them. To prevent that from happening, batteries should be removed from the camper and stored in a cool place.

Pro Tip: Keeping your batteries fully charged is a good way to slow down the freezing process. If in doubt, check the battery life every 4 to 6 weeks with a voltmeter and recharge them as needed to maintain the full charge. 

Maintain camper fluids

Similar to your wheels, you want to maintain your campers fuel when winter camping, the bread, and butter for the engine! Add a fuel stabilizer to your tank, which prevents the excess fuel to turn bad over time. Do this according to the package instructions, and then fill the rest of the tank with gas. Afterward, start your engine and generator so that the stabilizer can make its way through your fuel system.

Consider changing the oil and oil filter in the engine and generator before storage. Used oil accumulates acid over time, which can cause corrosion, and therefore deterioration of pipes and fittings.

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Soufiane Ouhmad