It is important to make sure you perform all necessary checks before you leave on a caravan or RV adventure. Prior to leaving home or travelling to your next destination, we have compiled a pre-trip RV checklist for you to ensure nothing is forgotten before driving off.
Firstly, Know the height of your RV to ensure safe clearance on your routes and stops.
💡 While conducting these checks, it is a good idea to have a physical checklist printed as well as a second pair of eyes to prevent any oversights – especially if your RV has been in storage for some time.
RV pre-trip interior check
Secure any loose items or luggage. Make sure all internal doors and cupboards are closed and secured - including the refrigerator door. All internal loads and loose items in the caravan must be secured, this includes any bags, the TV, microwave plate, etc. Disconnect the TV. Set the fridge to 12V mode so that it remains cool during your trip, and engage the travel catch. Wind the TV antenna down and secure it in the travel position. Make sure counter tops, range top, table tops and shelves are cleared of unsecured items.
Secure all vents/ hatches, skylights and window mechanisms but be sure to leave window shades open. Then, exit the caravan and lock the door behind you.
Interior check, done!
RV pre-trip exterior check
Now it's time to make sure the outside of your caravan is ready to take off.
Check that your vehicle and trailer’s wheel nuts have been tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Check operation of all lights and flashes and operation of foot break and parking break.
Pack away all power cords, water hoses or other cords. Make sure all external (storage) doors and compartments are locked and gas taps and cylinders are turned off. Remember to drain the water system before disconnecting it. Ensure all waste tanks are empty and the water pump is turned off. Secure all awnings and make sure all straps and handles are tightened. Check that the entrance step and stabiliser legs have been retracted.
If you have used wheel chocks, remember to remove them before leaving.
If you are travelling with a caravan, ensure your caravan is correctly coupled to the tow vehicle. Check that the fixing nuts on fixed tow balls have not come loose and check the nose weight, ensuring it is levelled. Then check your safety (break away and secondary) cables are correctly attached. Two chains are normally fitted. Crisscross the chains and use ‘D’ shackles to connect them to the secure points on the tow bar. Check that the hand break and motor mover is disengaged and remember to connect the caravan’s electronics to the car.
From there check that the brake lights, taillights, indicators, reverse lights, and clearance lights are all operating well. You will need a spotter for light checks. Ensure the jockey wheel is raised and secured. The jockey when must be removed from its clamp and stored in the boot of the caravan or locked in the travelling position if of a swivel mount type.
Make sure towing mirrors are fitted and adjusted. You must be able to see clearly down both sides, as well as behind your caravan.
Move to the wheels of the caravan. These are fundamental to road safety. Check that all wheel fixing bolts are correctly tightened. Tighten them with a torque wrench to 90ft lb or 125nm. It is recommended that nuts should be re-tightened at intervals of 100km for the first 400km and every 1000km after that.
Check tyre pressure and make sure that the tyres are not worn and can still manage the trip. You can check your caravan manual or on the sidewall of the tyre for the correct tyre pressure. Make sure that there are no cuts or cracks in tyres and ensure they still have good tread.
Make sure you allow yourself enough time to complete all checks, as you would not want to have to stop on the side of the road to make adjustments or worse!
Lastly, to avoid the embarrassment of missing something such as a forgotten attached cable, take one last walk around.
❗ This is only a guide. You are responsible for the RV when in your care.
📝 Print the Caravans Away RV pre-trip checklist here.