Ah, the sweet song of metal meeting. And now, the resistance and smell. Is that the corner stabiliser dragging or have we forgotten to release the drawbar handbrake, again?
As road travellers, we come to know our rigs, but no-one’s above missing the essentials. Never fear, a pre-trip check can help minimise road risks and keep embarrassing blunders at bay.
The pre-trip check is a quick, list-driven inspection that ensures all vehicle-related tasks are performed as expected. Create the checklist first, then perform the check without distraction, after you’ve packed just before you leave.
‘Friendly’ neighbours at camp? Avert eye contact if you have to. If they’re visiting at pack-up time, they’re breaking a sacred covenant anyway.
Tailor the checklist to suit your vehicle—and the model of caravan, fifth wheel rig or camper trailer, if you’re towing.
Building your list soon after taking ownership of your vehicle can help firm up your ‘pre-trip drill’. Good vehicle and RV instruction manuals can point you in the right direction.
If you’re towing, coupling up checks often top the list, and may involve eyeballing the vehicle-van power connection, jockey wheel, hand-brake, safety chains and gas bottles.
Did you remove all the chocs, and what about those corner stays?
You’ll also want to inspect the battery readout. Then, test the brake lights, brake controller controls, and the reversing camera, ensuring it’s working and facing the right way.
Remember, too, basic vehicle checks, such as oil and water and tyre pressures, all-round. Where required, look over the tie-down points on your roof-racks and other external accessories, including the towing mirrors.
During setup, do you require a winch or battery drill? Are those essential tools in their place?
Inside your RV or van, think about your gear. Is the fridge set for travel? Are all doors and drawers secure? Is all the canvas packed down. And are the windows and roof hatches closed?
Then, circle the rig for open windows, flapping canvas, misaligned awnings or ajar hatches.
The pre-trip checklist will vary according to a situation. Say, if you’re travelling through dirt, extra checks could involve scuppers or stoneguards. Or, that nuts and bolts are tightened.
If you’re en-route preparing to depart, a pack-down checklist will function in a similar way.
Whatever you list, keep it handy, say with your vehicle’s manual, or better still, plastered firmly on the inside front door of your RV.