Yes, it is that time again, winter is very much heading our way. For anyone with a vehicle, VW or not (apparently other vehicles are available!), winter in the UK is the worst time for metal on the roads.
If you have anything containing water, drain it all out. Water tanks, boilers, kettles. Don’t just empty the tank, drain the whole system including the pipes. Remember that water in pipes still expands when it freezes, not just in the tank. It also goes stale after a period of standing. If possible take the tank indoors to keep it above freezing and/or clean it thoroughly.
We use a mild Milton solution to thoroughly clean ours including the impeller that sits in our tank and its associated pipe and electric cable. Then we rinse everything and air dry it all. Other options are available too!
Leisure batteries like ambient temperatures and extreme cold will reduce their operational life. Keep them above freezing by removing them and keeping them in the garage or similar. Remember to keep the electrical contacts in the van safely insulated if applicable.
Keep those batteries charged using a trickle charger that is fit for purpose, which will also prolong their life.
Butane or propane tanks and bottles should be removed from your vehicle and stored safely with their openings closed properly – don’t leave the regulator open relying on the gas tap on the cooker as these can fail. Now is a good time to weigh them against their empty counterparts to know when you need to change them!
Now that you have opened up your van, removed the relevant tanks and bottles, you can get all misty eyed and miss the peace and tranquility of your van by getting in there and cleaning it all. It gives you a great sense of personal achievement as well as going into the winter with a nicely clean kitchen area, the fridge has been bleached and rinsed, and if applicable the bathroom, the shower and maybe the hot tub are all clean. Leave internal doors slightly ajar to keep mould and mildew at bay.
If possible, remove curtains, bedding, that emergency woollen blanket from Granny and take them indoors for a good wash or airing.
Don’t be tempted to leave doors open or windows more than cracked open. All sorts of miscreants can get in and eat your lovely interior.
If possible store your vehicle in a garage. If that is not possible, a car port will do a similar job. A breathable cover can be good but make sure it is listed as fully breathable otherwise moist air gets under the cover, rises when things warm up and the vehicle will get wet, holding that wet against the bodywork. Avoid a heavy cover for sure!
Tyres degrade from extreme temperatures and long periods of standing still. Winter does that very well! Inspect the tyres, check the pressures and consider putting the van on axle stands if you are not using it for a very long time, taking the wheels into the garage or shed. It also makes theft more difficult!
Lubricate everything. Hinges, moving parts, sliders, mechanical parts. Check the oil level. Use the right lubricant for the part in question. It will pay dividends next year and will keep water away, which is good for the life of the part.
Again, give the outside of your vehicle a proper clean, ideally by hand. Dry fully including the fiddly bits inside doors and between panels. Give it all a good quality wax polish. This also keeps water away and prolongs the panels and parts. It also makes you happy as you pass over the cold season when you don’t want to be away.
If you are an advocate of underseal and waxoil, get the old visible stuff removed and apply new underseal to dry clean parts. The jury seems out on the benefits of underseal against the downside of it trapping moisture but waxoil or similar applied hot into cavities must be better than not applying it?
Some texts state to start your engine once a month and run it on idle for 30 minutes. More than that is not necessary and I don’t touch our air cooled engine at all.
An oil change just before the winter alongside a fuel-storage additive in the fuel tank if you like that sort of thing.
We leave the main battery connected and the solar panel bolted to the roof of a van in a car port for the leisure battery. If that was not the case, we would trickle charge the main battery once a month over the winter. Again, this just makes sure that you don’t degrade the battery and end up having to replace it all of the time.