It can happen to any caravan owner – you’re driving along and suddenly feel something isn’t right with your touring caravan. Don’t worry, there are ways of remedying this common problem without it turning into a huge disaster.
Firstly, there are certain things you can do to reduce the chances of getting a puncture in your caravan tyre. These include:
• Checking tyre pressure before every trip and monthly if the caravan is not in use for long periods
• Covering tyres when the caravan is parked to prevent rubber damage from UV radiation
• Replacing tyres every five years, whatever their condition
However, despite your best efforts, you cannot make your caravan tyres completely puncture-proof, and there may be times you’re caught out by a tear or hole in the tyre that you couldn’t have prevented.
Fixing a puncture
Caravan tyre sealants are available in high street motor stores, enabling you to fix a puncture on a tyre so it can be reused. This is useful if you do not have a spare tyre and need to drive to safety. The sealants are injected through the valve in the tyre. Some sealants stay in a liquid form until the tyre is punctured, which can be messy when the tyre is eventually replaced. Please note sealants will not help in the event of blowouts.
Removing a caravan’s tyre
1. Making sure you’re in a safe place, switch on the hazard warning lights and place your warning triangle several metres behind your caravan. If possible, drive off the road (this is particularly relevant if your puncture is on the right)
2. Apply your towing vehicle’s handbrake and the caravan’s handbrake fully. If you’re on sloping ground, wedge the towing vehicle’s wheels so it does not roll away – handbrakes cannot be relied on 100%. Make sure your caravan stays hitched to your towing vehicle throughout the wheel replacement process.
3. If replacing the tyre, remove your spare wheel from where it is stored and check it is inflated to the right pressure. Depending on where the spare is stowed, this can present you with considerable problems.
a) If the spare wheel has been stored beneath the chassis, it is unlikely it will be inflated to the correct pressure due to its inaccessibility.
b) If the spare wheel is on the caravan’s left side, you will need to make enough space to slide it out. Obstacles on the roadside, kerbs, trees or embankments could all hinder your efforts.
c) You may need to jack the vehicle in order to get the tyre out.
4. Remove the wheel cover and loosen all of the nuts slightly. Slacken all the nuts on the wheel that is to be removed.
5. Refer to your caravan’s handbook to discover the correct jacking point. This may be a fortified plate situated near the axle beam, or it may be the axle beam itself.
6. Jack the caravan until the wheel clears the ground, then remove all the nuts. Place the spare wheel on and replace and tighten the nuts as much as possible.
7. Lower your caravan, remove the jack, then screw the wheel nuts in to the required torque using a wrench.
Things to remember
• On motorways or dual carriageways, you may be passed by heavy vehicles while dealing with your puncture. Their passing will cause your caravan to rock from side to side. An axle stand placed below the axle can prevent your jack from becoming dislodged.
• Call in at a garage or service centre to get your tyre repaired as soon as possible to avoid further problems.