INTRODUCTION TO MOTORHOMES
Nowadays, more & more people are embracing the choice of a 'Motorhome' styled vehicle to be their go-to solution for wheelchair accessible daily travel and holidays.
They provide a great way for you and the family to travel with convenience, in comfort and with style.
Before you decide on your ideal motorhome or caravan, you'll want to know which type of vehicle is a good match for your travel aspirations & lifestyle.
Here we answer some key questions to help you get on the road and off the beaten track.
TYPES OF MOTORHOMES
PANEL VAN CONVERSIONS
Panel van conversions are built inside the shell of the standard panel.
A panel van conversion is and ideal base vehicle for the iCruiser Day Van or Compact 1-2 berth Camper Van.
A panel van conversion is mainly based on either the Fiat Ducato, VW Caravelle, Mercedes Sprinter or Nissan NV400 hi-top van which is then fitted out inside to offer all the necessary equipment and accessibility required.
Our panel van conversions come with a wide range of finishes and specification.
A perfect tailor made day vehicle - that offers a little more than the standard wheelchair accessible vehicle.
Coachbuilt motorhomes are built on a van chassis and offer a large internal volume for wheelchair accessibility and accommodation. They are designed with long-distance travel and comfort in mind. They have several 'roof profiles'
Low-Line: As the name suggests these have a streamlined front overact pod which usually houses a storage locker.
High-line: These have a raised over-cab 'pod' sometimes referred to as a luton, that houses an over-cab baed.
Integrated: These have a slightly elevated overact 'pod' that usually allows for a clever drop down bed.
Before you embark on buying or even test-driving a motorhome it is important to evaluate your driving licence.
If you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997 (and you’re not 70 yet)
You generally automatically have a category C1 licence entitling you to drive a vehicle up to 7,500Kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) – the MTPLM of the motorhome.
If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B licence
You can drive a vehicle up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM
If you want to drive a heavier motorhome (up to 7,500kg) you will need to take an additional test to add the C1 category to your licence.
If you are over 70
At this point you need to renew your driving licence and if you use the standard renewal procedure you will lose your C1 entitlement allowing you to drive a motorhome between 3,500kg and 7,500kg. To avoid this you will need to ask your GP to fill in a medical report form D4, for which you may incur a charge.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT MOTORHOME
One of the main deciding factors will be how you want to use your motorhome.
Will the motorhome be your only vehicle?
If so, are you looking for a day vehicle? Or a vehicle with sleeping berths to use as not only a solution to daily travel, visiting friends and family etc. but also for holidays, trips away etc...
Will you travel all year round?
If you plan to travel all year round you will want to make sure your motorhome has excellent insulation. All motorhomes meet the Grade 3 standard for heating and insulation, meaning the interior warms up from -15 to -20 degrees centigrade in under 4 hours and the water system still works..... Perfect for Winter Travel or a trip to the Nordic Fjords.
Does your driving licence allow you to drive a motorhome?
Depending on when you passed your driving test and the size and MTPLM (weight of the vehicle) you may need to change/up-rate your licence (see Driving Licences above).
How many people will your travel with?
This will need to be considered if you need rear travelling seat-belts and wheelchair restraint systems.
How many 'Berths' (Sleeping Accommodation) will be required?
Who will be mainly using the motorhome?
Think about the travelling seating and sleeping configurations you need;
Do you need a double bed or two single beds?
Do you need the bed to be fixed or pull-out?
Do you require bunk beds for children?
How many people will be seated around the table? Do you need two separate areas or one main area?
Will you need to tow a car?
If so, it is important to know your Gross Train Weight, in essence the gross train weight is the weight the motorhome can tow behind itself. Usually, the Gross Train Weight will accommodate the use of a small loaded trailer, however, if you are considering towing a wheelchair accessible vehicle, it is important to choose a vehicle and trailer that falls well-within the available gross train weight. We at Coachbuilt will be able to assist with verifying the feasibility of towing.
STORING YOUR MOTORHOME
Another key factor to consider is storage, for when your motorhome or caravan is not in use.
If you have space and want to store your motorhome at home things to consider are:
Check that there are no obvious height problems
Check your local bylaws because there may be restrictions
Think about the security of your motorhome if it is parked on a driveway
If you are not fortunate enough to have space at home things to consider are:
Cost-effective options, such as finding a local storage centre. It would be worth having a look in your local area to identify who offers a motorhome storage service. We recommend that you check where it will be stored and check that the area is secure and what security measure they have in place. Find out what their policies and procedures are, for example can you access your motorhome at any time or are there closing hours, or do you need to contact them in advance to access your motorhome. You would also want to know about insurance and costs.
Whether or not you plan to use your motorhome over the winter months, draining water and removing items that can be frost damaged needs considering.
You can find additional advice on storing your motorhome and winterisation on The Caravan Club or The Camping and Caravan Club websites and there will also be a section in your motorhome handbook. There are various further security measures, such as Theftcheck, that you might want to consider.
GETTING ON THE ROAD
If you are not use to driving a large vehicle, setting off in your motorhome can be quite a daunting experience.
Both The Caravan Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club offer courses to gain confidence. You can find out more on their websites, or contact them by telephone.
Things to consider when driving a larger vehicle:
Check your licence covers you to drive the vehicle
Give yourself more time and space when you’re driving to manoeuvre around junctions and cars
You will need to anticipate and brake earlier in a larger vehicle and accelerate more slowly
Check the speed limits in relation to the vehicle weight, if it is more than 3,050kg the limits may be lower than for a standard car. You can find the latest information here.
Higher sided vehicles are affected more by the wind and can also cause and buffering effect to cyclists, motorbikes and horses when passing, so give them a wide berth and pass slowly
You may have a more difficult time maintaining acceleration on ascending grades and a more difficult time slowing down on descending
Know your dimensions incase you go anywhere with height, width or weight restrictions – think about low tree branches too
There are satellite navigation systems like Club Navigation that take into account the size of your motorhome and route you accordingly
Other essential points to consider for motorhome ownership are:
Maintenance and servicing. Not only will the base vehicle require servicing and MOT like a car, the habitation area must have an annual habitation service – The National Caravan Council (NCC) provide detailed information about the checklist involved.
Coachbuilt can complete all your servicing requirements, not only on the vehicle itself, but on all integrated healthcare equipment, lifts etc. Book online or contact a member of the Coachbuilt Team today.
Be aware of mould and mildew, which can be real problem if it take hold. It is import to clean and check your motorhome frequently and not bring items in that can by contaminated with mould and mildew
There are many accessories you can buy for your motorhome. The team at Coachbuilt GB have great advice on maximising your experiences and recommending the best equipment to enhance enjoyment of your motorhome.