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Call for 'double-check' inspection checklists

CCA expresses disappointment over recurring design and quality problems

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THE Caravan Council of Australia has expressed regret that design and quality problems still exist with RVs.

Founder and qualified automotive engineer Colin Young (pictured) said it was "most disappointing" that the same type of complaints were being detected.

"It can only be hoped that the new requirements as legislated in the Road Vehicle Standards Act will help to prevent these defects from continuing," he said.

"But as is now well-known, not all these requirements will apply to all caravan manufacturers ... especially the smaller manufacturers who are highly disproportionately represented in the number of problems reported.

"We can only hope that the horrible coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns will not hamper the manufacturers' efforts to improve the quality of their 'vans while having to cope with critical production issues, such as severe shortages of necessary components and trained assembly personnel."

Mr Young said it seemed "incredible" that not all caravan manufacturers were required to abide by the same stringent obligations, as mandated for motor vehicle manufacturers.

He hoped that government business auditors and vehicle inspectors would quickly concentrate on the problem and ensure that reasons for defects would be acted upon.

He believed that production inspection checklists should be double-checked to ensure that issues had been resolved.

Mr Young provided the following list of continuing annoying and often serious defects which are causing problems for caravanners, roughly in the order of their seriousness and frequency:

1: Ratings & Masses: Biggest caravan problem by far.

Stated tare mass being:

* Significantly lower than the actual tare mass
* A meaningless "generic", "typical" or "base-model" caravan figure
* The mass of the empty caravan when it leaves the manufacturer and not when it leaves the supplier and not fitted with all items that were listed on the sales contract.

2: Ball-Loading:

Dangerously too low, too high or too variable (due to the two adverse combinations of contents ‒ empty or full of water tanks.

3: Empty ball-loading:

Ludicrous "calculation" of " empty ball-loading equals ATM rating minus GTM rating" … or vice-versa.
How can a measured actual mass (at the empty condition) possibly relate to two fixed allocated ratings (applicable only to the fully-loaded condition)?

4: Trailer Plate:

Incorrect information.
Incorrect masses… tare mass & empty ball-loading appreciably understated
Incomplete information
Information illegible. Information should be professionally etched or stamped.

5: Electrical system & gas system installations:

Questionable compliance with Australian Standards [AS/NZ 3000 & AS/NZ 3001 & AS 5601:2]
Poor workmanship … untidy wiring, hose and tubing layout and connections
Inadequate protection and securing … especially on "off-road" caravans.

6: Tyre selection & pressures:

Poor selection of tyre size, occasionally (dangerously) under-engineered, but all too often grossly over-engineered with load rtings (capacities) far too high for the actual loadings on the tyres
Recommended inflation pressures completely unsuitable for the tyre loadings
Often the "recommended inflation pressure" is simply the "maximum permitted pressure" that is embossed on the tyre sidewall (in relation to the load rating)
Grossly-unsuitable pressures cause the 'van to significantly sway and wallow or skip and bounce leading to dangerous handling and stability problems on the road … and possible uncontrollable jackknifing and overturning

7: Tyre placard:

Incomplete information … especially wheel & tyre specifications, where the complete size description is not provided
Wheel specification must include: diameter, width and profile
Tyre specification must include: width; section percentage, diameter, type, legible information ... iIt should be professionally etched or stamped

8: Lamps not wired correctly:

Worst situation … left and right turn-signal lamps reversed
Poor connections and exposed wires

9: Non-load-sharing suspensions (tandem-axle caravans):

Apparent non-compliance of the mandatory "120 percent safety factor" … based on the ratio between the stated axle-group rating and the stated GTM rating

10: Poor workmanship:

Uneven gaps around panels and appliances

Fasteners too long, not properly tightened and not neatly aligned

Latches and hinges not accurately positioned

Squeaks and noticeable floor flexing when walking inside the 'van

Water leaks from hose fittings

Defects that become apparent only after the 'van has had a number of trips on different roads, and during different climatic (wet and dusty) conditions:

11: Water leaks:

Severe water leaks that cause structural damage, from roof and wall joints or around roof-mounted equipment where the sealant has not been properly applied, or where continual vibrations have caused the sealing to fail

12: Dust leaks:

Ineffective seals around doors and windows that permit dust to enter the 'van

13: Wheels & tyres:

Excessive and uneven tyre wear
Often caused by improper (if any) wheel alignment
Often caused by wheels/tyres not being balanced


 No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without
the prior written permission of Dennis Amor.

Copyright 2005 Dennis Amor
All Rights Reserved

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