Exploding Brake Pipes, Cracked Windscreens, And Lots More Motorhome Problems!

When I bought the motorhome I asked the previous owner to give it a full service and an MOT, which he did. That was back in October. Because it’s a UK registered vehicle, the MOT always has to be done in the UK and so I would have had to drive back to England in October to renew the MOT.

That timing did not work for me so I decided to get a new one done so that I could have a full year out of the country before having to drive it back. I was doing the MOT just for that reason, and not because I thought there was anything wrong with it, but it’s just as well I did, as there turned out to be a whole bunch of problems!

I took it to Les Bateman Motors who are the garage that repaired the roof vent after my trip to Calais in February. They specialise in motorhomes.

Intermittent Ignition Problem

8am on the morning of the MOT I tried to start the van and it turned over but would not fire. I suspected the battery was low as when I had my solar panels fitted they had managed to flatten the battery during the work, and it had not had a good drive since.

I tried a few times to start it over a 15 minute period and then it just cut out completely. I turned the key and … nothing. Just a click. In my ignorance of car stuff I just assumed I’d tried to start it too many times and killed the battery.

I dragged my brother out of bed to come and help me and with the help of his heavy duty battery charger we got it going again but he suspected there was a problem with the ignition. His battery charger reading said that the battery itself was okay.

Once charged, I dropped the motorhome off at the garage and went to a nearby cafe to grab some breakfast. Half way through eating they phoned me to say that they’d had to abandon the test because the engine had completely cut out and it would not start! Ignition problem!!

So, seeing as they are a motorhome repair centre I asked if I could just leave it there for them to carry out the repairs, which of course they agreed to.

As annoying as it was, I was thankful that it had happened there and not on my way to the Eurotunnel or in the middle of rural France!

Exploding Brake Pipes

Later that day I had another call telling me both good news and bad news. The good news was that they’d found and fixed the fault with the ignition and it now started very well. The bad news was that they’d had to abandon a second MOT test and the van had several more problems!

After fixing the ignition problem they’d started running the MOT again and when they came to testing the brakes, as soon as they were put under pressure one of the brake pipes just burst! If that had happened while I had been driving that could have been fatal!

Upon further inspection they found lots more problems with the brakes and a lot of rust and corrosion on the underside of the vehicle.


Before buying the motorhome I had the AA come and do a thorough vehicle check. They pointed out a corrosion problem and in particular, one very bad hole which I asked the previous owner to have fixed.

It was actually this ‘fix’ which caused the ignition problem. The person who had done the welding had not done a good job and had welded some of the wiring which was causing the starting problems. So they had to strip back all of that wiring and re-do it.

But looking underneath they found that it was just very rusty and corroded in general. They suggested undersealing it properly.

In the end we had a rather long conversation about the ignition, the brakes, the corrosion and I said to the guy “you know I’m going to be touring France for 8 months, I trust you, so just use your judgement to do whatever work you think is necessary to keep me safe on the road”.

So I gave them a license to do whatever work they wanted! But I do trust them as I’ve spoken at length to both the owner and several of the guys that work there and I’ve seen them inside of other people’s motorhomes working on both the mechanics and the habitation area. These people know motorhomes.

The Windscreen

Oh let’s not forget about the cracked windscreen! This happened around a week before. I think a stone chip got stuck underneath the passenger side windscreen wiper and where I was driving in the rain it was gradually making a scratch in the glass that eventually caused it to crack.

I’d had the repair booked in for the previous week but it had to be cancelled due to the rain and it had been rescheduled for the afternoon of the day the MOT was being done!

So with the vehicle now in the garage it was not going to be at the home address in time so I phoned Autoglass and asked them if they could carry out the replacement at a different venue – at the garage.

They checked with the engineer to see if the change in location would disrupt his route that day but it was fine. They turned up at the garage while I was still there and started working on it right in their workshop so at least that was done!

Luckily I was able to get the windscreen replaced on my insurance and only had to pay a small excess fee and it did not affect my no claims bonus.

All done now 🙂

As much as it pained me to fork out so much money for these repairs, I’m glad I’ve had the work done. It’s peace of mind. I really dread to think what would have happened if any of these issues had presented themselves whilst I was driving in France!

So now with all the repairs completed and a brand new MOT I am ready to book my crossing to France at last 🙂

2 thoughts on “Exploding Brake Pipes, Cracked Windscreens, And Lots More Motorhome Problems!

  1. Amanda

    Found your blog via youtube. I’m thinking of doing something similar myself so I can’t get enough of these #vanlife videos and blogs!

    One question. You talked about living full time in your MH, and in your post “What Happens When I ‘Come Back’?” you said you were never coming back unless you get bored. But today you said you told the garage you would be touring France for eight months. Have your plans changed?

    1. CarolineM Post author

      Hi Amanda, nice to have a new visitor 🙂 No my plans haven’t changed but I am taking a 3 month break to do something else. In January I went Snowboarding after a 5 year break following an injury and I loved it (I blogged about that daily on here.) So now I have decided I really want to get better at snowboarding so I am going to spend the entire winter season in Alpe d’Huez. However the motorhome isn’t really cut out for the winter (and I really like a bath after a day on the slopes!) so for this adventure I’ll bring it back, put it in storage and rent an apartment. Then the following Spring, out comes the motorhome again to start touring Spain 🙂

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