Nick News, Spotlight

Nick’s News – Punctures, insurance and the Auto-Sleeper Burford

Exterior of the Auto-Sleeper Burford

Nick HardingNick’s News – Nick Harding is an expert in all things motorhomes, caravans and camping. Each week, Nick explores products, locations, holiday ideas and essential community information on our behalf – It’s a Hard-ing Life for Nick, but here is what he found this week.

My week

When is a puncture not a puncture? Prolonged stays on the drive at home during the festive period for my campervan only revealed one thing – the slowest of slow punctures. It’s the front nearside and you might remember the front offside had something similar, which was successfully fixed, but now it’s happening on the other side.

Despite checking into my local tyre centre, which took the tyre off and gave it a full check for no charge, officially there’s no sign of a puncture. I guess I’ll just need to keep checking it… or get out more, as it doesn’t seem to go down if there’s regular use. Unless anyone out there has any other advice?

In the news

Insurance – where loyalty means FCA

A little-spotted piece of news slipped by us all at the start of this month. Loyalty penalties in the world of automotive insurance are no longer permissible. It marks the end of that horrible process whereby those of us who stuck with the same insurer each year were often penalised, as new customers snapped up introductory deals which didn’t apply to us.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to which anyone who sells or arranges insurance must belong, has closed this particular loophole, meaning that any private motor insurance premium cannot be higher than the price offered to new customers for the same product.

It’s all good news. If nothing else, it will save you hours checking around reading the small print as you look for a better value premium.

Driving? Don’t drink

I know we get the usual warnings about not combining alcoholic drinks with driving in the festive season, but this common-sense approach applies throughout the year.

Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart says the majority of motorists are still unaware of when they might be over the limit for drinking with alcohol in their blood system. One particular area of worry has long been driving the morning after drinking. The simple way to complete peace of mind is to take your own breath test, of course.

You can pick up a single-use breathalyser for as little as a fiver. Or you can go all the way up to something like the multi-use, pocket-sized, battery-operated Alcosense Pro Breathalyser at around £150. As ever, the best advice is: none for the road.

Motorhome for me?Interior of the Auto-Sleeper Burford

Auto-Sleeper Burford – a bit of badge engineering

You’ve every right to expect something pretty special for your near £90,000 spend on a new motorhome, but maybe this could entice? All credit to Auto-Sleeper as the only mainstream UK motorhome manufacturer to work with Mercedes.

And arguably it is all about the badge here, or badges, as that combination of Mercedes and Auto-Sleeper is a potent force. For some, only the best will do and that means that distinctive three-pointed star on the bonnet.

A total body length of 26ft (7.20m, if you prefer) and 2.35m width makes this a pretty meaty motorhome. That’s something that’s reflected in the particularly roomy, twin settees and front lounge area, as well as the full-width end washroom.

Needless to add, the overall specification – for the base vehicle as well as the conversion – doesn’t hold back. True, the French double isn’t always the most popular fixed bed offering and you’ll struggle to find other manufacturers listing such a floorplan. Ideally, the taller person sleeps against the wall and visits the loo less in the night. But, if that works for you, check out this range-topping Auto-Sleeper in all its glory.

Three good: Roomy living quarters, extensively equipped (with Premium Pack option) and Mercedes/Auto-Sleeper badge blend
Two bad: It’s heavy and French beds divide opinion
Perfect for… Three-pointed star-gazing
Also consider: Hymer B-Class Modern Comfort T600, which has twin single beds

Gadget envy

Beefing up your vehicle security

Stronghold ApexWhether you own a caravan or a motorhome, you have what for some is a highly describable piece of kit. And that’s why you need to think about vehicle security. There’s no harm in adding to what you’ve already got, especially if it brings you greater peace of mind. And sometimes it can even lower insurance premiums.

If you keep your vehicle in the same place most of the time – at home or on the drive for example – a security post is a great, visual deterrent which you can lock your vehicle to if it has a towbar or simply park up against.

Bulldog’s SA7L Removable Hitch Post, typically priced at around £190, is meatier than most. It includes the company’s own Super lock bolt, ground socket and cover plate.

A wheel clamp is another deterrent where the sheer visual aspect may be enough to convince a thief to look for easier pickings. The Stronghold Apex (around £160 for the most popular 15in-18in version) comes with a Sold Secure Gold rating and fits motorhomes and caravans with wheel sizes 15in-18in, although versions are also available for smaller wheels. It’s a recognised triangular design that covers the wheel nuts and comes with a unique locking plate and a pick-free lock with three keys.

All caravans have them, quite a few coachbuilt motorhomes too, although sometimes they can even be retrofitted. I’m talking corner steadies. A locking mechanism for these will keep them in the down position, making it that bit harder for a thief to tow away your vehicle.

SAS sells its Corner Steady Leg Locks in singles (from around £30), twos and fours, each coming with a hex key that has to be inserted whenever you operate the steadies.