A significant number of our guests to Horton Common now have motor movers fitted to their caravans. Typically when guests arrive they pull up on the road in front of their pitch, unhook the caravan from their car and then use their motor mover to reverse the caravan into position. Generally, this how our guests set up their caravan without a hitch, no pun intended. However, now and again when I arrive on site some guests do experience problems with their caravan motor mover. Therefore, with this post, I thought I would discuss what some of the motor mover problems are that I’ve come across, and how to avoid and fix them.
Now, there is a huge range of caravan motor movers, and I’ve written a long post linked above on the different makes and models available. This post will discuss some general problems that motor mover owners may experience which are applicable to pretty much all makes and models. However, I will also reference some example problems with Powrtouch motor movers. This is a common motor mover I see fitted to our guest’s caravans so it serves as a good example. While the exact method and means to address some of the problems vary slightly depending on the make and model of motor mover you own, much of the information on how to address the problems remain the same. I hope you have the time to read this whole post. If not please feel free to use the Table of Contents below to skips to particular motor mover problems, issues, repairs and solutions.
Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or Caravan Guard are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase, with no additional cost to you.
Introduction to Caravan Motor Mover Problems
I want to structure this post to address the most likely/common problems you may be having with your motor mover first and then move on to less frequently/specific issues. Hence, first I’ll discuss the condition of the leisure battery and caravan tyres.
Simply a Flat Leisure Battery
The most likely issue or the first potential problem to cross off the list is the leisure battery. From personal experience with my fathers motor mover on his caravan, if your leisure battery is close to just 12V your motor movers are likely to struggle or stop. With the Powrtouch classics fitted to our caravan if the leisure battery is close to reading just 12V you hear the motor movers just beep. One of our guests recently had a similar issue with their automatic engagement Powrtouch Evolution motor movers. Their leisure battery had just enough power the engage the rollers against the wheels but not enough power to move the caravan. This did create a second problem as there was no longer sufficient power in the leisure battery to retract the motor movers, more on that issue later in the post. Its also worth noting that in most cases you’re going to want to have a leisure battery at around 100ah or more. That gives you a bit of an extra buffy to play with in terms of motor mover running time.
For even the lowest powered caravan motor movers, you want a leisure battery over 100Ah to give you ample motor mover run time: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Now, in most cases, once your caravan has been connected to a pitch hook up, mains hook up at home or you used a leisure battery charger your motor mover will be operational again. However, there are some scenarios where there may be more issues going on with charging your leisure battery than you may expect.
Tow Cars with Euro 6 Engines and Issues Charging the Leisure Battery
For me to describe this issue lets consider a scenario. Before you set off on your trip you know that your leisure battery is not fully charged, hence its going to struggle to power your motor movers. However, you know you have a long trip ahead of you and you’re pretty confident while towing your car will trickle charge your leisure battery. Therefore by the time you reach your site, you’ll have enough power in the leisure battery to use your motor mover. This will usually be the case, however, with some modern tow cars with Euro 6 engines your leisure battery may not get the charge you were expecting. I’ve previously written a post on this in the past related to fridge problems while towing. Some Euro 6 engines rely on regenerative braking to put power back into the battery. Hence, your caravan is not always getting a constant supply of power. So you could turn up to the site and the leisure battery has not been recharged at all. Hence your motor mover won’t operate.
Damaged/Depleted Capacity Leisure Battery
Many leisure batteries can be damaged, potentially permanently if left in a low state of charge (below 50%). After factor that can damage a leisure battery is being exposed to freezing conditions as discussed in my post on caravan winter storage. Therefore, if your leisure battery has not been maintained over winter when springtime roles around you may experience problems with your leisure battery. Now, potentially after a good charge, that problem may go away.
However, in some cases leaving the leisure battery in a low state of charge/freezing conditions may have depleted the maxium state of charge. In other words, you no longer have 100% capacity of the battery. Depending on the original capacity of your leisure battery this could be a significant issue. Say you only started off with an 85ah battery. Well, loosing pretty much any percentage of that capacity is going to cause problems with a lot of motor movers. Some good quality leisure battery chargers such a the CTEK MXS may be able to recover close to the full capacity of the battery. However, its not guaranteed to do so, therefore you may need a new leisure battery to resolve your motor mover problem.
Slipping Rollers? – Check Your Caravan Tyre Pressures
Now, this particular problem with motor movers mainly impacts manual engagement motor movers with the spring-loaded system, such as the Powrtouch Classic. If there is not sufficient pressure in the tyre the drive roller on the motor mover may slip. Therefore, you want to have a suitable tyre pressure gauge to check you have sufficient air in your caravan tyres. Motor movers with manual engagement which use the winding mechanism even if the tyres were under pressure should be able to still get good contact with the tyre surface. Likewise with automatic engagement motor movers such as the Powrtouch Evolution. However, you should always have your caravan tyres inflated to the correct pressure for safe towing.
With correct caravan tyre pressures generally in the 50-60 PSI range, you really need a pressure gauge with a reading up to 100 PSI: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Poor Connections on the Motor Mover Terminals
A more specific potential problem that has started to be apparent on motor movers which have been fitted to caravans for several years is poor electrical connections. Specifically on the spade connection terminals on the motors themselves. After several years moisture/dirt thrown up by the caravan tyres can cause poor electrical connections on the terminals due to corrosion etc. It is worth noting, this issue appears to be more apparent when motor movers are mounted behind the caravan wheels, which makes sense. Motor mover manufacturers often recommend that the motor mover is fitted in front of the caravan axle to stop road debris from the tyres been thrown at the motor movers. However, sometimes placing the motor movers in front of the axle creates issues with excessive caravan noseweights.
Dan from Meet the Trudgians created a good video several years back on this particular issue and how to clean up the spade terminals. A poor connection on the terminals can create the problem of inconsistent operation. Or, the motor mover may fail to operate at all. This issue usually occurs when the rubber boot which protects the motor terminals degrades and brakes apart. Which often means you need to purchase a new rubber boot to stop this issue recurring.
Replacing Motor Mover Brushes
So if you have tried the above fix of cleaning up the terminals and you motor mover still doesn’t work, you may need to replace the motor brushes. Pretty much all motor movers on the market today use brushed motors. This is where a small carbon/graphite block/brush carries the electrical connection to the rotating section of the motor. It is in physical contact with rotating copper pads on the motor, hence this brush does eventually wear away. As it wears a spring pushes it against the copper pads. However, sooner or later there won’t be enough of the brush left to keep a good contact against the copper pads. You will usually notice this through inconsistent motion, frequent stop/start maybe even sparks. I have some good quality power tools which I’ve had to replace the motor brushes in the past for these same reasons.
Again, Dan from Meet the Trudgians has done a video replacing the brushes on his motor mover. So if you are still experiencing problems with your motor mover, this might also be worth a watch.
Problems with Automatic Engagement Motor Movers
Automatic engagement motor movers are the posher cousin to manual engagement movers. Not having to get down on your hands and knees to use a spring lever or winder to move the motors against the tyres is obviously a great feature to have. However, from time to time they do have some of their own specific problems. The final video from Dan that I’m going to reference in this post is the issue of the automatic engagement motors becoming out of sync. In other words, you press the engagement button on the remote and only one side moves towards the caravan tyre. Dan shows how using the manual rewind tool you can reset the two movers to get them to sync up again.
So as you can see in the video above Dan uses the spanner tool to manually retract the motor mover. This should be included with your kit, if you don’t have one, order one from your motor mover manufacturer. Earlier in the post, you may remember I referenced one of our guests who has the automatic engagement Powrtouch Evolution. The leisure battery failed with the motor movers in contact with the tyres. However, they didn’t have this spanner with them to manually retract the motor mover. Hence, until the leisure battery had some charge again, they were unable to retract the motor movers. Hence, they couldn’t actually tow their caravan. Therefore, make sure you have this spanner in the caravan at all times.
Conclusions on Caravan Motor Mover Problems
Obviously, the above solutions will vary slightly with the different makes and models of motor mover fitted to your caravan. However, much of the general solutions to these problems remain the same. First, always check the most obvious problems, such as the leisure battery voltage and the caravan tyre pressures. Then if you’re sure that’s not the issue, start to investigate the condition of the motor terminals etc. However, if your motor mover is still under warranty don’t start taking it apart. Check with the motor mover manufacturer on how to get the problem resolved. You may also want to check out my post on DIY motor mover installations.
I hope you found this post useful so you can progress with trying to resolve your motor mover problems. I also hope at some point in the near future you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common. 🙂