Damage to a caravan’s exterior or interior is a common but distressing occurrence. Depending on the nature and extent of the damage, if it is not tended to in time, it can cause even further damage.
In any instance, the priority is to have the issue resolved and get the caravan back on the road at the earliest. This article offers helpful insights into how and under what circumstances you can have a cracked caravan panel repaired.
What Can Cause A Crack In A Caravan Panel?
Caravans come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Similarly, a variety of materials is employed in manufacturing them. The exterior of a caravan is typically made from aluminium panels, fibreglass or GRP, or Acrylic ABS. The aluminium panels interlock with each other to create a strong structure. Even the joints used are enclosed in aluminium conduits.
The GRP sheet could be thin or moulded, which is thicker than the regular GRP. GRP and fibreglass are more or less the same material. They constitute a polyester resin-based product that offers structural reinforcement through a mat made of chopped or woven glass.
The materials used for making the outside of a caravan are used to keep it less rigid and lightweight. So, heavy chassis is not required to provide support to the caravan as the frame, and the exterior is quite robust. Similarly, a panel’s interior consists of various materials, primarily plastic.
However, even the strongest materials are prone to damage in the form of dents, cracks, or breakage due to an external force or some other reason. The interior part can get affected in a similar way.
Most of the time, caravans are damaged when they are being manoeuvred. Storage yards are notorious for tight spaces, and there is no room between the vehicles when parked. Since these RVs are usually massive in size, turns or reverse manoeuvring can also result in the caravan hitting something and getting a crack.
Similarly, damages to the front or the rear end can also occur due to accidents. In such an instance, you may have to work with the insurance company, where required, to ensure that all the repair work is done smoothly and inconvenience is curtailed to a minimum at both ends.
However, at the time of the accident, you need to take a few important measures. For instance, if you can carry on, then continue. However, you must register your claim with the insurance company at the earliest.
Take clear pictures of the damage so that the insurance company can see the extent of the damage and offer a quote and repair assessment.
Meanwhile, depending on the size of the crack in the panel, you may have to take steps to prevent further damage and stop water from getting in. If possible, use duct tape to keep the water out.
On the other hand, if the panel is plastic and you see a hairline crack, it could mean that undue force or stress was applied to the panel when the vehicle was assembled. If your vehicle is new, it might help to talk to the dealer to resolve the problem.
Can You Repair Caravan Panels?
If the crack is in a strategic place and significant in size, you must take it to a professional to have it assessed. Being in the industry and having years of experience, they can guide you about the next step.
While you can make a temporary fix with duct tape, it is vital to avert the risk of dampness and moisture getting inside the caravan and causing further damage. If your vehicle is still under warranty, take it back to the dealer from whom you purchased it. If not, it would be wise to search for repair services.
However, whether or not you can repair a caravan panel depends on the panel’s material and the crack’s nature and extent. Let’s look at a few examples.
Repair Aluminium Caravan Panels
If your caravan is aluminium clad, it can become prone to fatigue cracks over time which may lead to water leaks. The points around windows or doors are most vulnerable.
If you suspect such a situation, have a close look at your caravan’s cladding, particularly around the doors, vents, hatches, or windows, for signs of cracks.
Unfortunately, if you find fatigue cracks in the caravan, they cannot be effectively repaired. You will need to have the affected panel replaced before it becomes worse.
Repair GRP or Fibreglass Caravan Panels
If the panel is made of GRP, it can be repaired via conventional fillers for car bodywork. If the panel is made of a thicker GRP material, the crack may only have extended into the top layer of the resin (a gel coat that comes before the glass layer), and the body stays intact. The front panel, in most, instances us thick GRP moulding, which can be fixed with car bodywork polyester resin.
To repair a significant crack in the fibreglass, the panel will be pulled out for repair. The crack is filled, and the panel is repaired from behind and front to ensure it is smooth.
If you are planning a DIY for a minor crack, you can use a thixotropic adhesive designed to repair both external and internal panels. It will form a hard and resilient bond that is water resistant, heat, or solvents.
Repair Plastic and Acrylic Caravan Panels
If the damage is inflicted to Acrylic capped ABS and has a hairline crack, it indicates stress or undue force applied to that part at the time of the vehicle’s assembly or any other instance.
The material is similar to what is used in car bumpers and may be difficult to repair if the crack is big. However, epoxy resin can help resolve the issue if the crack is insignificant.
If you see a small crack, for instance, above the windows of the caravans, you may try to glue the panel, but it will reopen if not done properly.
If the crack is big, you may need to take it to the repair services to have the panel plastic welded and painted. The best solution would be to have it replaced, but if you do not have the budget for it, plastic welding will do.
Rest assured, if the damage to the panel is minor, the repair services will not replace the whole panel. They will only restore the areas of the caravan bodywork and offer a cost-effective solution for the cracked panel. You can discuss your repair budget with them to work out a solution.