Campervan Maintenance for Backpackers

campervan maintenance

(Everything You Need to Know)

Owning a campervan brings you a whole new level of freedom and excitement in New Zealand, but there are a few basics that every campervan owner needs to know.

New Zealand’s Road Laws state that every vehicle needs to be registered with the NZTA and must be fit for use and certified with a Warrant of Fitness – WOF.

  • WOF / Warrant of Fitness – A WOF is a warrant that proves that the vehicle is roadworthy and has been checked by a certified mechanic. A WOF usually costs between NZD$25 and NZD$50, but would be dependent on all repairs being made before acquiring a WOF certificate.
  • Registration – The vehicle registration or REGO is a tax paid to the NZTA and would depend on the age, make, mileage, and CC of the vehicle. REGO costs typically range from NZD$9 to NZD$18 per month. Diesel cars tend to cost around 35% to 50% more to register.
  • Road User Charges – Road user charges are only applicable for Diesel vehicles and amount to an average cost of NZD$60 per 1000kms travelled.

6 Tips to Correctly Maintain Your Vehicle

1. Have the Vehicle Inspected Independently

Inspect the vehicle yourself if you have a general knowledge of vehicle maintenance, or book the vehicle in for a thorough check with a certified mechanic.

When taking the vehicle for a test drive or an inspection makes sure you pay attention to any noises, warning lights, tire quality, brakes, lights, and the suspension of the vehicle.

Avoid buying a vehicle with electrical problems or warning lights, these may cost you greatly in the near future.

Make sure you find out about the service history of the vehicle and if it has ever been involved in any serious accidents, as these may have a residual impact on the vehicle. Ask for proof of when last the cambelt or timing belt was last replaced.

2. Check Tyre Pressure and Fluids

Make sure you know how to check the fluid levels of your new vehicle and ensure that the tires are maintained at the correct tire pressure. It is essential that the brake fluid, engine oil, water level, and tire pressure are maintained at all times and should be checked regularly.

3. Ensure Cambelts and/or Timing Belts are Maintained and Inspected Thoroughly

A vehicle with a cambelt needs to have the cambelt replaced every 100 000kms or every 5 years when buying a pre-owned vehicle; it is imperative that you find out when the cambelt was last replaced and when the next replacement is due. The approximate cost of a cambelt replacement ranges from NZ$300 – NZ$1000.
Don’t get confused by terminology; a cambelt and a timing belt are essentially the same things. If you are unsure, be sure to ask a trusted mechanic.

4. Check the Tyre Tread and Alignment

The quality of your tire and the safety of your vehicle go hand in hand. In New Zealand, the legal minimum tire tread is 1.5 mm, but it is never advisable to buy a vehicle with a tire tread of less than 3 mm. New Zealand is renowned for its wet weather and that guarantees wet roads; so, it is imperative that tires be well-maintained and changed when necessary. If you need to replace a tire along your journey; then you can opt for 2nd hand tires, which can save you up to NZ$70 per tyre.

When it comes to buying your vehicle, safety should be paramount, so make sure the tires are in good shape and the vehicle has been aligned. If you are concerned about the vehicle veering to the left or right; then visit a mechanic ASAP and ask for the wheel alignment to be checked. Re-alignment costs about NZ$50 and takes about 30 minutes.

5. Make Sure You Have a Spare Tyre Kit and Other Necessities

Before purchasing the vehicle, make sure you check the spare tire and ensure the vehicle is equipped with a tire-changing kit. It is always advisable to have a First Aid Kit and a high visibility emergency jacket and hazard triangle.

We also recommend you keep the following emergency items stocked in the vehicle:

  • Jumper Cables
  • 10-20 L petrol tank
  •  Flashlight
  • Basic Tool Kit
  •  Fire Extinguisher

6. Find Out Who to Consult for an Automotive Emergency

If you are buying your vehicle from a registered dealership; ask the dealer’s advice on who to contact for mechanical advice. Alternatively, contact AA, VTNZ, or Pit Stop and only visit MTA Licensed mechanics.

What to Do in Case of an Emergency?

No matter how prepared you are, accidents or emergencies can take place, here are a few tips to help you manage those unforeseen situations in New Zealand.

What to do if your vehicle has broken down on the motorway?

  • Pullover, activate all hazard lights, and move as far out of the way of traffic as possible. Try to avoid the possibility of a collision and move away from the vehicle to avoid further injury. Only exit the vehicle when it is safe to do so.
  • Call for help. Do not attempt to repair the vehicle yourself, wait for help. Raise the vehicle hood to alert passing authorities that help is needed.
  • Be patient. Help will arrive as soon as possible, so remain calm and patient. Do not panic.
  • Keep a record of the assistance report and/or accident report, if applicable.

We hope these tips and hints were helpful 🌟, and we wish you many safe and enjoyable travels in New Zealand 🌏.

If you have any questions, leave us a comment below! 💬


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