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Unless your motorhome is safely garaged away for the winter then you need to take bad-weather precautions, warns the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). Even if you are only heading for a port and sailing for warmer climes, the British weather will make it a challenge just getting there. There are seven essential checks, according to the IAM, that everyone should carry out.

• Ensure your lights are fully working; if a bulb is not working you will need to replace it before starting your journey or go to a garage and get it fixed straight away. Keep a spare set handy in the car. If you are caught driving when your lights are not working you could face a fine of up to £1000.

• Check the washer bottle is filled with screen wash, rather than just water, to remove grime from the screen. Ensure windscreen wiper blades are working properly too, without leaving lines or smearing the screen.

• Check the brake fluid reservoir under the bonnet, and if it is lower than it should be get the motorhome seen by a mechanic urgently. Driving in this way is dangerous.

• Check tyre tread depth. The legal minimum on a motorhome is the same as a car at 1.6mm. Use a tread depth gauge to measure them and check the tread surface is not worn out. Driving with tyres below the legal minimum tread depth can result in a fine of £120.

• Anti-freeze should be topped up all year round, so don’t neglect this over the winter. Ensure it is filled at the correct mixture to stop the coolant in your ‘van from freezing. Check you have the concentration of the fluid right for the temperatures you expect.

• Make room to pack an emergency kit containing a blanket, torch, shovel, and a fully charged mobile phone so you can contact your breakdown service provider if required.

• Make sure you have last year’s ice scraper and de-icer at the ready and ensure they are still effective, or get new ones for this year. Frost can strike overnight; don’t wait till it’s too late.

Discover more advice from the IAM at http://iam.org.uk

Christopher Macgowan