Can I go off road in my caravan?
Crusader caravans are strong and tough and are designed for Australia’s varied road conditions however ‘off road’ can often mean different things to different people. Crusader caravans will take on paved roads and reasonably smooth dirt roads and we consider them to be multi-terrain. Severe off road use along unmaintained dirt tracks, over boulders and potholes, through flowing and dried riverbeds where hard landings and body jarring may occur is not what our caravans were designed for and such use may void warranty conditions.
How do the new caravans get to the dealership?
Each dealership organises the transport of their caravans from the factory. A majority of new caravans are transported by specialist caravan transporters and are detailed by the dealer for the customer.
When does my warranty commence?
It is irrelevant how much time your caravan may be at the dealership, as your factory warranty commences on the day you first pick up your new Crusader caravan from your dealer. Ensure you sign and date the Customer Delivery Advice acknowledging that the dealer has adequately shown you the operations of your caravan.
Do I have to have warranty repairs done by my selling dealer?
No. Any of our nation-wide authorised Crusader dealers can assist you as can one of our accredited repair centres. If you need a repair done don’t hesitate to call your selling dealer, the closest Crusader dealer or feel free to contact our Customer Relations team at the factory during business hours and they can assist you.
What will warranty repairs cost me?
Authorised repairs are at no cost to you, however you must go through the authorisation process first, completing a Warranty Claim Form and providing photographs of the issue. Under no circumstances should you proceed to repair the caravan, expecting reimbursement before advising Crusader as this may lead to your claim being declined. The Crusader Customer Relations Team is best placed to assess the issue and engage appropriately skilled people.
Of course, if you require extra work outside of the warranty conditions such as the fitment of extra equipment then the dealer will charge you an agreed price prior to commencement of the work.
What are the responsibilities of your dealers?
Only experienced dealers are engaged by Crusader and are expected to act in a professional manner in their day-to-day dealings with customers. By entering into a sales contract with the dealer the dealer is expected to honour that contract. In turn, Crusader manufacturers the caravan from information supplied by the dealer and the dealer must check over every caravan and ensure that everything is as expected and in working order. The Dealer must explain the operations of the caravan to yourself and have a duty of care to ensure that the caravan is roadworthy, legally registered and that your nominated tow vehicle can legally tow the caravan. They must also assist customers after the sale in respect to warranty.
Does crusader stay in touch with customers?
We love to stay in touch with you and hear all about your adventures. We will contact you on occasions to conduct brief surveys on your caravan experience and the caravan lifestyle. We will also send you reminders regarding warranty and servicing. You can also stay in touch through our Facebook page.
Is it important to service my caravan?
Your caravan undergoes a tremendous amount of pressure as you travel. Like your car, your caravan chassis bounces over bumps, experience potholes, uneven surfaces and road debris, while climatic conditions from the sun, rain, wind and sea salt can affect your caravan.
Crusader build strong caravans and we build them with all this in mind – however deterioration can occur and maintenance is always required if only to examine the roof seals where the hatches sit or to ensure the wheel nuts remain tight.
Your dealer is a professional and is best placed to assist you in this area and indeed it is a condition of our Warranty that you undertake regular services as per the service handbook. A caravan is a valuable asset and for your safety and enjoyment it should be looked after.
HOW MUCH CAN I CARRY IN MY CARAVAN?
The difference between the Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) and the TARE weight of your caravan is the payload available to you. Crusader weighs each caravan as it comes off the production line and enters that weight on the compliance plate found on your caravan. This is the empty weight of the caravan but including all standard items such as the jack but no water or gas. The ATM is the maximum load that the caravan can take on the axles and the hitch. At no time should you exceed the payload else the van may become unstable and as it is now illegal, your insurance company may deny any claim for accidental damage. Don’t forget that if you add permanent aftermarket equipment to your caravan, this will increase the TARE and reduce your payload.
UNDERSTANDING CARAVAN WEIGHTS
Crusader Caravans adheres to Vehicle Standards Bulletin VSB 1, which is a National standard, accepted in every state or territory in Australia. For the safety and security of our customers, all weights will be stamped as required on a Vehicle Identification Plate (VIN) as calculated below.
The actual unladen weight of a complete uncoupled caravan including standard equipment and factory fitted options and with empty water tanks, empty grey water tanks and empty gas cylinders.
GTM (GROSS TRAILER MASS)
This is the critical weight examined by law enforcement.
This is the maximum load allowable on the caravan chassis, suspension, axles, wheels and tyres when coupled to a tow vehicle so the tow vehicle is bearing some of the weight. The GTM is established by the chassis manufacturer and is subject to a combination of chassis strength, suspension rating, axle rating, brake size and wheel and tyre sizes.
The GTM can be adjusted downward but cannot go up over the specified GTM for the chassis unless suitable modifications are made to the chassis load rating to legally increase the GTM.
This is the actual downward pressure on the ball on the tow vehicle. The downward pressure on the ball must be within the tow vehicles own tow ball rating.
The caravan industry rule of thumb for the ball weight is between 8% and 15% of the tare weight else the caravan may be subject to unstable towing.
ATM (AGGREGATE TRAILER MASS)
This is the total mass (weight) of the caravan weighed when uncoupled from a tow vehicle and is the sum of the GTM + Ball.
The higher ATM than GTM doesn’t mean that the caravan is heavier, it is still the same towable weight on the axles, the ATM just records the maximum downward weight on the tow vehicle which is then added to the maximum towable weight. This means that the ATM can exceed the axle load rating provided the items carried in the caravan are distributed between the ball weight and the axles.
The ATM is generally greater than the GTM however, in some instances, where the weight is limited by another factor such as the coupling, the ATM and GTM can be stamped as the same weight, for example an Crusader Excalibur Prince axle load is 2 x 2000kg=4000kg however the standard coupling is rated at 3500kg therefore the rated GTM cannot be more than 3500kg. As the ATM in this example will exceed the coupling rating Crusader will record the GTM and ATM both at 3500kg to avoid confusion.
The caravan in this example can be upgraded to a GTM of 4000kg by changing the coupling to a minimum 4000kg rated coupling but the buyer must be aware that their tow vehicle must have sufficient capacity to tow that weight.
GVM (GROSS VEHICLE MASS)
The GVM is the maximum weight that the tow vehicle can weigh fully laden, a similar weight calculation as the GTM.
GCM (GROSS COMBINED MASS)
The GCM is the combination of the caravan GTM and the tow vehicles own GVM. The combined loaded weights of the caravan and the tow vehicle cannot exceed the GCM.
AXLE GROUP LOADING
The axles are rated to varying strengths and the chassis is manufactured with sufficiently strong axles to achieve the rated GTM.
LOAD CARRYING CAPACITY (PAYLOAD)
The Payload is the difference between the ATM and the TARE and nominates the amount of weight can be carried in the empty caravan.
Each coupling has a tow capacity rating as to the amount of weight it can pull and irrespective of any other weights. Nothing must exceed the tow coupling rating unless the coupling is upgraded to a higher rating.
Customers should be instructed on how to load their caravan, to evenly distribute the load throughout the caravan. Incorrect loading can lead to caravan instability whilst towing and can be a safety hazard.
CAN LOAD DISTRIBUTION CAUSE A CARAVAN TO SWAY?
Most certainly. Unless a load is distributed evenly within a caravan this can cause a whiplash effect leading to an uncontrollable sway. The best place to load a caravan is midway, over the axles, but obviously not everything can go there. Use common sense in spreading the load around. Sway bars can assist in preventing sway and technical resolutions such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) can help but generally these electronic devices only cut in where sway is severe and out of control.
WHAT IS AN ACCEPTABLE BALL WEIGHT?
There is no hard and fast rule as it often comes down to caravan design but the caravan industry regards that between 8% and 15% of unloaded TARE weight is generally the acceptable range. If the caravan has a lot of storage areas at the front of the caravan then the factory may deliberately lighten the ball weight in anticipation of a heavy load up front and likewise for rear storage areas where the ball weight may be designed to be heavier in the ball when the caravan is empty.
HOW DO I ASCERTAIN THE CORRECT LOAD DISTRIBUTION FOR MY CARAVAN?
A lot of it is common sense. Everyone takes different things along and if you proceed with the intent of spreading your personal items throughout the caravan then a well-balanced caravan should behave perfectly. It is strongly recommended that you trial different load patterns in your local area, using the car you intend to tow the caravan with and shift loads until you are happy with the ride.
WHY DO YOU USE A COMPOSITE FLOOR AND ROOF?
Composite materials are layers of different material laminated together. They are generally stronger yet lighter than traditional materials such as plywood and provide the opportunity to create one-piece structures without joins that prevents water entry. By using the floor and roof material that we do we can offer a strong, hail and dent resistant structure that is fully insulated for your comfort whilst reducing the overall weight of your caravan. A lower caravan weight increases your payload and can also help in overall fuel efficiency.
WHAT IS THE INSULATION RATING OF THE ROOF?
The roof panel insulation is 26mm XPS extruded polystyrene manufactured in Germany and equates to around 45mm of household wool batt insulation. Our standard white roof reflects heat whilst darker colours like silver/grey will attract heat that will make a slight temperature difference inside the caravan.
In heat tests we heated one side of a roof panel in an enclosed space to 107 degrees and measured the temperature of the other side at 33 degrees. Again at 87 degrees and the underside recorded 26 degrees and lastly at a realistic 55 degrees and the underside was the same as the surrounding air temperature, a pleasant 24 degrees. No warping or distortion was detected throughout the testing. These heat tests can be seen on YouTube.
DOES CRUSADER MANUFACTURE ITS CARAVANS SOLELY IN AUSTRALIA?
Yes. Crusader operates out of its factory in Epping, Victoria on the outskirts of Melbourne. We have two caravan assembly lines as well as areas for the manufacture of necessary components such as furniture partitions, walls and cabinetry.
WHY ARE YOUR WALLS STILL MADE OF MERANTI TIMBER?
Meranti timber is a tried and true method of building caravans offering a secure and solid wall frame. To increase strength and durability we provide oversized 2×1 wall studs every 10” and at each door and window opening we fit corner blocks. The gaps in the frame are packed tightly with polystyrene insulation meaning that every wall – side, front and rear, the roof and the floor are all fully insulated.
WHAT QUALITY CONTROL SYSTEMS DOES CRUSADER HAVE?
We have checks and a master checklist at each stage of the process from ensuring that production plans are drawn accurately and include everything you have ordered, through to section checks as the caravan proceeds down the production line. We have a Quality Control Manager employed to monitor every phase of construction from chassis receipt to water test bay to the final QA after which an independent inspector performs a ‘white glove’ inspection. Only then is the caravan authorised to leave the factory.
ARE YOU LICENSED FOR PLUMBING, GAS AND ELECTRICAL FIT OUT?
The authorities are very strict on this and Crusader complies with all Federal and state regulations. Plumbing, gas and electrical fit out and inspection is only performed by appropriately licensed technicians. We are regularly audited by RVMAP, the industry watchdog, and achieve full compliance.
TIPS AND TRICKS
TOWING ON DIRT ROADS
The first thing to realise is that gravel roads provide very little traction compared to sealed roads. This means that braking distances will be greatly increased and sudden steering wheel movements can easily provoke understeer or oversteer which could lead to a slide or spin.
Secondly, while the road may appear very smooth and level, its surface condition could change at any time with potholes, ruts, rocks, corrugations and wash-aways seemingly coming from nowhere.
To counter this, reduce tyre pressures, slow down and do everything more gradually. Avoid sudden acceleration, braking and steering changes and always slow down on corners or crests so that you can safely stop within your limit of view.
Reducing tyre pressures has the effect of increasing the size of the tyres’ contact patch with the ground. This increases the available traction, softens the ride and also reduces the likelihood of getting a puncture. Don’t forget to lower the tyre pressures on the caravan tyres as well as the tow vehicle. The extra suppleness in the suspension that this affords helps reduce vibration inside the caravan, which in turns reduces the chances of damaging the frame and any goods within. Remember also that travel speed must also be reduced as tyre pressure is reduced.
If you encounter large wash-aways or potholes that can’t be avoided, brake gently but firmly to reduce speed to a safe level but make sure you release the brake before the front wheels go into the hole, otherwise the front wheels will lock (more so on non-ABS equipped vehicles) and greatly increase the shock load on the front suspension when the wheels contact the ground.
You will also need to equip your caravan with protection devices to stop the abrasion from the fine gravel particles and dust damaging its paint work, not to mention the damage that large rocks thrown up by the rear tyres can do.
Most people elect to use a stone guard to protect the front of the caravan, but aren’t aware that stones can be reflected back from this guard onto the rear of the tow vehicle, possibly damaging its paint or even breaking the rear windscreen. This is why you often see seasoned gravel road drivers employing some kind of rear windscreen protection, be it as simple as covering the glass area with cardboard held on by gaffer tape or with some commercial aftermarket protector.
FORMED EARTH ROADS
‘Formed earth’ roads, which are common in the outback, are graded dirt roads that have not been topped with gravel. These are often ‘dry-weather only’ roads, especially when in ‘black’ soil country, which turns to gooey thick mud in the wet. When wet, these roads are virtually impassable, and are usually closed by the land managers to protect them from damage and prevent unnecessary motoring accidents.
Topping these roads with gravel doesn’t improve things much because the gravel just disappears into the mud in wet weather. However, in the dry these roads can be quite firm and provide more traction than gravel roads.
That doesn’t mean that you can travel faster over ‘formed earth’ roads compared to gravel roads as ‘formed earth’ roads are often poorer roads in general, being narrower, rougher and prone to have more potholes, ruts and wash-aways.
Driving on these roads is similar to driving on gravel roads but speeds are generally slower because conditions often change very quickly. However, they can provide a wonderful touring experience, as you can take the time to experience the wonders of nature when travelling slower.