I arrived at Chelstons service centre building in the morning ready for a day of servicing. Our Swift Loan review van was booked in for a Fiat Annual Service (Chelstons is a Fiat Professional) and a habitation service.
An intro discussion revealed what was to take place during the day and after the engineer had donned his blue protective gloves and carefully placed seat protector covers on the drivers seat he drove it up to the servicing bay.
The bay did not have the usual double ramp affair that we usually see in garage photos but instead had what at first glance appeared to be stubby diagonal arms. These extended out and were placed below jacking points on the van front and rear. The engineer then carefully engaged the hydraulics and 4,000Kg of van was gingerely lifted into the air.
The Fiat Annual Service procedure then took up the next 3 hours (Admittedly with me asking questions and interrupting the natural flow) More information on the Fiat Service will be in a later article.
On completion of the mechanical servicing the van was road tested and passed over to a habitation engineer for the habitation aspect of the day. The van was moved to a habitation servicing bay.
Chelstons have a split format servicing building with one side dedicated to mechanical type servicing and a middle parts section and the opposite side used for habitation servicing and bodywork repairs (with a dedicated smartbay spray container)
The Habitation service was surprising in its depth and duration. Each and every lock was inspected, tested and lubricated. Blinds were operated and lubricated if necessary. All windows / rooflights were opened and adjusted. Seals for doors were inspected. It is actually very useful to have a fresh set of eyes checking out each and every item as a couple of trivial issues were noted and rectified during the checks. A full habitation service checklist employed is shown below and a habitation damp report
The Gas system was pressure tested to ensure no gas leaks were present. Carbon monoxide levels were checked and a small adhesive carbon monoxide detector was installed for safe and quick ongoing checks.
The electrical sub system was checked including ensuring the charging system was actually charging to the correct degree. All the internal mains sockets were tested for safety and the RCD was tested.
Lighting was tested throughout the van
Finally the all important damp test was performed using a standard hand held tester, there are many types of damp testers but Chelstons engineer had one with an extension cable leading to prongs rather than the damp testers that have two prongs sticking out of the tester, the formers advantage being that it allows access to smaller / tighter spaces when testing for damp. The small prongs are inserted into non visible areas (if possible) as the prongs leave miniscule indentations. The areas tested are those that would initially indicate leaks such as around window frames, Hekis and similar and then other areas to ensure a thorough damp test throughout. Obviously the MHF Loan Kontiki is only just over a year old so all readings were down in normal ranges but the presence of a higher reading would indicate an issue and further investigation would be required.
Summary of Habitation Servicing
A proper thorough Habitation Service should take a few hours and requires some specialist equipment to test gas pressure steadfastness, damp and electrical charging. Taking into account the equipment required, time taken and skills of the engineer involved I have a better appreciation of where the variation in costings can come in, some corners might be cut in order to ensure a quicker service and hence a lower cost. MHF Recommendation would be to use one of the NCC Authorised Workshops to ensure a standardised habitation service.