So you and your 4wd have spent a great few days out in the bush, enjoying the landscape and the challenges of driving through it. Now you’re back home and your gear is unloaded. Time to pop a cold one and relax? Not yet – you should give your vehicle a bit of care and attention first.
An off-road trip is pretty stressful on mechanical stuff, and even the toughest vehicle is going to need a bit of post-trip servicing to sort out any issues before they become serious. It doesn’t have to take long but it can save you a lot of time and money later, plus reduce the risk of you finding yourself stuck somewhere. Here’s a quick checklist for what to do when you get home:
Clean up, inside and out. A dirty 4wd is a badge of pride, but not one you want to wear too long. Caked mud can hide faults, giving them a chance to get worse before you notice them. Dirt also encourages rust by trapping moisture against the metal, and if it gets on moving parts (which it will) it increases wear. Wash your vehicle down thoroughly, including the underside. Clean out the interior as well, before dirt has a chance to get ground in.
Check all your fluids. Vibration and flying stones can cause small leaks; leave these alone and they’ll soon become major leaks. Once you’ve cleaned everything off check all your fluid levels to make sure none of them are falling. Let the vehicle stand for a few hours then look underneath for drips, too.
Sort out filters. If you’ve been somewhere dusty the chances are your air filter has had a hard time. This is probably something you look at daily when you’re on the road, but now you’re home give it a proper clean, or if necessary replace it.
Tighten stuff up. Corrugations can give everything such a shaking that nuts, bolts and screws will literally undo themselves. Check everything’s still secure; if not, tighten it up. Pay extra attention to any accessories or modifications you installed yourself. Your bull bars and anything mounted on them are a priority here – they usually get more of a hammering than almost anything else.
Look at the suspension. One of the few things that takes more abuse than bull bars is your suspension. Check the shocks after every trip, for any signs of damage or leaks. They’re right in the firing line for any rocks thrown up by the tyres, as well as stumps and boulders.
Lubricate. Get the oil and grease out, and make sure everything that needs to be lubricated is. Go round all the grease nipples.
Overhaul wiring. If you’ve done any work on your vehicle the chances are it has some wiring you fitted yourself. Just check that all the connections are still secure and nothing’s chafing.
Post-trip servicing doesn’t have to take very long, but it can save you a lot of time later. If you put everything straight as soon as you get home, you won’t have as much to do before your next trip. You also won’t get hit with heavy bills for anything that was overlooked long enough to go seriously wrong. Get it done, then you can relax with a clear conscience.