Taking your 4×4 off-roading is a fun, adventurous ride. Whether you’re crawling through mud or climbing up mountains, off-roading is one way many people get into the outdoors.
But don’t let the outdoors get into your 4×4 vehicle – at least not too much. To keep your 4×4 ride in shape for many adventures to come, you have got to take good care of it.
In this post, we’re discussing off-road vehicle maintenance so that you can have the knowledge to keep your ride going for years to come.
The first step to taking great care of your 4×4 vehicle is to keep it spic and span. When you’ve gone into the outdoors, all of the mud, dust, leaves, dirt, sticks, rocks and grime can get into and onto your vehicle. And while it looks pretty cool to show off where your car has ventured in the day, it’s best to go ahead and clean it off after a ride or a weekend on the trails.
Sand and mud are gritty textures and can wear down not only layers of paint but also the more important parts of your vehicle. Grit can get into your brake pads and suspension parts – things you simply cannot drive without. It’s best to clean after each run to ensure these materials are removed. Spray down your vehicle not only on the outside but also the undercarriage. And if you’ve upgraded your vehicle with undercarriage protection or bullbars, you’ll want to make sure to take these items apart once or even twice a year (depending on how active you are with your vehicle) to make sure you remove mud and sand deposits that tend to build up here.
Don’t forget to also spray down the engine compartment to remove any of the same loose sand particles or mud deposits from your day’s off-roading experience. Even small leaves and twigs may get stuck around your vehicle. Look underneath and be sure to pay close attention to remove all vegetation. This will help prevent damage to your vehicle’s most important parts.
Change the Oil
Like in any vehicle, it is important to stick to your regular oil changes – whether you do it yourself or take it into a garage. Off-roading in your 4×4 vehicle puts extra stress on the engine, so sticking to regular oil changes is essential to the health of your vehicle and its engine. Make sure to note in your vehicle’s owner’s manual the type of oil required for your particular ride. Sticking to fresh oil and oil filters will ensure a long life for your truck.
When driving off-road, your alignment is sure to get a little wacky. Making sure to regularly have your tires not only balanced but also rotated helps ensure the safety of your vehicle and can prevent costly repairs. And keeping up with having your wheels aligned when necessary is key to a healthy and safe suspension system.
Rotating the tires on your 4×4 vehicle even more often than a regular car or truck will help spread the load – tires on off-road vehicles tend to wear differently. Keeping your tires rotated will extend the life of your tires and may also help you have a more smooth trail ride on your next run.
Your tires can become unbalanced through off-roading with each pothole, tree stump and large rock you roll over. Balancing your tires each time you have an oil change and tire rotation will help reduce unnecessary wear on the suspension of your vehicle.
Ever notice your steering wheel pulling to one side? If your 4×4 seems to not drive as straight as it normally would, it’s probably out of alignment. Poor alignment can lead to more wear and tear on your tires and your vehicle won’t operate as smoothly as it usually would. Make sure to have your alignment checked if you experience any uneven driving.
Don’t forget to regularly check the air pressure in your tires. The air pressure can change from day to day, especially in changing seasons where the day is warmer but the nights become cooler. Having the appropriate air pressure in your tires will give you a more smooth and safe ride each time you’re on the trails.
Filters and Fluids
Not only must you replace your oil filter regularly, but make sure to check your engine’s air filter as well. A clean air filter will help keep your engine healthy. Air filters in vehicles often taken off road can become dirty much more quickly than vehicles used for highway commute because dust and dirt are much more prevalent when on the trails. Most air filters are to be changed every one-to-two years (about 15,000-25 or 30,000 miles of driving) but for vehicles used frequently off-road, you will want to check the health of your air filter more often.
Keeping up with the fluids in your car is another non-negotiable in 4×4 vehicle maintenance. Engine oil may be the first fluid you think of. It is important to not only keep your engine oil clean but also make sure it doesn’t get too low. If it’s dirty, change it. Sometimes engine oil can be contaminated with water (if you’ve driven into deep creeks or pools), so making sure the oil is safe for your vehicle is important to keep your 4×4 healthy – and to keep you safe!
Next would be to check your coolant levels. The coolant in your vehicle keeps your engine from overheating. Don’t leave for a ride without making sure you have plenty of clean coolant in the reservoir. You do not want to end up with an overheated truck in the middle of a trail at 8pm at night.
Also, remember to fill your washer fluid! If you’re driving through some dusty or muddy terrain, being able to wash your windshield off will allow you to keep going – literally. You can’t keep driving without being able to see through the glass. Make sure to fill the tank before you leave. If you’re going on a long trip, bring a backup of washer fluid just in case.
Even if you don’t feel or see something irregular going on with your vehicle, it’s a good idea to take it in for a regular inspection to make sure everything is working at its best. Find a mechanic to do a thorough inspection of all your vehicle’s parts to keep it at it’s healthiest will ensure you years of fun in a healthy, working 4×4 vehicle. In or around the Denver area? Call us today at 303-286-0338 to schedule an inspection of your 4×4 car, truck or SUV!