6 Things To Do After a Big Trip
You've just conquered the High Country or completed the famous Canning Stock Route or perhaps you crossed the Simpson Dessert. You took in the landscape and the demands of driving through it. After its all said and done, you've come home and removed all the gear off your rig. What do you do?
Lay on the couch and watch Netflix? Yeh sure, but not before you go over your vehicle and give it a thorough once over first. After all, it is the camel that took you across the desert.
The pressure and tension placed on a 4WD on a long and gruelling trip off the black-top can be higher than one thinks, and even the most modified rugged rigs will need some diagnosis to sort out any potential issues before they become serious and expensive. It doesn’t need to be a long marathon-like scrutiny but rest assured, it can save you a lot of time and a few dollars down the track. In addition to this, a thorough once over will vastly reduce the possibility of getting stuck and isolated when you least expect it.
So when you get back to base, always go through this checklist to stave off and potential dangers going forward. The list can be endless, but here is a great starting point that covers most bases:
1. Clean up your 4x4. Cud that you allow to cake and bake can hide bad faults, giving them the grand opportunity to get into a world of nasty before we identify them. Rust also has a chance to surface because dirt has a natural talent of trapping moisture against the metal. Once rust attaches on to moving parts, wear and tear increases dramatically. So give your rig a thorough bath, including the underside - ESPECIALLY the underide. So many neglect what they don't see, and nearly 100% of the time, this is where the problems occur. Clean out the interior as well, before dirt, mud and dust has a chance to get ground in.
2. Top up fluids. Just like the human body, your vehicle needs essential fluids to function at its optimum level. Vibrations and the constant nicking of flying stones underbody can cause the most minutest of leaks. But ignore these and soon you'll need to contend with major expensive leaks. Once you vehicle is free of dirt, it is recommended all fluid levels are inspected to ensure none of them are falling. If you do need to top them up, then allow your 4x4 to stand for a few hours then look underneath for drips, too.
3. Sort out filters. It goes without saying that air filters cop a flogging when you’ve driven endlessly over dusty terrain. Besides getting in everywhere, the chances are your air filter has had a hard time. If the terrain is dusty on a daily basis, the air filter is something you should look at pretty much on a daily basis or every other day. Replace it if necessary.
4. Tighten up an screws, nuts and/or bolts. Ever driven the Canning Stock Route or worse, the Gunbarrel Highway? Yes? Then you know what corrugations can do to a 4WD. They can be brutal. With near earthquake-like behaviour, corrugations can give everything such a vicious unrelenting shaking that nuts, bolts and screws can and will literally undo themselves (its why we always carry zip ties). So when we get home, it's crucial we inspect and ensure that everything is still secure; if not, tighten it up. Also, be especially attentive to any accessories or mods you installed yourself. Obvious things to look at are bull bars and winches as they are mounted with bolts.
5. Don't forget the suspension. Run a magnifying glass over the shocks for any signs of damage because they usually take the brunt for any rocks thrown up by your tyres, as well as damaged or cut tree roots, stumps and larger boulders.
6. Overhaul wiring. Quite often we have a crack at doing some wiring ourselves. If so, check that all the connections are still secure and nothing’s chafing.
A quick self-servicing like the above doesn’t have to take very long, but it can save you a lot of time and a lot of potential heart ache later. If you nip everything in the bud as soon as you get home, you will be much better off for it. You also won’t get hit with heavy expenses for anything that was overlooked to go seriously wrong.
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