If you’re a proud 4×4 owner, it’s crucial that you take care of it. Car maintenance is vital for any vehicle owner, but particularly for those with an off-road car. They might be sturdy, but they’re not bulletproof! Driving a 4×4 is an amazing experience for any car lover. The feeling of large chunky wheels carrying a heavy and powerful machine is exhilerating. When you take it off road, it attacks the bumps and rough terrain. Lately, SUVs have become increasingly popular with growing families too. It’s no secret that 4×4 are slowly coming to dominate our roads.
However, they are particularly susceptible to problems. If you take your 4×4 off road, it’s much more likely to receive bumps and knocks that can cause damage. The tyres take a battering and the engine is thrown about on the sketchy terrain. To ensure it stays in pristine condition, you need to make time for regular self-maintenance.
Taking care of the vehicle and inspecting under the bonnet will help keep it in tip top condition. The last thing you want is a breakdown on your next adventure! A flat battery, worn tyre or oil leak is bad at the best of times. However, if you’re half way up a mountain or on a forest trail, you’re in real trouble. Without further ado, here’s how you keep your machine running safely.
Anti-rust – Given their off-road nature, 4x4s are much more susceptible to rust. They attract mud, dirt, and puddle water as you crash through rough terrain and fields. If you’ve taken an off-road adventure, it’s crucial that you clean the car thoroughly when you return. That mud and water can cause oxidisation in the paint and metalwork. Over time, it will cause rust to set in and eat away at the chassis. You can also apply an oil-type treatment to the bodywork that will help keep rust away.
Check and replace fluids – If you’re heading off-road, you can expect plenty of bumps and scrapes along the way. It may cause cracks and leaks in the fluid tanks. With that in mind, take the time to open up the bonnet and take a good, long look at the inside. The oil is your most important aspect here. Make sure it is a healthy brown colour and well within the lines on your dipstick. Try to change it completely every 3,000 miles. Ensure that your coolant is fully topped up too. It will help keep the engine at the right temperature when you’re pushing it hard!
Check the battery – This isn’t specific to 4x4s, but it is general good advice for car owners! Battery issues are the single biggest cause of roadside breakdowns. You can significantly lower your chances of costly repairs and roadside embarrassment by checking the charge. Some new models now respond to your smartphone and you can check the charge this way. For older models, you’ll need a multimeter and hook it up to the battery.
Servicing – Unfortunately all the self-maintenance in the world won’t stop deep-rooted problems. Some issues, such as worn clutch cables and starter problems are difficult to see coming. Only a full service will spot the early signs and fix it up. If you bought your vehicle from a used 4×4 dealer, there may be maintenance services available to you. Make sure you take advantage of these and get a full health check on a regular basis.
Tyres – It’s no surprise that the tyres on a 4×4 tend to wear down quicker than your average car. When you’re hitting the off-road tracks, the tyres and wheels take the burden of the terrain. It’s often rocky, and punctures can happen quickly. Before you take a trip off-road, make a thorough inspection of your tyres. Check the tyre pressure is exactly in accordance with your car’s manual. If it’s too low, you could put a lot of strain on your engine. Too high, and it could cause dangerous driving off-road. The right pressure will also lower your running costs. Finally, check the tread depth. Anything below 2mm could leave you vulnerable to punctures and lack of grip off-road. The tyres on most 4x4s are generally more reliable than a smaller car. But, this doesn’t mean they’re impenetrable!
Undercarriage and brakes – Last of all, get underneath the car and check the chassis and undercarriage. It’s not always easy to spot the damage that can take place under here. Take the wheels off and inspect the brakes too.
Keeping your 4×4 in tip top shape is essential if you want the car to last a long time. Follow this advice and you’ll unlock years of life.