Want your 4WD to last? Check it thoroughly, and regularly

I’ve always been an avid fan of doing a daily walk around your 4WD before you head off, to make sure its all hanging together properly and everything is in good condition. Where you’ve been, and what you are doing will depend on how through it needs to be, but a quick look under the bonnet, over the driveline and overall can save you a fair chunk of time and inconvenience.

Dmax body mounts
Getting under your 4WD to do a physical check is always worth it

On our last 3 week trip to the Pilbara, I was overdue to have a good look over our Dmax and camper trailer, and decided on one quiet afternoon to break out the tools and have a look over everything. My first inspection under the bull bar identified where a new rattle had been coming from; one of the M12 bolts holding our bash plates up was down by about 5mm, and was allowing the two bash plates to chatter together and make a loud noise.

I suspect it had been that way for some time as the bolt thread felt awfully tight and potentially damaged, but I managed to get it nipped up nice and tight. A further look identified a missing bolt from the bottom of the bull bar, which had clearly walked its way out. I carry a number of different fasteners, and quickly found a bolt that would replace the missing one and put it in.

Tools and spares
We carry a fair few fasteners with us

Looking over everything else and I couldn’t see any evidence of other damage, wear or oil leaks, so I was pretty happy. I check the oil level, coolant, brake fluid and everything else fairly often, and arrange to drain to the Provent 200 catch can at no more than 2000km, or it starts to build up.

Next on the agenda was the wheel nuts, which I’ve proven time and time again start to work their way loose on rough roads even when torqued to the correct spec. The front wheels on the Dmax were not too bad, but I did nip them a little bit. The rear wheels though were surprisingly loose, and I got a good quarter of a turn on many of the wheel nuts, which was a good pick up.

Even our camper trailer had quite a few looser wheel nuts that got a good tighten, and they are steel wheels. If you don’t keep your studs correctly tensioned you risk them snapping off, or equally as bad the nuts walk off and you lose a wheel mid way down a gravel track at speed.

Now though, I’ve got a torque wrench and I use this every couple of weeks on the road, to ensure that no nuts are coming loose. This is the only way you’ll do it properly, as just nipping them will eventually lead to stretched wheel studs and that’s no good.

Torque Wrench on the Dmax
Using a torque wrench is the only way to do it properly, and we now carry one full time

I also had a good look around for any built up spinifex, as we’d spent a fair bit of time doing various tracks through the Pilbara. Fortunately most were in good condition, and asides from a tiny bit caught in little pinch points around the place it was nothing to be worried about.

All in all, it probably took me about 30 minutes of my time before I walked down to Mussel Pool and jumped in for a cool dip, to wash the dirt and sweat away.

Mussel Pool swimming hole
We had a nice swim in Mussel Pool after, at Cheela Plains

Pre trip inspections are critical; if you ignore noises, or don’t regularly look you can find yourself in a world of pain, when 5 minutes at the right time could have entirely avoided it.

Do you spend any time checking over your 4WD? Has it paid off?

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