We’ve already started the 4WD season here at NZ4WD magazine, and it was clear from our trip to Mt Ruapeho that people have been busy during the winter ensuring their vehicles are in good nick.
But if you’re just beginning to think about what you want to do to your vehicle, well here’s a checklist to help get you going. Remember, time spent now in the workshop equates to less downtime at the side of the road!
*Give the vehicle a thorough clean, making sure to remove all traces of mud, especially any stuck to wheels (which can cause tyre imbalance). Also make sure there’s no muck in the radiator, and no leaks.
* Give it a thorough service. For a petrol engine you’ll should put in a new air filter, fuel filter/s, spark plugs, oil filter, oil, sump plug washer, points (if equipped) and condenser (if equipped). Diesel engines will need a new air filter, diesel filter/s, oil filter, sump plug washer, and oil.
* Check engine oil, coolant levels, power steering, brake fluid, transmission fluid, transfer case oil and differential oil, front and back.
* Ensure the wheel bearings are all clean and well-greased. Have a look underneath, and if the propshaft has grease nipples, clean and grease them.
* Check for cuts to the tyres, bent steering rods, and debris that might have become lodged in the underside of the vehicle.
* Check for body damage that could rub against tyres or be a hazard to others, and replace or repair.
Examine your winch if you have one fitted. Make sure it’s still operating properly, check the cable or rope for any damage (and replace if necessary), and when you spool it in, get a mate to help so you can do it under tension and get the cable in neat coils.
* If you’ve lockers fitted, test them, too, to ensure they are working properly.
* Now check the rest. Do the lights work? Does the transmission smoothly shift into all gears? Does the transfer case engage 4WD? Is your alternator working well? How are the brakes? What about tyre pressures?
* Make sure your spare tyre is the correct size and holds air, and also that your jack works and lifts the vehicle.
* Check through your recovery gear to make sure nothing has been taken out and not replaced. Take out your ropes and straps, clean them thoroughly, and rewind them tidily.
* Ensure your fire extinguisher is charged and ready for action, make sure your first aid kit hasn’t had stuff taken out, and check your torch to ensure the batteries haven’t gone flat.
* If you’ve a two-way radio in your vehicle, make sure it still works properly and hasn’t got any wires detached or corroded over winter, and that the mounting bolts are tight.. Similarly check your handheld radio if you’ve got one to see if it still transmits and receives (if you’ve only one, you’ll need a mate to lend you his to do this – and, of course, he’ll be checking his at the same time).
* If you’ve any accessories on your vehicle, go round with your ratchet spanner and tighten up any bolts you can see (and even those you can’t see). While you’re at it, check for any rust and/or damaged brackets, and either clean up or replace the offending parts.
* If you’re planning to make changes, such as giving your vehicle a lift or fitting a bulbar, now is a good time to start planning it while the rest of the vehicle is in good shape.
- While you’re at it, check out our suppliers on the following pages and in the Trading Post section. Whether it’s servicing, fixing, modifying, or just advice, you can be sure they’ll help you out.