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A Guide to 4WD Maintenance

Picture this.

A long weekend away from the big smoke. There’s bright sun, peaceful green landscapes with no one in sight, and an esky full of all the food and drink you could wish for. It’s just you, your trusted 4-wheel drive (4WD), and the great outdoors. You’re finally enjoying the time you needed to reset, recharge your batteries, and appreciate just how serene our beautiful country really is. 

But suddenly there’s an issue with your engine. You’re stuck in the mud, and your 4WD won’t shift. This can derail even the most perfect weekend, and leave you scrambling, wondering whether you missed your last 4WD service. Sound familiar?

The team at Filters and More know that unfortunately, this is a situation that happens all too often. Thankfully, there are several steps that you can take to prevent these situations from happening in the first place. To help you prepare for your next getaway, we’ve written your go-to guide to 4WD maintenance that you can follow to make sure your 4WD is firing on all cylinders. By following this guide, you can have complete confidence in your 4WD each and every time you head out in pursuit of that perfect weekend.

Regular Maintenance Tasks

While it’s important to have your 4WD serviced regularly by qualified mechanics, there’s simply no substitute for a regular maintenance schedule that addresses all the common issues that your vehicle may face. From checking your tyre pressure and inspecting your brakes to checking your engine’s various filters, you’ll never be short of tasks to keep your 4WD in working order. 

Fluid and Filter Checks

One of the most important tasks you can carry out before your next adventure is checking your fluids and filters to prevent an inconvenient breakdown when emergency assistance isn’t within arms reach. While this may sound like a difficult task, it’s something that can easily be learnt and will eventually become a routine and simple part of your maintenance program. 

Your filters and fluid are responsible for keeping your engine in top condition, so it’s important to have quality parts installed before you pack your things for the weekend. If you don’t have a good oil filter, fuel filter or air filter, make sure you invest in one to keep your engine in good condition. 

Fluid and Filter Checks

Check Your Engine Oil

Following this, you’ll need to check your engine oil, making sure that it’s a golden honey colour and at a reasonable level. If it is dirty or you’re low on fluid, your oil filter may be to blame, so you may need to clear your existing filter or purchase a new, quality oil filter. Whatever you decide to do, make sure your engine oil is changed before you set off, because clean engine oil will ensure your engine has the lubrication it needs and will remove debris to ensure your engine functions smoothly at all times.


Check On Your Coolant

You’ll also need to check your engine coolant is not low or milky in colour, and if it is, you’ll need to contact a mechanic. Coolant is particularly important to consider in your 4WD servicing because when your engine works at low speeds, such as when you drive off-road, there will be less airflow in your cabin. This puts the onus on your cooling system to regulate the engine’s temperature and prevent it from overheating, which is a common reason for breakdowns.


Check Your Air Filter

When you drive off-road, your air filter will inevitably pick up more debris than usual in the form of water, dirt, rocks, and other unfavourable elements. Therefore, it’s important for you to check your air filter before you set off, ensuring it is not already clogged up. While you may wish to clear and clean your air filter, it may be necessary to purchase a new air filter if it is entirely clogged up before you leave. 

While you may only require one new filter, it may be advisable to instead invest in a 4WD filter kit that has each of the filters you need. This means you’ll have a reliable replacement at your disposal should you require one at any time, whether on the road or at home before you leave. If the idea of checking filters is entirely new to you, it may be best to start learning about these important parts of your engine with this helpful guide


Brake Inspections

While regular checks of your various filters and fluids are important in making sure your 4WD gets moving, brake inspections are crucial to ensuring it stops when you need it to. Unfortunately, the brakes of a 4WD are often neglected when owners carry out their regular maintenance schedule, even though it is a very easy and hugely important task to carry out. 

All you need to do is test your brakes, making sure you listen out for any squeaks or noises when you bring your vehicle to a stop, as well as taking note of any vibrations or differences in the way your brake pedal feels. If you do notice any of these irregularities, make sure you have the brakes inspected by a mechanic. While you’re checking your brakes, ask a friend to check your brake lights are working, and while you’re at it, make sure each of your headlights are working too. 

If you’re particularly keen on ensuring you carry out a comprehensive 4WD service each and every time, you may also wish to check the brake lines that run along the underside of your 4WD’s chassis. You can inspect the lines for any leaks or damage very easily, and you should make sure that each line is properly attached to prevent it from catching on off-road debris and ripping. 


Inspect the Undercarriage

When you take your 4WD out for another adventure, you’ll likely head off-road and make the most of the possibilities that all-wheel driving presents. If you do plan on this, it’s important to inspect the underside of your 4WD before you leave, and give it a thorough clean after each of your trips.

When you clean the underside of your 4WD, use a pressure washer to give all the surfaces a thorough rinse, and then brush the surfaces with soapy water to remove any excess mud, dirt or debris. After this, let the soap sit for roughly 20 minutes before rinsing it off. While you’re down there, it’s important to inspect the undercarriage, making sure you take note of any rust or corrosion, as this can lead to costly damage later on.

4WD Splash

Remember Your Tyres

Your 4WD would be nothing without a quality set of tyres that help you navigate your way through the muddiest and most uneven surfaces with ease. To make sure you don’t have any problems making your way through tough terrain, be sure to check the pressure of each of your tyres (including your spare) before starting your expedition. Tighten each of the nuts on all of your wheels with a quality spanner or wrench, and check the tread to make sure don’t have any issues later on. 

It’s also a good idea to make sure you stick to a regular tyre rotation schedule to increase their lifespan and makes sure that they do not experience an inconsistent level of wear and tear. This will stop a blowout from happening when you’re in a location that's far from convenient, and it will save you money in the long run too. 

So, What Should I Do Now?

By following each part of this guide when you carry out your 4WD servicing, you’ll be preparing your vehicle very well for any challenge that mother nature throws your way. While there are many extra steps that you can take to ensure every single part of your 4WD works at its peak performance, this guide will be enough to ensure you can enjoy an easy weekend and easily address any problems that arise on your travels. 

Happy off-roading!

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