Trail Vehicle Maintenance: How to Keep Your Truck in Great Shape

After a long day exploring the trails and pushing your truck to its limit the only thing you want when you get home is a shower and a cold beer. But hold on! Your work is not yet done. There are still some tasks that need to be done. Your rig served you well and it’s time to do some trail vehicle maintenance checks to ensure that it stays in great shape. Exposure to sand, mud, water, and dust can cause parts of the truck to wear out quickly.

Giving your vehicle a quick check after a day of off-roading ensures that you can get ahead of problems. This will not only save you from having a breakdown on the trail or highway but also helps you nip small issues in the bud before they become bigger and more expensive to sort out in the future.

Trail Vehicle Maintenance Checks

When we at Dixie 4 Wheel Drive are not working on custom Jeep builds, we’re out on the trails testing them out. We’ve seen first-hand the kind of damage that can result from neglecting to do a post-trail checkup. To help you avoid this sad fate, we’ve put together a list of things you should run through once you get back from your off-roading adventure.

Do a whole vehicle clean up.

After a day off-roading, your truck is probably caked in sand, mud, dirt, or a combination of all three. Before putting it away, give the truck a thorough cleaning. If you don’t want to go with a full wash, you can settle for hosing it down to get all the mud and dirt off. Drying mud can be especially corrosive if left on the vehicle so be sure to get all traces off. Additionally, cleaning up your vehicle ensures that you prevent the spread of any invasive plant species you might have picked up on the trail which is great for the environment. Start by washing and vacuuming the undercarriage before popping the hood and hosing out the engine compartment.

Check out the tires

The tires literally held you up the entire time you were driving around so it makes sense to check them first. Inspect them carefully for any deep cuts and also check to see if the treads are worn out. After that, check to see if there are any missing lug nuts and ensure that those as well as the bead locks are nice and tight.

It’s good practice to air down on the trail to increase traction. Now that the tires are aired back up, check the tire pressure to see that it’s correct. Check the pressure again once the tires have cooled down to ensure that it’s within the right range. Don’t forget to give the spare tire a good inspection too to make sure it’s also in good condition.

Check under the hood

After hosing down the engine compartment, ensure that everything is in good working order. Carefully inspect all the hoses, clamps, and belts and replace anything that looks work out. Also, have the truck idle for a while so you can listen for any strange valve train noises to see if any repairs are needed.

It’s also a good idea to check for leaks and drips before making sure that all fluids including oil, coolant, power steering, antifreeze, and transmission fluids are replaced or topped up as needed. Examine the air filter for debris and if it’s not washable, clean and oil it instead. Finally, check that the radiator isn’t clogged as this can cause the engine to overheat and sustain damage when tearing down the trails.

Check the differentials and transmission

Once you’re done cleaning the truck’s undercarriage, inspect the differentials and transmission for signs of damage. You may have installed a heavy-duty differential cover as part of your custom jeep mods but even that can get dented and leak.

If you forded any water during your adventure, make sure you check your fluids. Cloudy or milky looking oil means that some water got in and it needs to be changed.

Give the frame a quick inspection

While you are still under the truck, take time to inspect the frame for signs of twisting, stress, or cracking especially along weld lines or high-stress areas. It might cost some cash to fix these issues now but that’s better than incurring worse damage later on.

Grease things up

As you’re inspecting the frame, make sure to grease things up as you go. Pay special attention to the u-joints and driveshafts. Greasing these areas ensures that parts don’t rub against each other resulting in wear because of the friction.

Examine the suspension and shocks

All that bouncing around on the trail can easily shake things loose so check that everything that makes up the suspension components is still tight and secure. As you check out the suspension, keep an eye out for damage or wear on the control arms, track bar springs and bump stops. While at it, tighten any loose nuts and bolts and take time to also inspect the brakes, shocks, and axles. Pay particular attention to the brake lines to ensure they don’t lose power unexpectedly on the trail as this could spell disaster.

Take care of the winch

If you used the winch while out on the trail, you may not have had enough time to neatly put it away. Now that you’re back home, take some time to re-spool it properly so it’s ready to go when next needed.

Delegate Your Trail Vehicle Maintenance Checks

If you don’t have the time to give your vehicle a thorough checkup after a day on the trails, bring it over to the Dixie 4 Wheel Drive auto shop and we’ll do it for you. We offer a range of trail prep and safety packages designed to ensure your truck is in top condition for your next off-roading adventure.

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