Cleaning Your Vehicle After A Mudding 4X4 Trail Ride

Although we live in the southwest, where most of the trails are sandy, we love going on mudding adventures. It’s not that driving on sand isn’t an adventure on its own, it’s just that mudding is awesome, dirty fun. As an off-roader, sometimes you want to drive through some mud and dirt. That’s why in addition to planning our regular trail rides, we at Dixie 4 Wheel Drive also plan some trips to muddy trails to test our 4 wheelers.

As fun as mudding is (seeing it flying all over is an awesome sight), it tends to get everywhere and those few seconds of fun often mean lots of hours cleaning up afterward.

We know some people like riding around town with mud splattered rigs showing them off like a badge of honor but we’d advise you to wash off the mud as soon as possible after your mudding session. Once it dries out, mud can cause a host of problems and be much harder to get rid of than when wet.

Here are 3 main reasons to clean your ride right after splashing through mud:

  1. Mud is sticky and when it dries it tends to suck stuff along with it as all points on your vehicle with rubber seals or those with vital lubricants like grease are at risk. Parts of the vehicle prone to this include the mud hubs and the grease nipples around the suspension.

  2. Some types of mud such as red mud can be extremely corrosive and when left too long it eats into your vehicle’s rubbers and plastics.

  3. Mud and alternators don’t mix. While water in the alternator might not really be a big issue, adding mud to it eventually makes the contacts suffer. If this is repeated, the alternator will fail, causing all kinds of electrical problems.

Cleaning Your 4WD After A Mudding Session

Now that we are in agreement that your rig needs to be cleaned ASAP after driving through mud, here’s how to do it:

  • Pressure wash it.

Cleaning a rig is a chore at the best of times but it’s especially challenging after mud driving. You need to clean it as soon as possible before the mud dries up. In order to speed up the process, use high pressure. This helps loosen and get rid of chunks of mud that would otherwise take ages to scrub off.

You can invest in a good pressure washer and get the job done yourself. The only downside to this is that it makes a mess of your driveway, meaning you’ll have to spend more time cleaning that up as well. If you choose to pressure wash it yourself, remember to get U-attachments to help you easily reach and clean the undercarriage.

Alternatively, you can take it to a car wash and have them take care of the mess. Several car washes use warm water to rinse off mud, making its removal quick and easy.

  • Give it a good wash down next.

After pressure washing the rig, it’s time to give it a good wash down. Pay careful attention to all the parts that have crevices and cracks that attract and hold mud. Make sure to scrub the grille, bumper and wheel arches. Also carefully clean the radiator grates and check that there’s no mud left in the little vents. Dried mud in there can cause overheating and we don’t need to tell you how dangerous that is.

  • Give the tires a good scrub.

The tires shouldn’t be left out either. Dirty, muddy tires can lose traction making driving dangerous for you. To clean them, first use a pressure washer with warm water then finally go over the tires with a tire brush to ensure you get all the dirt and grime from the grooves. Make sure you give the rims a good clean too so that they get back that shine we all love so much.

  • Clean under the hood too.

It’s also good to rinse down the engine bay but be careful how you go about it. Don’t blast water into it because of all the precious electronics in there and also don’t flood it with water for the same reason. Be especially cautious around the air filter. If you’re not sure how to clean mud from under the hood, take it to a 4×4 auto shop where experienced technicians can get the job done without causing damage.

A Few Handy Tips

Here are some other general tips on cleaning your vehicle after a mudding 4×4 trail ride:

  • Don’t use any cleaners containing alcohol and ammonia. These are harsh substances and they will eventually discolor and wear out the plastic surfaces on your vehicle.

  • Spray some Armor All around the body, especially your vehicle’s undercarriage and powertrain before heading for a 4×4 mudding adventure. While this won’t protect the car from mud, it will act as a protective layer, preventing the mud from sticking on like glue to the undercarriage. It also makes it easy for you to rinse off the mud afterward.

  • Once you’re done with cleaning the vehicle, make a thorough examination afterward to check the engine, vents, tires, etc., to ensure the vehicle is still in good working condition. It’s also good practice to take it for regular servicing and maintenance after a mudding trip just so that you can be assured that everything is working as it should and that there’s no lasting damage.

  • Give your mudding monster a special treat by waxing it once you’ve cleaned it. This will give your paint job a protective layer and have it looking as good as new.

Keeping your rig clean after a mudding session helps keep it in good condition and goes a long way towards extending its lifespan. Sure washing out all that dirt and grime can be a pain but it’s worth it in the end.

Also, don’t forget to bring your truck or jeep to Dixie 4 Wheel Drive after a mudding trail ride so our 4X4 specialists can ensure everything is running properly.


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