Author Topic: Is your rig trail ready?  (Read 8684 times)


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Is your rig trail ready?
« on: November 15, 2009, 12:11:56 pm »
Is your Rig trail ready?
Before you hit the trail do you know what condition your rig is in ? It's the difference in having fun day or a day of inconvenience . While no one can predict internal parts failure or trail damage, (it happens to everyone eventually) there are things every wheeler should do BEFORE trail day.

A pre-trip inspection needs to be done a few days prior to the trip regardless trail difficulty . This should consist of:

Engine Compartment:

Check all fluid levels, Engine oil, power steering, Antifreeze (if it is low you have a leak) BRAKE FLUID  if it is low inspect your brake linings mainly the front as they accumulate most of the fluid if they are good look for a leak.

Belts and hoses. Are they brittle, cracked, soft and bulging ?

Battery should be properly secured. A bungee cord doesn't cut it. Fully charged ,terminals clean and tight


Tires, do they have deep cuts into the casing, Do the have enough tread ? Are the lug nuts tight? A loose nut will leave a rust stain around the nut if you find one loose remove the wheel and inspect the stud hole for elongating and cracks replace the stud and nut that was loose and inspect the other for damage.

Brake hoses and lines, Do they have cracks, bulging, dampness at the joints and connections, rub marks in them ? The metal lines are they rusted badly?

Suspension and steering  for leaf springs inspect for cracks ( most of the time found directly at the axle tube between the U-bolts) the spring eyes for breaks and bushings for wear. For coil springs are they seated in the pockets? Are they broken?  Check the shocks for leaks and bushings for wear.
Check the ball joints for wear and looseness check all steering components for wear , tie rod ends, centerlinks  steering shafts u-joints . Steering gear box for looseness at the frame.
Inspect the control and trailing arms for tightness at the axle and frame if they are adjustable make sure the lock nut is tight.


Axles , check the fluid level and for contamination it should be a light tan color not milky. For the front axle check the axle shaft U joints there should be no play in them if it has any rust colored powder around the caps replace them, if the are greaseable  now is the time to do it.

Driveshafts    Look for dents and bends. Inspect the U-joints there should be no play in them, if  they have any rust colored powder around the caps replace them, if the are greaseable  now is the time to do it. Pump enough grease into them that fresh grease is coming out of all four caps this will make a mess. If you can't get grease out of all four caps the one without grease coming out  is going bad, replace it.

Transfer case , does it go into 4wd high and low range ? Inspect the fluid level and for contamination most t/c's take ATF it should be bright red if it's pink you have water in it.

Transmission,  Inspect the fluid level and check for contamination.

Recovery Equipment:

Winches, mounting bolts for tightness, check electrical connections for being clean and tight , Winch rope/cable for damage. kinks ,and frays

Tow hooks,  are they bent ,cracked, attaching bolts tight?

Recovery strap is it in good condition no frays ,loop stitching tight?

High lift jack  is it in good working order?  Lube the pins and latches.

At the very least a basic set of hand tools:  sockets , wrenches both metric and standard up to 1" and 22mm  screw drivers, pliers.   There could be a whole other thread on what you should bring with you. but this is the bare minimum .

This should take no more than an hour and a half to complete after some practice. It far better and cheaper to do it at home or the shop than to have the issues out on the trail. If you feel uncomfortable doing this ask questions and have your trail buddies  show you. Having a good mechanical understanding of your rig is one of the best trail skills you can have.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2009, 02:14:49 pm by Davew »
Stupidity, if left untreated is self-correcting


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Re: Is your rig trail ready?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2009, 12:32:31 pm »
Good Job Dave...Well done.
Wrenching on your own is one thing, but wrenching on others when they are unknowledgeable can be a PITA.
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Re: Is your rig trail ready?
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2009, 09:51:27 am »
thanks dave usually i just put gas in a go. thanks now i know what some of the signs of bad. and were water can lay thanks. muddy
98 grand cherokee mild liFT