Following this quick 4-minute checklist is one of the best habits I’ve gotten into when I’m off road. It’s saved me from trouble more than I’d like to admit.
When your on the road, the last thing you need is something to go wrong – especially when it could have been easily prevented! Taking five minutes to follow this easy checklist will help to nip a lot of problems in the bud.
A few things to check before you even start the engine:
A quick inspection of the outside of the rig. Wheels, Lights, Wipers, Panels. Make sure there’s no obvious damage to anything.
If you’ve been driving on corrugated or rough roads (or even if you haven’t), it’s smart to run a spanner over your bolt on accessories. Any bolt on’s can rattle loose – use Loc-tite when installing to help stop this!
Wheels and tyres the main things here. Damage or deflation are the main issues to keep an eye out for. I keep a tyre pressure gauge in my glove box for a quick and easy check first thing.
Have a look at the tread for any chips, cuts or bald spots or other damage while your there. Hands up whoever’s found a nail poking OUT of the tyre? Me anyway.
While your at it do a quick run around with the tyre wrench too, just make sure those wheel nuts haven’t worked themselves loose. Loosing a wheel at any speed will very quickly end your trip and hit you in the wallet!
Next, jump underneath to see if there’s anything that shouldn’t be there – a.k.a puddles of fluid or oil. A few drops of water from the AC is normal but anything more, especially anything dark and greasy needs immediate attention.
Time to open the Bonnet. Everyone is going to have a different setup but there’s a few basic things to check. Have a look inside and check all the usual fluids, radiator coolant, break fluid,clutch fluid, power steering and auto tranny fluid.
While your here check any belts for tension and wear. Also never forget the all important windscreen washer fluid – driving with a filthy windscreen is never fun.
You’ll probably know pretty quick if your battery isn’t connected but make sure the terminals are tight. It’s a good idea to give the whole engine bay a quick look over for anything that could have vibrated loose on the tracks.
Finally before we put the key in, have a look at the air filter, make sure it’s clean (not clogged full of dust and dirt). This is especially important if you’ve been driving behind a convoy for a day or more. If it’s really dirty, replace it or at least, give it a knock out on the bulbar to get rid of some dust.
Start Your Engines
Turn the key and make sure everything ticks over ok. Any strange noises or warning lights should be noted – sometimes things can happen overnight and cause trouble just before you set off!
I like to let my engine warm up before I head off for the day, so after it’s warm I’ll quickly check the engine oil level before I close the bonnet.
Finally, Check your headlights, brake light, tail lights, and indicators. If your towing something make sure they’re all in order on the trailer too. To make it easy, just chuck on the hazards and walk around the car. If your traveling with others ask one of them for a spot while you jump on the break pedal.
On The Road
Whilst your driving, your going to be focused on the road and getting there safely, but at the odd fuel or bathroom break its a good idea to have a quick visual inspection when walking around your car to make sure nothings out of place.
Home (for tonight) at last
Fingers crossed everything has gone without a drama for the day, and there’s nothing loose or leaking. I try to have a quick last walk around the vehicle to make sure this is the case, but I’ve often found things that need a looking at before setting off again.
A flat looking tyre, a loose panel, A chipped windscreen. Any of these little problems can turn into something much bigger if they’re not sorted quickly.
If nothing else, a quick four minute check like this will buy you peace of mind. Better to enjoy your travel rather than stressing and worrying if your gonna make it to the next town.
Make sure you have the ability to make these quick fixes to keep yourself safe and keep the journey going! If not – we’re here to help!
If your looking to learn a little more about how to get yourself going out in the bush, make sure you subscribe to the 4WD Addicts and to get the latest tips, how to’s and other great 4×4 news straight to your inbox!