It’s The Little Things That Count

Paying attention to small details will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip!

Over the years, I have done my fair share of 4WDing trips and have had the opportunity to help set up a number of vehicles for remote touring. I 've recently helped set up one for a return trip to the Cape and another for a trip to the Kimberley - Even more interesting was an opportunity I had recently to set up a vehicle for a remote overseas trip.
  One of the main things I’ve learnt is that it is usually the little things that fail and need attention along the way. For remote traveling, not only do you need to take spares with you, but you also need to make sure you take tools, and before you head out you need to know your 4WD. By this I mean you need to know how it drives, where your gauges sit and the systems you have.
It’s also not just being able to take a starter motor with you, but you may need to know how to replace it, and how to do it safely.

Adam shows Andreas everything he might need to know on his 4WD before he leaves for his big trip


Adam shows Andreas everything he might need to know on his 4WD before he leaves for his big trip.

helping out a fellow traveller is a great way to ‘pay it forward’.


Helping out a fellow traveller is a great way to ‘pay it forward’.

Replacing this wheel bearing in China would have been much harder without a spare on board, or a hand from the local mechanics...karma rolling around again!


Replacing this wheel bearing in China would have been much harder without a spare on board, or a hand from the local mechanics...karma rolling around again!

Two vehicles I set up recently were Brett’s, for his trip to to the Kimberley; and Ben’s, for his mission to the Cape. Both travelers highlighted the need for daily checks before leaving for the next destination. Both Brett and Ben know their 4WDs and could pick up and hear noises before they became bigger problems.
Ben could hear a constant rattle when driving and found his rear control arm bolts very loose. Brett found himself tightening up everything including the dump pipe on his exhaust system where the bolts had come so loose that new nuts needed to be fitted.
Traveling constant corrugations makes remote touring completely different to your trip to your local 4WD spot. Without taking the correct tools, spares and a good nuts and bolt box, small problems quickly become big, costly problems.


When I set up a Patrol for a trip around Europe, I told the owner Andreas to take a starter motor with him.  His reply was, “Won’t need it, if it doesn’t work I can push start the 4WD, it’s a manual.”
I then had to remind him that he was traveling by himself with a 3 tonne 4WD through sand, making push starts very difficult! He took a starter motor and ended up needing two along the way.
If you’re going to ask me what you should take, it really depends where you are traveling. It’s important to factor in the type of driving you’re going to be doing. Lots of river crossings can play havoc with parts like your alternator and starter motor. Your daily checks should include walking around the 4WD and looking it over very closely.  If you know your vehicle well, you may just spot that aerial mast that has worked loose and is about to fall off, or that snorkel that has pulled its bolts from the pillar.
Look for wetness around the driveline and front hubs. You might pick up an oil leak before it develops. Check your breather lines to the gearbox and diffs. Look for any clean spots around bolts; these are a dead giveaway that the bolt is loose.
Once you have done your walk, then get underneath and check and tighten everything you can. Check your oil, water and tyres, brake fluid and air filter. Look and check your belts, and don’t forget to check your radiator not only for signs of leaks, but if you have been driving through mud your radiator fins might be partially blocked.
Once the car is checked and the windscreen is clean, it’s time to check your recovery gear especially if you have used it the previous day. Never assume it’s OK – if you have used the winch, take the time to unwind it and roll it back up evenly on the drum ready for your next use. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a winch cable rolled up on one side and bound together.  You will have no chance of being able to use it when you need it.
Everyone who is prepared usually takes things like spare hoses and belts, puncture repair kits, etc. But it is surprising how little things like fuses, spare valves for the tyres and hose clamps are left behind. You can’t fix a leaking hose if the hose clamp is damaged.
Wheel studs and nuts are often forgotten. Other little things like a valve remover and some two-part epoxy metal are also a great addition to your tool kit.
We 4WDers are a pretty cool bunch. We not only like to be self sufficient, but we also take pride in being able to help each other, that’s the ‘Australian way.’ So the spares and tools that you take may help to get someone else home safely.
Make some time do your checks and think about the little things, and remember, “it’s the little things that count.”
Travel safe and GO NUTS!

 


Qualified motor mechanic Adam Adler has spent half his life under the bonnet of a 4WD and has worked for some of the top accessory companies and workshops. He knows what it takes to get your vehicle out there and back home in one piece. He runs the online aftermarket store www.nutsabout4wd.com.au.

 


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