Every 4WD will suffer some level of wear and tear on a big offroad trip; a post-trip service will stop little problems from developing into big costly problems.

WestyAs travel to the Top End of the country becomes more popular and accessible, discussing the best way to set up your 4WD is always a hot topic, however you don’t always hear the other side of the story.  It’s important to find out how the vehicle fared and which repairs may have been necessary. Here is an account of one vehicle after a pretty full-on trip to the Kimberley that involved over 8,000km of hard driving.

You may recognise this 4WD, it’s Carlisle’s. He was up in the Kimberley filming series three and driving it as hard as ever. We were lucky enough to get it delivered straight from the Top End to our workshop door, red dust and all. It was our job to go over the Cruiser and get it ship-shape and ready for the Melbourne 4x4 Show.
On the first test drive I could feel the Cruiser crabbing while driving. We also discovered there was no hand brake, some of the tyres were a bit worse for wear, the rear tailgate wouldn’t open, lights were out, fuses were blown and battery terminals burnt and melted. In other words, things were a mess.

Air filter, caked with bulldust.

Air filter, caked with bulldust.

Kimberley roads are rough on rubber.Kimberley roads are rough on rubber.

When water gets in your differential

When water gets in your differential.

Check out that scoring on the brake drum. Adam welded it and machined it, good as new.

Check out that scoring on the brake drum. Adam welded it and machined it, good as new.

Dirt in the fuel filter.

Dirt in the fuel filter.
After getting the vehicle up on the hoist and giving it a thorough inspection, I wasn’t really surprised with what we found. Loose brackets and missing bolts, battery clamps out of position, rubbing through the top of the batteries, screws stuck in them to try to keep some kind of connection. Air induction loose and clamps not in position.
The tyres that we thought were a bit worn in fact had lugs ripped out of them and the metal exposed. Two tyres had about 70 echidna quills still lodged in them. The air filter was badly clogged, the axle seals were leaking, the wheel bearings were loose and worn, the brakes were almost metal to metal with disk rotors undersized. Rear differential breathers were completely off and the rear differential was full of water logged milkshake oil.
It was missing a steering stop on the right front wheel, causing the tyre to rub on the front sway bar. The sway bar link bushes and rear control arm bushes were all either badly cracked or split.
The right rear lower control arm was bent, pulling the rear differential housing completely off its line. This had pulled the housing so much that the housing and arm were under huge pressure and we struggled to release it with pry bars and levers. Our only option was to cut the control arm in half and then remove it and of course fit up a replacement control arm.
The hand brake was not working at all and the brake shoes had worn grooves into the backing plate that were causing the hand brake to seize. We had two options for this repair: replace the backing plate or weld and fill the grooves. We decided to attempt to weld them, which worked a treat so now the 4WD has a functioning handbrake.
The diesel fuel filter was doing its job well. When we removed it for replacement there was a lot of dirt caught in the bottom of the filter and the filter paper was very dirty and discoloured. Around town you don’t really see dirt like this, but it is common when travelling in remote areas.
We had our work cut out for us getting the Cruiser back to 100% in time for the show, but I’m glad to say we managed it on time and it’s now ready for the next adventure. Setting your vehicle up correctly for a big trip is extremely important, but remember not to neglect your 4WD once you return as this is when it is most likely to really need a good service.


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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