The Importance of a Pre-Trip Inspection

Planning any trip in your 4WD to an amazing destination can be exciting. You will most likely research the area and plan out the best to visit. How awesome will it be camping under the …

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Aug 18 2022
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Planning any trip in your 4WD to an amazing destination can be exciting.

You will most likely research the area and plan out the best to visit.

How awesome will it be camping under the stars or fishing on the beach, taking photos of wildlife and the list goes on.

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Its always a busy time before a trip for all parties involved as there is usually so much to organise- shopping lists, camping gear, cooking gear, clothing etc.

However, whilst it’s important to plan out just how many pairs of undies and socks you will need, what about your 4X4? Is it trip ready?

The last time it was serviced was by the dealership, so what could go wrong? You might say to yourself “I cleaned the 4B last week and it looks trip ready.”

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But it’s the bits you can’t see that matter here, the parts that are out of sight and therefore, maybe, out of mind.

So here is my theory on trip preparation, and I think its worth considering. But before we start, let’s get into some background.

Over the years, I have travelled most of this great country and I have seen many things go wrong on 4WDs due to poor maintenance leading to very difficult fixes on the side of the track. This is not always due to lack of responsibility from the vehicle owner. It also might not be due to the service technician having a lack of care, or thought to ensure the vehicle is going to get you out there and back safely.

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The service technician will most likely be following a set of rules on a list as to what he needs to achieve and they will be limited to time for the log book service. They probably don’t even know that you will be heading remote in this vehicle taking it through all sorts of terrain. And importantly, they might not realise that you have just driven the Crooked River with its 20 odd water crossings exposing the running gear to constant quenching of hot metals in cold water.

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Sure your 4B might look amazingly clean on the outside, but there are so many moving parts, and these moving parts need maintenance. This might not coincide with the particular log book service which you just had. Unless you specifically ask the technician to check specific things during a service, it might not even be looked at. Did they grease the ball joints, tail shafts and suspension components and check all the driveline components?

Unfortunately, I’d have to say probably not as they are pushed for time. This could lead to failure in a remote region.

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You have planned this trip for months or maybe even years. Your vehicle is all set-up with bucket loads of accessories and is exactly as you wanted it. The investment to this point is getting up there.

If this trip is important to you and you don’t want to end up with your bonnet up looking into an engine bay, consider booking your 4B in for a Pre-Trip Inspection at an experienced 4X4 mechanic.

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What is a pre-trip inspection?

Well I think it’s the most important item in trip preparation. This is not your normal motor vehicle service, it’s a complete check of a 4WD and the components which you will be depending on.

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I do this regularly and it really has assisted me in ensuring that I get out there, get the job done and get back again safely. It’s simply coming up with a plan to have a technician look at all those moving parts for wear and ensuring they are fit for purpose, lubricated, torqued and tensioned. They will either have a list or create one for your vehicle. Rotating tyres, checking the brakes, diff oils, suspension, electrical systems, belts and filters etc… the list goes on, but this will be different for every vehicle.

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A mechanic who understands what 4WDs do and what could go wrong will know what to look for. The problems you can’t see while you’re standing there admiring your 4B in your driveway, will be spotted on a hoist by a trained eye of an experienced technician.

This offers a solution where a potential failure can be sorted in possibly no time at all.

I know this all seems extremely simple, and it really is. So just pick up your phone and make the call a few of weeks out from your important trip. This small investment in your time and dollars spent might just save your trip of a lifetime from ending up stuck in the middle of nowhere because of a failed two dollar part.

You will be heading out on a trip with confidence that your vehicle is safe, safe for you and your family to enjoy your holiday.

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So make that phone call to your 4WD service technician and tell them where you are going, approximately how many kms you will be travelling for and request a pre-trip inspection. Then call your mates who are travelling with you and tell them to do the same. This might reduce the impact on your trip if a failure occurred on their vehicle.

Its peace of mind. Safe travels everybody.

– Michael Ellem… Offroad Images

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