Preventative Maintenance 2 After the Trail Ride
Preventative Maintenance 2 – After the Trail Ride
By Justin Banner
You’ve checked it out before, took it for a ride, and now you’re back home. What are some things you should inspect after your trail ride?
Some owners will assume the first check is enough. Let’s face it, you went through your vehicle before you went out. Why would you need to perform a check after if you’re going to do it before you go out again? The answer is simple: to give you more time and not find a critical failure with only a few days to a week before you head out.
The Most Obvious Checks
If you’ve hit something or damaged anything on your vehicle while on the trails and rocks, that’s going to be where you start. Check your bumpers for considerable damage if you hit boulders and make sure they aren’t too bent or cracked. Hit something with your skid plate? Check it to make sure it’s not rubbing against something. It’s those obvious things you should check for to make sure you’re not about to cause more damage in the future.
You’ll end up cleaning your rig anyhow, but you should be sure to get into places a hose or pressure washer aren’t going to reach. You’ll have to reach around by hand and remove rocks, dirt, and other trail rubble as these might not get blasted out with water pressure alone. You’ll want to wear gloves, just in case you find something a little more prickly than sand and tree branches.
You’ll want to do it for two reasons. First, you’ll remove stuff that will eventually fall off and potentially get stuck in something that rotates. Things like your driveshafts, brake rotors, drums, and even axles. If any of those things stop, its going to be sudden and stuff will most likely break.
Hey, even getting a rock stuck in your drive belt or belts are no fun. It may throw a belt, but if it does that to the power steering while you’re trying to turn or the alternator while you’re using your winch, that will be trouble.
Second, it’s stuff that will eventually fall off and get flung out to the person or vehicle behind you. The trails are hazardous enough on their own. There’s no need to add to it by turning your tires into sudden trebuchets when no one expects it. This is especially if you happen to drive your vehicle on the streets and highways around you.
Washing Your Rig
Wash your vehicle, if not for anything but to make it clean. However, it can reveal damage done to the body, chassis, and other parts that hide under the dirt. You don’t have to do a toothbrush detail but removing dirt and mud should be what you’re looking to achieve. A power washer is a great tool for a quick job, but a water hose works well, too.
As mud and clumps of dirt erode, look at the parts they reveal. Mud and pileups of dirt can hide bends in metal, broken or cracked plastic parts, and more. There will be scratches of course, but that’s not what you’re searching for. Hey, it’s an off-road vehicle – scratches are a part of the game.
Once that’s taken care of, you can go through and do a deeper dive by following many of the same steps you did in the pre-ride maintenance. You don’t have to lube anything, but you should still check the condition of joints, wear parts, and anything exposed under the chassis. If any dirt has reached inside boots or seals, then you’ll want to clean and lubricate those parts again.
If damaged parts can be repaired, do so. If not, replace them. Simple logic, but now is the time to do it rather than waiting until the last minute. However, it’s understandable that you might not be able to get everything at one time. What will help is to create a list of anything broken or damaged that need repairs and keep it somewhere visible on the vehicle. A trick some of our techs do for this is to place their repair order lists on the driver’s side of the dash. This may remind you as you step into the vehicle and see the reflection of the list in the windshield. If you garage your rig, keep it under the windshield wiper. Put it in front of the instrument cluster, set weekly reminders on your phone. Whatever helps you keep track and remind you of the repairs needed, do that.
This rig is your toy, but you shouldn’t treat it like a child’s plaything. It’s what’s going to get you to and from the trail or rock features. If you’re driving it on the road, it’s even more important to make sure it’s in order before and after the ride.
You should also remember that Vicious Off-Road is here to help. We offer the parts you need, the tech you rely on, and the service that can’t be matched in our Ontario, California store. If, like with pre-trip maintenance, you don’t feel up to the task then call or email Vicious and schedule an appointment to bring your pride and joy in. We'll give it the inspection and care it needs with the quality that only we can provide. Just a call to 844-999-9492 will get you in touch with our staff for service, sales, and more!