Many of your 4WD accessories and equipment are expensive acquisitions and you need to maintain them to maximise performance and keep the items doing what you purchased them to do, for as long as possible. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting one of everything and buy what your mate has, blindly following what everyone else does.
Patterns tend to emerge in clubs or groups that regularly get together for their off-road adventures. Regular discussions regarding the benefits of one brand over another, or the cost of X versus Y and group opinions can be persuasive and expensive.If you are a member of a club or 4WD group, it often means that the whole group eventually carries all the same gear, blindly following the pack.
We at ECB make every effort to ensure our vehicles are fitted with quality products and support Australian made where possible. A small added expense in the initial purchase can make all the difference to your outings and avoid even larger expenses down the track. It may also ensure you have local support and service if needed. What is the warranty of the product you are purchasing? Does it have a good reputation for coping with Australian conditions?
Big companies employ and deploy expensive marketing campaigns, that often work, and many aftermarket 4WD sales staff will happily fill your boot with an abundance of off-road paraphernalia, to make you dig deep into those tattered pockets. Winches, spotlights, recovery gear, snorkels, bullbars, diff breathers, tyres, suspension, lift kits, high lift jacks and much more. Do you really need it?
Whatever you decide to purchase, remember to take care of your expensive equipment. When was the last time you looked at your winch, or even used it? When was the last time you used a hi-rise jack to pick through rock all day or needed recovery from soft sandy beaches or river beds? Have you ever fought the impenetrable mud and swollen rivers in the wet season, or want to? Making sure your accessories and gear works when you need it is not really that hard.
Many of these items you are able to successfully maintain yourself with a little knowhow and effort, though many prefer to have 4WD service professionals do it for them. Either way it could mean all the difference to the enjoyment of your next 4WD adventure or being stuck in the mud, in more ways than one.
So where do we start?
Most of us only clean or attend to our bars when we clean the car, but there are some things you need to check. ECB offers a lifetime warranty on our bars, but maintenance still needs to be a priority, and you want it looking great for the life of the vehicle.
Using a quality polish on your polished alloy bullbar will ensure it retains the stunning finish and protects it from the elements, salt and road grime. Powder-coat finishes also need to be cleaned. Don’t forget to check over and under your bar and mountings for damage, particularly if you have had an impact, of any kind.
Make sure your aerial mountings, indicators and fog lights, surrounds and mounts are undamaged, secure and in good working order. Check underneath, steel mounts and bolts should be free of rust and corrosion, you may need to take steps to prevent this if you regularly drive on or near the beaches. Once rust starts you will never completely rid your vehicle of it, but there are numerous products that may assist and slow the process. Ensure you use a product that doesn’t stay sticky, attracting sand and road grime.
Upon initial installation, make sure the rope is wound tightly, under strain, onto the drum. If this is done properly, you won’t encounter loose spools when you use the winch to haul yourself out of trouble. If not wound tightly you will risk damaging the rope and reduce the pulling power of your winch.
After each of your adventures, or at least every three months, flick the clutch and unwind the rope from your winch, give the rope and the winch a thorough rinse with your hose. Clean dirt and salt thoroughly from inside the winch and check the drainage hole on the electric motor, we don’t want it getting clogged up. Allow your rope to dry a bit before winding it back on, but remember the sun can degrade a synthetic rope so don’t leave it stretched out in the sun for too long, it’s not a lizard.
Although metal cable may be stronger and require less maintenance, it is much heavier and can be more difficult to use. Check your moving parts are greased when needed to keep them running smoothly, but NEVER grease your cable, it attracts dirt and grime.
After each clean, make sure that the rope is wound back on evenly and under strain. Even the best and properly maintained rope or cable doesn’t last forever, so pay attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations on life expectancy, check them regularly and replace when needed, don’t wait until it’s too late.
Don’t even consider a water crossing without one.
There are 2 main types of snorkel, Ram Snorkel or a Vortex Snorkel, both are designed to achieve similar results, but they do so in different ways. Either way, they send clean, moisture free air into the air intake or engine, so they need to be cleaned.
Is your snorkel watertight? Some fittings are just pushed into each other and may still leak water, check that it is air tight, from the air box all the way through the inner guard to the snorkel. A snorkel is a preventative measure, treat water crossings with the respect and you won’t have an issue.
The filter box will have a light flap in the bottom, this lets the water out that goes down the snorkel but also stops water coming in during crossings. When your vehicle is serviced it should be inspected and cleaned with the air cleaner as it can get built up with dust, but do inspect it and clean it yourself as it can often be overlooked.
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