How to Assess Your 4×4 in the Outback
1. General vehicle functions
Ensure that your general vehicle functions are working properly. This covers a wide range of checks: seat belts, all lights, brakes, internal accessories, windows and doors and the placement of emergency items like your first-aid kit.
Check that all cargo inside your vehicle is properly packed away and secured, which includes gear behind a cargo barrier, items in the back seat and even overhead consoles.
3. Under the hood
Pop the hood and ensure your engine looks as it should, and that fluid levels – including engine oil, brake, clutch and power steering fluid – are within normal ranges. This is also an opportune time to check, clean or even replace your air filter. Outback dust can quickly build-up in your air filter, which makes checking it habitually an important part of your daily routine.
4. External accessories
Walk around the car and check all of your vehicle’s external accessories: lights, aerials, bull bar, rear bar or anything else mounted on the outside of your rig.
Check your 4WD’s tyre pressures, both to double-check levels before you start travelling and to look out for discrepancies in poundage. Examine each tyre’s side walls and tread to be aware of any new wear and tear, and to keep track of any undue or uneven wear. While doing this, remember to check each wheel hub, keeping an eye out for cracks.
6. Underbody check
Get down low and do a visual check of your 4×4’s underbody. You might notice debris like sticks that need to be removed, however the main purpose of doing this check is to get familiar with what the underbody of your vehicle looks like. Once you are, any changes will become easier to notice during your daily check. Things to look out for include loose components, caked dust or wet patches, which can indicate leaks in crucial vehicle components. While down there, make sure you check your 4WD’s shocks, bushes and springs for any wear or damage.
Doing a check like this daily is incredibly useful and highly recommended when you’re on a trip in the Outback; it has the benefit of familiarising you with your vehicle, while also giving you the best opportunity to spot trouble before it arrives and diagnose problems quickly. Considering the testing conditions and remote nature of Australia’s Outback, doing a daily vehicle check on your next trip might just save you when you least expect it.