This week, we’re going to share some car maintenance advice. Despite the fact that each Expedition Overland vehicle is unique, we utilize some universal checks and balances on a regular basis to guarantee that our fleet is safe and performing at its best. These pointers may appear basic at first, but they’re crucial to know if you’re new to overlanding.

As an overlander, it’s critical to discuss and communicate about your vehicle appropriately. Investigating and utilizing your five senses to inspect your car on a regular basis is one of the finest methods to achieve this. This can be accomplished by gathering vehicle data, monitoring vehicle angles, and performing routine checks. We’ll get into the specifics further on.

We take better care of the maintenance of our cars than we take care of the maintenance of our bodies

– David H. Murdock –

COMPILE VEHICLE INFORMATION

Take out the Owner’s Manual first! It is a priceless resource. Create a document or spreadsheet that contains the information shown below. The majority of these details may be found in your Owner’s Manual. This list will not only help you become more familiar with your car, but it will also come in handy when ordering components, discussing your vehicle, or chatting with a technician.

  • Oil type and quantity
  • Oil filter and part number
  • Air filter and part number
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): this is your vehicle’s curb weight plus payload (also found inside the driver door)
  • Stock wheel size, tire size and recommended tire pressure

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The ground clearance of your car is something you should be aware of. To calculate this, take a measurement from the vehicle’s lowest point to the ground. Make a note of the kind of suspension on your car if it has been modified: Is it possible to have independent front suspension (IFS)? What are leaf springs? Is the front axle solid? Coilovers? Are you aware of where to get radiator and transmission fluids, as well as how to check the oil? If not, consult your Owner’s Manual for further information. It’s also crucial to have a feel for your vehicle’s reaction time. This not only informs you if your brakes are in good working order, but also how quickly they respond in an emergency. I’ve treated the waistcoat as if it were a corset, so that it becomes the first layer in the process of putting clothes on the body. There is constant motion between layering and revealing.

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It’s more important to learn how your car reacts NOW than when an elk leaps across the road in front of you. Take your car for a spin to do this. Before you go, make sure your car is entirely empty – no water bottles, tools, or lunch bags, for example. Drive to a safe place where there will be no traffic. You must carry out this activity at your own risk. Accelerate at 60 mph, then slam the brakes hard — to full lock up – using your stopwatch or counting in your brain (as you would if something ran out onto the road and you had to stop suddenly). Keep track of how long it took the car to respond. Are your brakes in good operating order? Is the anti-lock brake system (ABS) in good working order? On both dry and wet pavement, give it a shot. This drill sharpens your emergency reaction time and provides you a sense of how your car behaves. Of course, do it at your own risk in a safe, traffic-free place.

OBSERVE YOUR VEHICLE ANGLES: APPROACH, BREAK-OVER AND DEPARTURE

The capacity of a vehicle to overcome difficulties in an off-road setting is shown by its vehicle angles. Approach, brake-over, and departure are the three sorts of vehicle angles. The angle between the front tires and the lowest section of the vehicle’s body at the front of the vehicle is known as the approach angle. The highest slope your car can climb without scratching the front bumper is represented by this angle. The angle between the lowest section of your vehicle and the bottom of both the front and rear tires is known as the break-over angle. The break-over angle shows how steep of a hill a vehicle can drive over without damaging its underside. The angle formed by the bottom of your rear tire and the lowest section of the vehicle’s body to the rear. This is the steepest descent your vehicle can make without scratching the back bumper. Keeping these angles in mind when facing off-road hazards is a smart approach to avoid vehicle damage.

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INSPECT YOUR VEHICLE REGULARLY

We at Expedition Overland handle our cars the same way a skilled pilot would care for his or her plane by doing routine pre-‘flight’ checks. We’ve identified a number of little concerns that may turn into significant ones just by being proactive. Regular daily, weekly, and monthly vehicle check ups will become instinctive in no time if you are ready to be consistent. Inspections are out on a daily basis Every time you approach the driver’s seat, do a walk-around examination. While giving your car a once-over, keep the following points in mind.

  • Approach from the side, keeping an eye on the vehicle’s underbelly. Do you see any drippings? If that’s the case, figure out what’s causing it and correct it. 
  • Take a look at the wheels and the paint. Look for oil splotches on the paint’s surface. Oil droplets are split up into particles by the wind and finally hit your rear tailgate. These splotches are a sure clue that you’ve been soaking while driving. 
  • Keep an eye on your CV boots. This flexible rubber boot, especially on a lifted vehicle, is a typical place for breakdown at any moment.

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Turn off the music on your first drive of the day and listen to the noises of your car for the first mile. In reverse, does everything feel and sound right? Are you driving? Do you hear anything new? Is there any rattling? If this is the case, make a note of the discrepancies. “Your car talks to you; you just have to listen,” Clay’s grandfather reportedly said. Watch “Oh Hey There!” for more information on this topic. Jeff takes you on a vehicle maintenance tour.

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Weekly Inspection These items are best checked on a weekly basis.

  • Remove the hood! By wiggling, touching, and watching a cool engine, we adopt a hands-on approach. These preventative procedures will deal with potential failure spots before they become a problem. 
  • Blow on your air filter or gently smack it on the ground to clean it. Make sure it’s securely replaced. 
  • Make sure the fluid levels are correct. Have you filled up your windshield washer, radiator, and transmission fluids? When checking the fluid levels in an automatic transmission, keep in mind that the engine must be running. 
  • Examine the hoses and clamps. Examine the clamps for stiffness, cracks, fatigued regions, and missing clamps. Are the hoses properly routed in their clips? 
  • Examine the connections to the main battery. Examine the battery terminals for tightness and corrosion. Vibrations might cause internal battery breakdown over time. 
  • In order to discover a faulty alignment sooner rather than later, keep an eye out for uneven tire wear. This happens a lot more on the front tires. If you have a dedicated off-road vehicle that isn’t your daily driver, check this once a month. 
  • Look at those lug nuts! A nut will loosen before it fails. If you’re on a long-term overland trip, they are important to check on a daily basis to avoid a catastrophic tragedy.

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Monthly Inspection These items are best checked on a monthly basis.

  • Shake each tire at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions back and forth. Bad tie rod ends, steering components, or weak connections might cause strange movement or clunking sounds. 
  • Take each tire’s top and shake it back and forth. A knocking sound could indicate a damaged wheel bearing or a bad ball joint. 
  • Examine the area beneath your vehicle by physically crawling below it. Things should be shaken. Are the brackets all right? Is there any rubber that has cracked or split? Are there any missing bolts? Is there anything that appears to be bent? Is there any muck that shouldn’t be there? Is there any grass that could catch fire if it gets wet? Is your skid plate clean on top if you have one? 
  • Examine the wiring. Are there any hot, dry, or fractured wires?

Once a month, it’s also a good idea to go over all of your systems thoroughly. All lights, pumps, and heater systems, as well as any factory or air lockers (for a mile or two per month) and your winch, are included. Turn on 4WD and 4lo. Testing these systems not only maintains everything lubricated and running well, but it also makes it much safer to deal with problems in advance.

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