How to Properly Maintain Your Off-Road Vehicle for Long-Term Use
Your ride isn't over once you head home from the trails and climb out of your rig. You also need to perform some maintenance checks to protect and repair your ride. Here's what to add to your next maintenance checklist.
Check or Replace Your Tires
Tires are often the first that go on your UTV, truck, Jeep or SUV and need to be monitored regularly. Check the tire pressure when you get home and again the next time you head out to ride. Tire pressure can drop when the air inside of it starts to cool and requires maintenance and care before you head into a dangerous situation. Beyond the tire pressure, you should also look for signs of stress on the tire with special attention along the tread lines. Remember to re-torque your beadlocks and lug nuts- check with manufacturer for torque specs.
Get Cleaned Up
A cornerstone of good off-road vehicle maintenance is clean-up. Thoroughly wash and vacuum your UTV, SUV, Jeep or truck, and take a look under your carriage. Keep an eye out for dirt and debris, and gently hose out the engine compartment. A good cleaning protects your vehicle, gives you an opportunity to inspect for damage, and keeps it looking sharp for your next off-roading adventure.
Take a Look At Your Frame
Although off-roading frames are highly durable and reliable, they sometimes need repair or replacement. Just like an engine, your vehicle's frame can also crack along the weld lines and high-stress areas. Check your frame thoroughly to look for increasing wear and tear while cleaning it. Check at each visible weld for cracks in the paint as that is a sign of a shifted frame.
Look Under the Hood
Beyond cleaning, looking under the hood alerts you to engine damage or loose parts that could pose a danger. Check the hoses, belts, and clamps, and look for any leaks or worn-down parts that need replacements before you head out on your next trip.
Tighten Up Your Suspension
An essential part of your off-roading maintenance is your suspension and all its moving pieces. Look underneath your vehicle and look for suspension issues, including components rubbing up against each other. You may find loose nuts, bolts, and a steering box that needs repair.
Look Over Your Vehicle Upgrades
Protect your vehicle upgrades by maintaining and repairing them. Whether you have UTV whips or a LED Light Bar, make sure everything is cleaned up and in working order. In some cases, the integrity of your upgrades will also impact your safety on the road. For example, you may need to repair electrical issues or update a frayed winch cord before heading out.
Get New Shocks (As Needed)
Shock absorbers can last up to a decade but may need replacements every four to five years, depending on how aggressive your off-roading gets. You may also need new shocks if your vehicle is taking a nose dive, bouncing excessively while driving, or swaying in the wind.
Check Your Brakes
When it comes to off-roading, you need more than speed—good-quality brakes are also essential. Maintenance is a critical part of reliable brakes and monitoring whether or not they may be compromised. Your UTV or vehicle's brakes may show signs of failing if their lights are on or you start hearing squealing and squeaking noises. You may also feel some pedal vibration or smell burning when hitting the brakes, indicating they need immediate replacing.
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