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163 Abbotsford Road, Bowen Hills,
Queensland 4006 Australia.
Phone: +61-(0)7-3252-4039
Fax: +61-(0)7-3852-1808
Email: info@motorcare.com.au
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Preventative Maintenance Tips

Keeping Your 4WD Fit

Do you know where aerobics came from and why it became so popular? It started because of some experiments carried out by Dr Kenneth Cooper for the US Air Force in the mid-1960s.

These experiments gave all of us the answer to an age-old question: "How much exercise is enough?"

Cooper was studying pilot fitness at the time and he was the first person to ever work out (in a scientific sense) how much exercise anyone needed to do to stay fit. Then he went on to grade many common exercises and assign them points.

He worked out this if you got 30 points of exercise a week - in any combination of walking, swimming, cycling and so forth - the end result would be that you’d be fit.

This started me thinking about a similar question that often comes up from my customers: "How much 4WD maintenance is enough?"

5 Key Components To Watch

The essence of preventative 4WD maintenance is pretty straightforward: repair things before they fail. Especially critical things where a component failure can leave you stranded miles from nowhere or facing ruinous repair bills.

But the question is: how do you know when something is likely to fail? Especially when it’s not a regular service component?

Start with a thorought visual inspection or a road test by an experienced mechanic can detect faults. Another way is to make use of the experiences of experts. We’ve been repairing 4WD’s for over 25yrs now. So we’re able to anticipate when particular components are likely to cause problems pretty accurately.

The list below isn’t comprehensive, but here are some tips we’ve found about five vital, infrequently looked-at components that I’d like to pass on (and please bear in mind that I’m quoting average time frames. Depending on what you do with your own 4WD, this could go up or down a bit)

Catch Things Early

  • Timing Belts
    Timing belts should normally be changed at 100,000 kms, but if they’ve been contaminated with heavy dirt or oil they can fail earlier - usually with a lot of damage and repair bills running into several thousand dollars. I’d suggest you change them on time or sooner if you suspect contamination.
  • Starter/Alternator
    By about 100,000 kms when these items are taken apart they usually exhibit a fair amount of wear and are not easily repaired by the side of the road - and you certainly won’t be going very far without them! Again, I suggest you have them regulary checked and tested or replaced if contaminated by oil, mud or sand. 
  • Rear Wheel Bearings
    Fully floating axles (the ones with the big hub in the centre) should be repacked at the same time as the fronts, 40,000 kms. You should have them regulary checked for play, noise or contamination. They can also leak diff oil onto the brakes if the seal fails.
  • Winches
    Winches are exposed to all the mud, dust, dirt and water that we throw at them but are used very rarely (unless, of course, you’re an exceptional daredevil or you drive in tremendously rugged terrain!). Because of this an annual strip, clean and lubrication is usually enough to keep them humming.
  • Diesel Fuel Injectors & Filters
    These are certainly not serviceable by the side of the road! You should get them checked and cleaned every 90,000 to 100,000 kms. As fuel is the heart of a diesel engine, drain the water seperator regulary and replace them every 30,000 to 40,000km.

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