If you enjoy an outdoor lifestyle, there’s a good chance you own a 4X4 truck or SUV. While these rugged vehicles are designed to be durable, routine servicing is important. Our top mechanics at Triangle Care Care in Raleigh, NC offer a few important 4X4 maintenance tips to keep in mind.
4×4 Maintenance Tips All Drivers Should Follow:
Routine Oil Changes
Regularly changing the oil is a critical aspect of 4X4 maintenance. Oftentimes, the motor oil often needs to be changed more frequently than usual. This is especially true for Raleigh 4X4 owners who use their vehicle for towing or traveling off-road. As you are driving in lower gears, extra stress can be placed upon the drivetrain.
When oil changes are neglected, the engine could experience premature wear and tear. Performance and fuel economy will also begin to suffer.
Change the Engine Air Filter
Although the engine air filter is a simple part, it has a big impact on performance. If you fail to change the engine air filter on time, expect to notice a big difference in how your 4X4 accelerates and climbs hills. Dirt and grime can accumulate quickly when traveling on rural trails. This is why the engine air filter needs to be inspected regularly.
Many aftermarket companies promote reusable cotton gauze filters. While these filters may slightly boost performance by enhancing airflow, they can allow more contaminants to get inside the engine. The best approach is to install a genuine OEM replacement filter.
Maintain the Proper Wheel Alignment
Most automakers recommend car owners to get their wheel alignment checked every year. However, folks who drive a 4X4 may need to have the wheel alignment checked more often. This is especially true if you routinely travel over rough terrain. Ruts and large bumps can easily cause misalignment.
When a vehicle is in need of a wheel alignment, it typically becomes more difficult to steer in a straight line. You may also notice irregular tire wear patterns. Remember, the cost of a new set of off-road tires is far more expensive than a wheel alignment.
Wash Your 4×4 Vehicle
After spending a day driving through the rural backcountry, it’s perfectly normal for a 4X4 vehicle to get dirty. However, make it a point to wash your vehicle as soon as possible. Mud exposes the undercarriage to excess moisture, which clings to the various metal parts. Corrosion is then more likely to occur.
It doesn’t take much effort to rinse away mud using a pressure washer. However, you may need to pre-soak heavy buildup with a concentrated car wash. Be sure to focus on all the little nooks and crannies.
Have the Transmission Serviced
Far too many 4X4 owners fail to get their transmission serviced at the recommended intervals. This often leads to serious drivability issues, including rough shifting and slipping.
The transmission fluid and filter to be changed every 30,000 – 60,000 miles. It’s only a matter of time before old, dirty transmission fluid begins to cause problems. Also, don’t forget to have the transfer case fluid changed according to the automaker’s guidelines.
Brake System Inspection
In terms of safety, brakes are arguably the most important features on a 4X4 vehicle. Whether your creeping down an off-road trail or avoiding a deer crossing the street, you must be able to stop quickly.
Never ignore any strange noises coming from your brakes. A high-pitched squealing sound typically indicates your brake pads are low. It’s also important to periodically change the brake fluid, which gradually begins to break down over time.