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To determine whether your 4×4 vehicle is trail-ready and capable of surviving a trip off-road, first and foremost, you’ll want to do a visual inspection — both inside and out.
Then, you should do a more thorough check of each of the main parts of your 4×4 vehicle.
Here’s what to look for…
Closely inspect the inner workings of your vehicle and make sure that the following parts are in good working condition and you don’t hear any strange noises coming from these areas:
- Axles & Differentials – hubs, seals, vacuum lines, shift motors, vent lines, front u-joints
- Battery – clean terminals, check for damaged or corroded wiring
- Brakes – drums, rotors, pads/shoes, fluid, hoses, leaks, check your emergency brake, brake lights
- Belts & Hoses – look for cracks or bulges
- Body & Frame – look for cracks
- Cooling/Heating System – look for leaks, fluid levels, clean and repair fins, check hoses, thermostat, radiator cap
- Driveline/Transmission – inspect case and shifter, leaks, fluids, universal & cv joints, skid plates
- Engine – carburetor, fuel injectors, spark plugs, wires, pcv valve, pumps, spark plugs, distributor & wires, belts; check for leaks and cracks
- Exhaust – muffler, tailpipe
- Fluids – oil, transmission, brake, radiator coolant, gear oils, wipers, power steering
- Lights – headlights, brake lights, auxiliary lights; make sure they’re aimed properly
- Nuts & Bolts – tighten axle u-bolts, lug bolts, nuts
- Steering – check alignment, fluid level, belts and hoses, pump and reservoir for leaks
- Suspension – springs, shocks, alignment, wheel bearings, steering linkage
- Tires – tighten lug nuts, air pressure, tread wear (including your full-size spare), look for cuts and missing chunks
- Wipers – check for wear, washer fluid level
Lastly, make sure you know the vehicle requirements for the places where you’ll be driving.
You really need to have some lift on your vehicle in order to ride there.
Since we’ve been married, my husband and I have owned 5 Jeeps (3 Wranglers and 2 Grand Cherokees). And when we’re not driving our own Jeep, we’re usually renting one (a 4×4 Wrangler on vacation). We keep a Jeep Bucket List of places that we’d like to go next, and we're always crossing more states off our list of 'Places That We’ve Jeeped in the USA'. As our daily driver, we keep the soft top on our Jeep Wrangler year round (and the back window permanently rolled up) so the dogs can enjoy the ride. Yep… even in the winter! I've been sharing my best Jeep ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998. When I’m not Jeeping or writing about Jeeps, you'll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).