design - Land Rover section


Land Rover - Things to do: After the trip to keep your car healthy


You have just returned form a successful off road trip with everything intact. You have unloaded your gear and cleaned out your car. Are you done? Not if you want to keep your car in good working condition.

While you have been having fun, your car has been working hard in harsh environments. You checked over your car before you left. You should go over it again right after you get back.

Here is the basic after trip checklist that I use:


Clean frame and bulkhead

A pressure washer is a good tool to own. One of the best things you can do to preserve your frame is to pressure wash the underside of your car right after you return from a major off road trip.

Dirt and mud buildup on top of the frame and in cranny's along outriggers creating conditions for rust. The top rear cross member is particularly vulnerable.

Pressure washing your frame to clean off dirt and salts will add many years of life to your frame. Make sure that you get the underside and front of your bulkhead, especially around the pedal boxes and other places where mud and dirt can get trapped.

Back to the checklist


Inspect and grease all fittings

Grease all your fittings, even if you greased them just before you went on the trip. Water from wading and pressure washing gets into tie rod ends and universal joints where it causes rapid wear of moving parts.

Ideally you should carry a grease gun on the trail and grease all the fittings as soon as practical after a water crossing.

Back to the checklist


Clean swivel balls and seals

Clean the swivel balls and the outside edges of the swivel ball seals. Rust pits ruin swivel balls. Sharp grit particles ruin seals. If you have leather gaiters, the openings should be facing down so that water can drip out. Check to make sure that they are not retaining water. Sometimes they trap water and create conditions for rapid rusting of the balls.

Back to the checklist


Check for water in gear oil and top off reservoirs

If your car waded through water you should check to see if you got any water into the gear oil reservoirs. Open the drain plug to see if contaminated oil comes out, then top off the fluid if it looks OK. If you were on a long hard trip, you just might consider renewing the gear oil anyway.

Back to the checklist


Check for water in brake wheel cylinders

If you have been doing extended wading, water has probably entered into your brake wheel cylinders. It can get into the space between the rubber boot and the piston. Once there it will cause oxidation of the piston and the cylinder walls causing rapid wear. If you have an after market ferrous metal brake cylinder and park the car for a week or more, the piston can rust tight to the cylinder wall keeping it from working (been there and done that).

So if you have been doing extended wading, it wouldn't hurt to pull the drums and lift the dust covers to inspect for water in the cylinders and particles that may have worked their way in behind the drums. It never hurts to inspect lining wear and adjust the brakes anyway. Don't forget to put a spot of anti-seize on the flat head screws that hold the drum in place.

Back to the checklist


Check rear axles for stress

If you have the standard Land Rover rear axles, remove them for inspection. Most axles do not break on the trail. They get stressed on the trail and break on pavement as you are pulling out from a stop or turning a corner.

Look for signs of twisting at the inside edge of the axle splines. If there is any indication that this area is not perfect replace them right away. Go without if you do not have a new set ready to reinstall. If one axle shows sign of distress they are probably both crystallized and near breaking. It is a lot easier to replace a stressed axle than to remove a differential to force out a stuck axle stub.

Back to the checklist


Check engine and transmission mounts

If you have completed serious off roading, you have stressed your engine and transmission mounts. While you may not need to replace a broken mount right away, you will before you do any additional off roading. Take a jack and apply some upward pressure under the engine then examine both front mounts for separation or cracks. Do the same for the transmission. If one or two look bad, order replacements. If one or more are broken, replace all of them. The others have had to take up the stress normally handled by the broken mount. I prefer using the diesel engine mounts because they are stronger than the petrol mounts.

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Clean air filter

If you have been on dry dirt, clean your air filter. An oil bath can collect an amazing about of dirt in a short time.

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Visually inspect frame & undercarriage. Check fasteners for tightness

After you have cleaned off the frame, crawl under the car with a good work light and a set of wrenches to inspect the underside and make sure that fasteners are tight.

  • Go over the frame carefully to look for new cracks.
  • Go through the undercarriage and check tightness of such things as 'U' bolts (60-70 ft. lbs), shocks, steering box, exhaust system mounts and prop shafts.
  • If you have the old style axle breathers, remove then and give them a good cleaning. If you have the new ones, make sure that the tubes are not clogged.

Back to the checklist

A complete after trip inspection may take most of a day but your car will stay in better condition, parts will last longer and your breakdowns will be less frequent.

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