At your service
Professional servicing at regular mileage or use intervals is the key to a long and hopefully troublefree life of 4WD ownership. Like everything, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so as an active owner you also have a role to play. To whit: Read your vehicle’s manual from front to back. There will be stuff in there you thought you knew (but didn’t) as well as stuff that could save your wallet or even your life. Think of it as your first line of defence. Go online and see if you can find a Haynes (or similar) service manual for your vehicle either direct from the publisher or from Trade Me, Amazon or eBay. It’s harder for us with all the Jap imports available here but if you can find one it will provide you with hours of ‘gee, I didn’t know that’ enjoyment, whether or not you ever pick up a spanner. The same goes for online tutorials. You have to wade through a lot of rubbish to find the good ones but I’m certainly not too proud to admit to using them. Then there are the‘ For Dummies’ and ‘Complete Idiots Guides to… ’texts which are another great source of general information. Regularly conduct visual and ‘spanner’ checks over your 4WD. You will be amazed how often you will find a loose-ish wheel nut, blown light bulb, or tyre that while not flat has magically lost up to 10 psi of pressure. Speaking of bulbs, buy a twin pack when you go to replace one and store the other/s in bubblewrap in the glove box or centre console. As well as your eye, run your hand over each tyre, taking the time to pull out and throw away any little stones stuck in the grooves. You never know when you’ll find a screw buried in a tread block meaning a quick trip to your tyre shop to have it removed... and a tubeless plug added if it has gone right through the casing. Always check your spare tyre (for condition and pressure) at the same time. Most of us can think of a time when someone needed to use their spare only to find it flat, or perished and flat within a few kms of it being pressed into service. On the subject of checking, if you don’t already know ask the guys you bought your tyres from for recommended road (and off-road) pressures. Some are now over 50psi! Wheel bearings are often neglected until too late so because we regularly use our 4WDs off-road, in mud and/ or dust and often under water it is a good idea to schedule a visual/wriggle check if – for instance – it is time to replace your disc brake rotors or the shoes in your drum brakes. Check your engine oil and coolant levels weekly and your transmission fluid level every 5000kms or so. I always do an engine oil and filter change every 5000kms and radiator flush/coolant change every 12 months. Transfer cases are still a black hole to me so I leave checking the Terrano’s to my mechanic! I also leave diff checking and maintenance to my diff guy... who I tend to see more than most thanks to my drift addiction! But that shouldn’t mean you don’t have a go yourself if you feel capable. Finally, if you do have any sort of incident off the road be doubly vigilant in your checking afterwards. You never know, a rub here, a click there or a misalignment, if not caught and sorted early could lead to twice as much drama, and with it cost, down the line!