ON THE (OFF) ROAD AGAIN!
You’ll know this tune I’m sure! So don’t be shy. Sing, hum, or simply repeat the words noiselessly in your head as you join me in my parody of Willie Nelson’s hit... dedicated – you guessed it – to getting back into the great Kiwi outdoors in our 4x4s!
Off the road again, I just can't wait, to get off the road again! The life I love is goin’ exploring with my friends And I can't wait to get off the road again
Off the road again, goin' places that I've never been Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get off the road again
That’s it in a nutshell. Nice of the WOF peeps to bring it to our notice! Go, go, go folks. Get out there as I’m sure you will. Enjoy the winter and all its surprises, icy roads, gales, thunder and lightning, mud in all its glory, visual spectacles, vistas of snow, ski trails, snow groomers, skatey lakes, wild surf, beaut spots with no-one else there! Don’t forget your camera – winter features spectacular photos!
Right now I’m installing to my tablet Map Toaster, an excellent NZ mapping program (buy local eh?). Laptop is too big (and old!) and GPS screen too small. Tablet should be a better compromise I hope. Will need a bracket though... and before we do anything or go anywhere there’s a postlockdown maintenance checklist to work your way through. To whit:
• How’s your rego?
• How’s your WoF?
• How are ya tyres? May be good deals about if you are quick? • How’s your battery? Has it survived inactivity? Get it on
charge, a good run, or both.
• Check oils, underneath for drips of anything from anywhere. • Radiator level, has it dropped? Antifreeze – is it good for
• Was the truck parked outside? Then it’s probably messy with
bird turd, leaves and possibly even moss!
• How is it inside? It may be damp from condensation, feel the
• Check the spare wheel well or underfloor storage areas for
dampness. Drips and condensation go there.
• Check external lights for water ingress – water in headlights
from the last river crossing? Do they all work?
• Clean the windows. Check any clothing or tools (left inside for
the duration) for dampness.
• Disc brakes may have a light coating of rust, give them a road run but be aware of diminished braking initially. Handbrakes too may not hold as well until discs are shiny again.
After lockdown flashers were much faster turning right. Usually means a dud bulb on that side, this time bulb OK, just needed a twist to reseat it. Another had a sticky throttle cable, needed some CRC. That one may need a new battery too, it’s got a bit lazy on startups!
The Gypsy Rover survived OK, but I was careful to run the motor and use it sometimes for supply trips. I like it to be always ready and available.
If you’ll need tyre chains for the winter you’ll need your tyre size to get the correct set. If you are reluctant to buy new for only occasional use, chains are often available cheaply from garage sales or recycle depots. They seldom have sizing info on them or they may be in an incorrect container.
Use your spare (not a ‘space-saver’) to test for correct size. Or scrounge a used tyre of the correct size and type from a tyre shop for test fitting. A tyre will be slightly fatter when inflated on a rim. Make sure there’s enough adjustment to suit and that they are actually a ‘pair’– lay them out to compare. They do need to be the same on each wheel!
Test fit a chain at home before heading to the mountains. There’s plenty of fitting instructions on the web. As you do, imagine its freezing cold and blowing a horizontal blizzard. Its -10°C with windchill of another -20°C and you can’t just do the downwind side. Practise until you can do it with your eyes shut (‘cos they may be!). It’s been suggested that a spouse should spray you with the garden hose on full blast as you practise...
Main adjustments should be on the outside with nothing loose on the inside that could damage brake pipes or suspension.
Do a drive test on the street. Slowly. After a hundred metres stop and tighten the chain. It should make a tick-tick-tick noise not a flappy thrashy noise. There should be no loose ends to hit the bodywork. Loose chains can cause damage and won’t work well!
Ideally chains should be fitted to all wheels but realistically most people have only one pair. There are different schools of thought on which axle to fit them. General consensus is ‘put
‘em on the front’ regardless of the vehicle’s drive layout. Drive carefully, you are on ice, right?