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5 SIMPLE FIXES FOR COMMON BREAKDOWNS

Sh!t happens when you go four-wheel driving, something I used to tell customers quite often when I sat behind the front counter of a few four-wheel drive stores in my past life. It’s the nature of the beast when battling with rocks, mud and sand, your vehicle can and will come off second best. But there is no reason why some logical thinking can’t have you one-upping what Mother Nature throws at you. Here are some of the tips and tricks we have learnt over the years of four-wheel driving, gained from experience and just talking to people who have been there and done that.

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BUSH WELDING
If you have two batteries, you have a welder. Well sort of, you need a few more things:
A set of jumper leads
Some spare thick cable
Vice grips (to hold the cable on the battery terminals)
Arc welding rods
Wire to hold the welding rods
Welding mask (or glass from a welding mask)

 

FLAT STARTING BATTERY
Most four-wheel drives will have dual batteries, and automatic transmissions these days. What on earth does that have to do with anything I hear you ask? Well, the option of clutch-starting vehicle with a flat battery isn’t there thanks to the auto cog-swapper, but your dual battery system can help you out of this bind. So the starting battery is flat, but your auxiliary battery is in decent shape? Simply connect the two batteries together
(+ to + and – to -) using a set of good quality surge and spike protected jumper leads. This will equalise the batteries, and if all goes well your engine will fire up. But you need to ascertain the reason why the battery went flat in the first place; hopefully it was just an interior light left on or something simple and you’re back on your way. Ensure all earth straps are secured, and if you have a multimeter check to see if the vehicle’s alternator is in fact charging.

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FLAT TYRES
Tyre technology has come a very long way, and as a benefit we are seeing less and less punctures occurring. But don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security, there are plenty of sharp objects out there with a grudge against your rubber. A basic tyre repair kit will pay for itself time and time again, as will the knowledge of how to use the kit and a good tyre compressor. But just remember this is a temporary repair, one that will need to be professionally inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

Here is how you ‘git er done’:

1 Find the puncture and remove any offending objects like sticks or nails/screws.

2 Read the instructions provided with the kit.

3 Use the reaming tool to well, you know… ream the puncture.

4 Prepare the tyre plug insertion tool by pulling the tyre plug through the eyelet with a set of pliers (them plugs are sticky after all) then apply lube to point of the tool.

5 Push down firmly into the puncture until only a few centimetres of plug is visible, then remove the insertion tool and trim off excess tyre plug leaving a few millimetres proud.

 

BUSTED COOLING SYSTEMS
A split or leaky radiator or heater hose, can spell the end of your trip and engine pretty darn quickly. This is why carrying a roll of self-amalgamating tape (like Rescue Tape) to repair the busted hose is a clever idea. This stuff bonds to itself, forming a nice thick layer of protective goodness and actually has a fair few other uses (they claim you can even make an emergency fan belt out of it if required). The other trick you hear of is cracking an egg into the radiator and a bit of pepper to seal the hole. While this sounds delicious, and some people swear by it I’ve not had any luck here. However, when an engine fan decided to eat my radiator, I managed to drive 100km home after dumping a few bottles of radiator stop leak into the radiator, so can vouch for the effectiveness of this product in a short term application.

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ELECTRICAL GREMLINS
Modern vehicles have more electronic components than my old Patrol has rust… lots! Don’t bury your head in the sand by writing them off as too hard to work on though, face the problem head on! A basic diagnostics tool which can be purchased from even mainstream auto parts stores will help identify any engine check lights that show up, as well as clear faults that aren’t imminently threatening to the vehicle to get you rolling. Another point worth mentioning is if a vital fuse has blown (like the fuel pump for example), swap it out for something that will fit like the horn or headlight fuse. Then head back to the same auto parts store, and buy spares of all required fuses so this never happens again.

 

STAFF TIPS

EV’S TAILSHAFT WOES
“I had an old HiLux that if I’m being honest, was driven far harder than it should have been. It had an identity crisis, part rock-crawler part tourer. Problem being, I kept smashing tailshafts when driving on rocks. The solution to get home? Drop the rear trailshaft from the vehicle, lock the hubs and limp home in front wheel drive. This should work if you have busted a rear diff too. The long-term solution was to A) stop trying to drive things I couldn’t walk and B) upgrade the shaft to a stronger custom unit”.

 

DEX’S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION
“Not that I really enjoy driving in mud, but some places (like the Vic High Country) the stuff is unavoidable. If you have ever heard a worrying grinding or high pitch ‘cry’ after mud driving, chances are you have done a universal joint. I always carry a spare, as they are small and cheap. If a trackside repair is required, grab your versatile high lift jack, two sockets (one smaller then the uni cup and one bigger to let it slide into the socket) and by wedging the shaft under a bull bar or tow bar then raising the jack, you will press the old part out in no time”.

Words By Evan Spence

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