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The Touring 4X4 Checklist: 7 Tips to not forget.

Touring 4X4 Checklist - Recovery Kits to maps.
Touring 4X4 Checklist - Recovery Kits to maps.

The time is coming closer, and you’re getting nervous and excited about your big trip. There’s so much to do, and you’re worried you’re going to forget something. Fear not, here is a touring 4X4 checklist for you, which will help jog your memory.

Check your moving parts.

Simple checks of your basic mechanical parts before you head off can go a long way. Closely eyeball your belts, universal joints, fans and hoses, because a stitch in time can really save nine. What I like to do is order a box of spares before a big trip, replace some of the common things like belts and hoses, and then use the old gear as spares. At least you know they fit, and are good to get you out of trouble.

Give your 4X4 a good service.

Yes, yes, oil and filter. That’s what you need for when you’re only scooting around the block. 4X4s need more than that, especially when you’re dependent on it working in remote areas. Get a more thorough check, including:

• Battery and alternator health
• What kind of condition your hydraulic fluid is in.
• Pressure-testing your cooling system
• Removing wheels and inspecting your brakes, swivels and bearings for wear.

Perhaps the most important part of your touring 4X4 preparation is mechanical. Do it yourself if you have the time, skills, tools and inclination, otherwise, get a good mechanic to sort it out.
Perhaps the most important part of your touring 4X4 preparation is mechanical. Do it yourself if you have the time, skills, tools and inclination, otherwise, get a good mechanic to sort it out.

If you’re not confident or clued up enough to do this yourself, enlist the work of a good 4X4 workshop to do it. Look for someone with 4X4 experience, and if they specialise in your make and model, even better! Personally, I use All Four X 4 for my work, because they know 4X4 and Land Rovers quite well, and I trust their work.

What about your tools and spares?

Any 4WDer worth their salt with have a good little kit of tools and spares with them. No, I’m not saying take a full-blown workshop setup with you, and tow a spare parts car, but have the stuff to sort out common problems, so you can be self-dependent. Here is a list of things that, if anything, might help you sleep at night on remote journeys.

»»Spare shock absorbers & bushes
»»Spare coolant concentrate
»»Spare lubricants
»»Brake fluid
»»Gasket goo
»»Inox/WD40 spray
»»Spare fuses, relays and wiring to suit vehicle
»»1 (or 2) Full-sized spare (in good condition!)
»»Universal joints
»»Good tool kit to suit Vehicle
»»Tie wire/Fencing wire
»»Rescue Tape
»»Metal epoxy
»»Nuts, bolts etc.
»»Radiator stop leak

In my 4X4, I have a ‘box of tricks’ that stays with the car, which has all of this sort of thing in it. Combined with a tool roll and socket set, I’m in pretty good stead for most things.

  • Got any other suggestions for this list? Let us know in the comments below.

Check your accessories

Those things that you maybe haven’t used in a while, but are probably going to depend upon at some stage, should get a bit of attention as well. My first one is the electric winch, because when you need it, you need it. It’s a good excuse to re-spool your rope on tidily, which will blow the cobwebs out of the winch (and ensure it still works). Do the same with your fridge, UHF radio, air compressor and auxiliary power system are going well, and any other bolt-on mods you’ll need. If you’ve got a battery charger, give that a bit of work before you go away.

4X4 Confucious says: Winch only works when you don't need it. Kick confucious in the nuts, by checking your winch before you go.
4X4 Confucious says: Winch only works when you don’t need it. Kick Confucius in the nuts, by checking your winch before you go.

Packing up

My advice here is to plan your pack, in a couple of senses. Experience tells me that how rushed you are packing correlates clearly with how much stuff you forget. Try to avoid the last-second pack by doing it early, taking your time and trying to be methodical. If you have a master list to check off, all the better.

Also, plan where you’re going to pack things. Put your heavy things as low and central as possible, and also think about keeping your often-used gear easily accessible. This will help keep the stress down while you’re on your journey.

Touring 4X4 Checklist Tip: get your storage organised nice and early, unlike me.
Touring 4X4 Checklist Tip: get your storage organised nice and early, unlike me.

Routes and mapping

You need to know where you’re going, that’s pretty obvious. Whether it’s Google Maps, a Hema navigator or paper maps, ensure your maps are packed, working and easy to access. Try to get familiar with the area you’re travelling to, as well, and double check your electric stuff also has a charger!

When you’re travelling remotely, it pays to call ahead to the places you’ll be needing fuel and checking that they are 1: open and 2: have fuel. They might not, and it could leave your stranded.

Touring 4X4 Checklist Tip: Mapping is very important, and we recommend keep some paper maps as backup, in case things go south.
Touring 4X4 Checklist Tip: Mapping is very important, and we recommend keep some paper maps as backup, in case things go south.

Check for road closures along your route as well. Have a few alternative routes up your sleeve, and try to keep as up-to-date with weather and road conditions to where you’re travelling. Normally, local councils can get you all of the important information.

Water is another consideration. It’s not available everywhere, so you’ll need to have enough storage for your own water, and also a hose to collect it. Plan out where you can resupply, and organise storage. Bore water might be the only option where you’re travelling; if you don’t like the taste, pack some cordial to make it a bit less chewy.

Emergency stuff

An essential part of your touring 4X4 checklist is the First Aid Kit. Is it packed? how old is it? Have you been using it lately, and does it need a top-up?

Also, think about your recovery kit. Is anything missing, or does this trip you’re planning need some extra gear? If your snatch strap is looking a bit worn, it’s probably worth replacing as well, right? Here is what my base recovery kit looks like, before adding in other trip-specific gear.

Touring 4X4 Recovery Kit - A very important part of the checklist is ensuring your recovery kit is in order.
Touring 4X4 Recovery Kit – A very important part of the checklist is ensuring your recovery kit is in order.

Emergency communications are also vitally important. Check that the batteries are full, you have spare replacement batteries or chargers at the ready. Some emergency communication gear needs some kind of subscription as well, so check that yours is up to date with credit and power.

Finally, check your 4X4 insurance policy. Check with your insurer that your vehicle and contents are insured, including all of your accessories and gear. Many don’t, and are flat out knowing what a locker or rear bar is. Personally, I use Club 4X4. It’s also worth asking whether you’re covered for off-road driving, and if they have any helpful extras like recovery and repairs cover, in case the you-know-what hits the fan.


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  • its great to have a great tool kit , first aid kit , and gadgets to do all sorts of other wonderfull things , but you realy need the know how to do these things , and with all the technical wizardry on trucks these days , the days of fixing your fourby are numberd , and the racv wont step off the tarmac to help .

  • A lot of late model vehicles run a ‘serpentine’ belt which means one engine belt runs everything, and a stray stone or tree debris and mud and sand over time could take it out, and have you stranded for something simple. Also very common is idler pulley failure associated with it.
    Usually not expensive to have spares with you, I keep a belt and the two pulleys for my 2003 Disco which cost less than $200. Cheap insurance for us when you’re out past Opalton Qld ?

  • Mal, a scantool to reset error codes, carry it in the glovebox. Necessary to stop it going into the limp home mode and using twice as much fuel.

  • A small trailer to store all the ‘necessities’!

    Joking, yes. But, there has to be a limit (weight and space). and so for me it’s about essentials not ‘just in case’.

  • Some good advice here, thanks. I cringed though at the fellow squatting next to the winch cable!! If it snaps he could easily be a dead man.

    • Hey Trevor, the winch cable isn’t under big load or anywhere near it’s breaking strain. The picture is of me from guiding the cable back onto the drum, under tension of the vehicle.

  • @Mick LOL, ear plugs that’s classic.
    I also take engine scan software, at least I figure it will give me an hour of peace gazing at the lap top while I try to work out a plan.

  • HF radio on one of the networks. Advantage oversat phone is that they will supply weather and road data on request. When it trouble who do you call on a sat phone? HF radio network may have a subscriber over the next sand dune who can give you a hand!

  • Shovel, large and small, Tommy axe,back pack over spare wheel to hold all your rubbish ..just a few that I can think OK as we are now packing up a camper trailer to travel across to Canberra then up the east coast to Cape York

  • Very good list and helpful hints from steve about the radiator hoses.
    I know the list on tools and spares can be endless and everybody has
    different items on their list from different experiences.
    Here are some Items I like to take and leave in my 4×4 on small and
    large trips: Headlamp or torch with batteries
    12v test light is very handy
    Spare globes for headlights/tailights, spotlights
    Electrical connections and crimper and spare wire
    Rags, gloves for dealing with a hot engine/gbox or exhaust
    Tyre pressure gauge
    Always take a spare key to your 4×4
    Sharp pocket or hunting knife
    Hope this helps guys.

  • Unless I missed it but could not see a comment about taking a good workshop manual in the 7 tips before you on a big trip.

  • You really should have a product called kneedit ( I think that spelling is correct) I’ve used this stuff numerous times to fix leaks in fuel tanks and radiators . Another good tip is to take a submersible pump , or you can use your 12v shower to suck water into your tanks or jerry cans .

  • I also like to carry vandle proof tap keys and a couple of those grippy things the wife uses to get jar lids off in the kitchen.

  • Clever people, the bushys. I had a V8 Land Rover County that used to vaporize on hot days. He suggested that I put about a litre of diesel with each tank of petrol. It worked a treat!

  • We own a Nissan Patrol and as such most bolts and nuts we need to access are 13mm or smaller we carry a 1/4 inch drive socket set in addition mainly because the 1/2 inch drive won’t fit into most places also double up on the common size spanners 12/13 mm etc set of Allen keys, A long knuckle bar as to replace the fan belt requires the belt tensioner to be pulled back and the standard pieces in a 1/2 inch drive socket set doesn’t give enough leverage. Pieces of exhaust pipe about 40mm long to match radiator/heater hose sizes and hose clamps to suit, we were shown this by an old bushy in the gulf country when we burst a hose we had spare hoses but as everyone knows nothing worse on a stinking hot day and hot motor trying to replace them. Most hoses don’t tear but have a burst point in them cut the hose insert exhaust pipe and clamp then change it in the morning when its all cold and everybody is in a better mood on top of which they take up no space in your spare box

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