Preventative Maintenance – The alternative to bringing spare parts

I can’t count how many times I’ve come across a forum post asking “what spare parts should I bring?” followed by multiple replies with an absurd amount of recommendations. Belts, radiator hoses, axle shafts, tie rods, ball-joints, bearings, water & power steering pumps, brake pads & hoses, alternator, fuel filters & pump, vacuum & heater hoses, spark plugs, etc etc.


Suppose it’s a personal pet-peeve being in the automotive industry that focuses on maintenance & car care. The goal should always be to address and correct an known problem before it becomes an issue. Good preventative maintenance goes a LONG way when it comes to having to carry spare parts. Inspect, catch and replace worn/common components before hitting the trail. It’s mind boggling how many people just drive their vehicles into the back-country without giving it a complete once over, spending time wrenching instead of wheeling because something simple and stupid.

Before you pull out your pitch fork – of course there is always going to be break downs that cannot be foreseen and stuff does happen, but I’d say 80-90% of issues shouldn’t be issues in the first place. I don’t carry much in the form of spare parts. Basic fluids, spare belt, full electrical bag with testing equipment, tire patch kit, various nuts/bolts and the usual quick fixers like zip ties and duct tape.

Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.


– Engine –

Check/replace oil & filter. Check for leaks. Check air filter. Check belt and for noise coming from pulleys. Verify that scheduled maintenance items are up to date. Inspect motor/transmission mounts.

– Cooling System –

Never start a trip if vehicle has tendency to overheat. Check coolant level. Check for leaks. Check radiator cap. Insure hoses secure and not soft/spongy.

– Drive Train –

Check for leaks. Verify that scheduled maintenance items are up to date. Check for play in u-joints. Check front and rear bearings for play, roughness and noise. Check front drive axle joints and boots. Grease all zerk fittings.

– Suspension & Steering-

Check for play/stiffness in ball-joints, tie-rods, uniballs. Check leaf pack, shackle and mounting hardware. Check front coilovers/rear shocks for leakage and mounting points are secure. Grease all zerk fittings.

– Wheels, Tires & Brakes –

Check and set tire pressure. Check for punctures, tears & gashes. Torque lug-nuts. Inspect pad/shoe linings. Inspect brake fluid level. Inspect brake lines for cracking and that they have enough slack and clearance for turning and suspension travel.

– Everything Else –

Address any issues and/or concerns you had last trip. That thing on the back of your mind? Check it and fix it! Every vehicle has it’s quirks and you should take care of them as needed.

By | 2017-01-23T11:44:10+00:00 August 10th, 2016|Articles|1 Comment

About the Author:

Desert explorer. Photographer. Vehicle enthusiast. In constant pursuit to find something new. Mining history buff.

One Comment

  1. Peter Matusov October 12, 2016 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    “Never start a trip if vehicle has tendency to overheat. ”
    This should be in bold and red. Along with the things like
    “Never start a trip if vehicle ever exhibited an unexplained loss of coolant and the reason has not been found.”
    “Never start a trip if vehicle has tendency to have difficulty starting when hot.”

    Unfortunately, one can start a trip in a perfectly-maintained vehicle and still suffer a humiliating defeat.

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