Editors get bored, we like to think too much, talk too much, and given enough free time will get into too much trouble. That’s why we began “Ask 4WAAM”. It gives me specific stuff to think about.
Todays question revolves around maintenance. The question was “What maintenance do I need to do to my off road vehicle.” (Paraphrased because the question was Jeep specific, but the answer applies to everyone.)
We chatted back and forth a bit and it was immediately apparent the question asker wasn’t talking about air filters, and tire tread. They wanted to know about bushing joints, rod ends, drive shafts etc…
Here is what started their line of questioning. They went to X off road shop and had a lift, wheels, tires, new driveshafts, and all the supporting bits installed. Money exchanged hands, they were patted on the head, and with no other education sent on their way. For the record a good shop will at least offer to do the maintenance for a fee and let you know it needs done. A really good shop will tell you about all of it, show you where it is, and then ask you to bring it back so they can do it for a fee.
Back to our question asker. The Jeep was great for a while, a few trips off road, some bad weather, several thousand road miles, and now some squeaks, some groans, and some wobbles. “Why did this happen?” he asked, to which I replied “Did you grease the bushings?”. This prompted a very long pause in our electronic correspondence. When the reply did come back in the answer was a simple “No! I didn’t know I needed to.”
There in lies the problems for many off road neophytes. They want the lifestyle, the camaraderie, and the fun but most don’t understand the maintenance of a modified vehicle. Just an FYI a stock Jeep or other off road vehicle are generally maintenance free when it comes to control arm bushings, drive shafts, and generally their suspension components in general. Swap in new ones when they go bad and drive on.
With modified parts they see more abuse, they require in almost all cases additional maintenance, and if you don’t they wear out very prematurely.
“What should I do?” was the last question he asked. The answer is do your maintenance, pay someone to do your maintenance, or replace your parts. Technically there is another option but only before you already installed that pricey lift. Several manufacturers have developed excellent suspension lift systems that are maintenance free or significantly less maintenance. One of the more prominent systems are from Metalcloak and TeraFlex. The Duroflex joint and TeraFlex new Alpine arm system are examples of low maintenance suspension systems that offer excellent control, articulation, and comfort.
So the next time you go to buy a suspension system, drive shaft, or other aftermarket part ask yourself, “Do I want to do the maintenance, or do I want something simpler?” Remember it doesn’t mean you are giving up capability.
Speaking of drive shafts just briefly. Many top tier aftermarket drive shafts have to be disassembled regularly for proper maintenance. The carton joint requires grease to be injected directly into the joint with a grease gun and needle fitting. Not something everyone wants to do in addition to suspension joints, rod ends, and that pesky oil change.
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