A.P: I often hear 4WD owners talking about the frequency and high costs involved in servicing. Is there anything that can be done to avoid this?
Allan: Obviously there’s a lot of work that should generally be done by the mechanic in the workshop, but there are a few things that can help. You can fit an extra fuel filter to later model diesel engines to stop contaminated fuel from blocking up your injectors and fuel system. Owner servicing is another option and it’s only really limited to the mechanical knowledge of the operator and the equipment they have available. There are a lot of smaller jobs that owners can do at home and if they’re done regularly, should help to keep costs down.
A.P: Could you give me some examples of these jobs? What can be checked without going to a workshop?
Allan: As I mentioned, it’s up to the operator’s mechanical knowledge and their access to equipment, but they can change the oil and their filters, or check their own fluid levels in the clutch, brake, radiator, windscreen washer and transmission oils. Checking the tyres for uneven wear is another basic one, as well as wiper blades or pedal rubbers. Cleaning battery terminals or checking the heater hoses and drive belts for brittleness and cracking or excessive softness can all be done at home, but at the end of the day it all comes down to what the operator knows how to do and is confident with.
A.P: Is there anything that you regularly see get overlooked in owner services?
Allan: People often forget about their spare when checking tyre tread, and the air conditioner cabin filter always gets overlooked. Give it a shot of Glen 20 and run it for a minimum of 5 minutes. I think it’s imperative that any vehicle owner follows their servicing book’s recommendation on oil specifications. A lot of people don’t and it can cause a range of problems, including premature wear and can end up quite costly.
A.P: What are some conditions that might affect service intervals?
Allan: Any abnormal or extreme conditions are going to mean you need more frequent servicing. This can mean extremely dusty environments, heavy towing or continuous slow running operations. Of course you could also get a poor quality and badly fitted part that will break and damage your engine as well, and that will definitely have an effect on how soon you need your next service!
A.P: That sounds like it can be pretty costly, how would I avoid that problem?
Allan: Just be aware of any parts being fitted to your vehicle. Go to a workshop that you trust or one that specialises in 4WDs and make sure they’re using good, high quality parts companies with parts just as good as OE, if not better, and that have warranties at least equivalent to the genuine manufacturer.