Pre Trip Planning

In Articles by Glyn DemmerLeave a Comment

How much planning you do depends on the duration of your trip and how far you will be traveling, a day trip will merely require a cooler box packed with a meal, water etc. as well as a few basic tools, a recovery kit, fire extinguisher and a small first aid kit. While a longer trip will require more tools, some spares, more equipment and detailed planning.

So kick off by detailing the trip;

  • Where are you going?
  • How far will you travel each day?
  • What is the availability of fuel?
  • Will you need to carry extra fuel?
  • Develop a flexible itinerary understanding that accommodation may have to be booked if you are traveling in high season.
  • See that the paperwork is in order.
  • Download our checklist.
  • Share your itinerary with a family member or friend.

Then look at your vehicle especially if you are traveling far or across borders;

  • Is your 4×4 adequately insured and does it include repatriation of the vehicle and passengers from the actual place where an incident could occur?
  • Download a list of dealerships in the neighboring territories in case you may need this.
  • Check that your service history is up to date and that you will not have to service the vehicle while traveling.

Even if it has been serviced check the vehicle yourself for absolute peace of mind!

Do an under bonnet check;

  • Strange noises whilst engine is running.
  • Look for any leaks.
  • Check oil and water level.
  • Check radiator condition (look at the core and hoses).
  • Check your battery and terminals.
  • Check tension and condition of all belts.
  • Check your air cleaner and filter.
  • Look at your engine mounts and wiring harnesses.
  • Brake and clutch fluid.

Underbody check;

  • Have a look at general condition, mountings and brackets, springs and shock absorbers.
  • Oil leaks from transmission, sump, differentials.
  • Fuel tank and fuel lines.
  • Drive shafts and universal joints.
  • Braking system.
  • Exhaust system.
  • Tyres , hubs and wheel nuts ( Spare as well – pressure N.B.)

Then take the car on road especially if it is not your daily vehicle of use;

  • Evaluate the overall performance.
  • Check transmission in terms of gear selection.
  • Listen for any strange noises.
  • Brakes and handbrake.
  • Window washers.
  • Lights and indicators.
  • Seats and seatbelt operation.

 

The last point is the packing of your vehicle, here weight distribution is critical, the more weight you put on your roof the more you influence the roll over angle and the risk of rolling on a side slope- so keep the heavy stuff as low as possible (water and fuel). The configuration of your vehicle ( Single Cab , Double Cab, Station Wagon)  will determine where you want to keep stuff this will also be influenced by canopy fitment and whether you have a built in packing system or use loose boxes and suchlike. Things like cameras and recovery equipment, fire extinguishers and first aid kits should always be close at hand. When packing heavy items; try to balance the weight around the load area and always secure items with a cargo net and/or suitable tie downs.

About the Author

Glyn Demmer

My first 4x4 was a Nissan Hardbody thereafter I started travelling all over the country. In 1992 we held a big 4x4 day with hundreds of Nissan families, and then the 4x4 bug really bit. A friend Monty Brett and I started running 4x4 courses at the Hennops Off-road Trail just outside of Johannesburg. At first we offered day-and-a-half courses that started on Friday afternoon and finished on Saturday afternoon. Hannes Grobler the Rally Ace regularly assisted, and we reached a nice balance between our two styles and our skills.

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