Be Prepared

In Articles, Technical by Glyn DemmerLeave a Comment

In true scout fashion one always needs to be prepared, the length of the trip as well as the destination will guide you in the level of preparation. I always keep a full set of spanners as well as screwdrivers, pliers and side cutters in two tool rolls under my rear seat in the storage compartment for day to day around town eventualities. There you will also find a basic first aid kit, gloves, duct-tape, cable ties and self-fusing silicone tape.

Add to that a 3,5 Metre tow strap and torch, the torch is essential given that at any point in time one could be load-shed and arrive at home in the dark.

Obviously one would add more kit for a weekend away or a longer overland trip and items such as recovery equipment would become essential if going off-road.

Good planning is essential and will ensure a safe and enjoyable trip, all too often one reads on a forum about a breakdown that could have been avoided.

Firstly, are you adequately covered in terms of your vehicle and does that cover extend to neighbouring states, include medical cover, repatriation of your vehicle as well as family members? Consider a specialist policy such as the Ultimate Explorer from Cross Country, that’s the first item ticked off.

Then plan your route and check the availability of fuel (try and keep Jerry Can fuel for emergencies), budget for fuel, meals and accommodation. As many places still do not accept cards a certain amount of cash will be necessary. It’s also worthwhile checking the location of auto-tellers. Then if in high season ensure that you book accommodation in advance, this also applies to your route, I once stayed at Gariep Dam in low season and was amazed to see that the hotel was fully booked, yet it is an obvious stopover to and from the Cape. Pets should be booked into kennels although we far more enjoy using the services of a pet minder who stays over, it has an added security benefit as well! Share you itinerary with a family member as well as the house sitter if you go that route, it gives overall peace of mind.

Then if you are travelling across borders or to remote areas have you vehicle professionally checked by the servicing dealer, they know the vehicle and it’s history. They will obviously quote you to do a full mechanical check which should include a full underbody, under bonnet and on road check, you should do a short off-road check yourself to ensure that everything functions as it should. This includes the engagement and disengagement of 4WD (High and low range) range), functioning of the diff lock(s) or traction control and suspension. Ensure that you have sufficient clean containers for sufficient water, your recovery kit, a well-stocked first aid kit, maps and your GPS.

I have previously mentioned having certified copies of all travel documents and passports and keeping all documents, ID’s, drivers licenses in a single waterproof pouch that is easily accessible in the event of an emergency.

The next step would be to add to the tools ensuring that you have your jack, wheel spanner, handle and warning triangle-and in the event of security nuts being fitted the necessary release socket as well.Add to that a socket set, hammer, chisel, tyre repair kit and tyre levers and you are almost there.

Q Bond or Pratley’s Putty don’t take up much space but can be a trip saver. Water repellant such as WD 40 is a must and if you are travelling in wet areas where water crossings may be necessary throw in a wading sheet as well; you can improvise one in an emergency using duct tape and a heavy-duty bin bag! Basic spares are important if you are not going to be near a town or dealership-on that front get the dealer listing of all dealers on your route from your manufacturer. They are generally more than willing to help.

Dependent on your packing system and or roof rack sort the items into clusters of similar stuff – kitchen, lighting, tools, etc. and ensure that everything is secure, especially stuff inside the vehicle, which could fly around if you are forced to brake!

Other things to check:

  • Bullbarand auxiliary lights.
  • Winch
  • Dual Battery system, lights and fridge, roof rack fitment
  • Gas Bottles
  • Tow bar
  • Recovery points
  • Jerry cans and brackets
  • Water Cans or tanks

The list could go on forever but it’s important to do these checks before a trip and look at any repairs or modifications that may be needed after a trip if things did not all perform according to expectation.
And once totally prepared-enjoy the trip!( Oh and don’t forget your spare key).

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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