EP46 | How to Maintain Your Overlanding Vehicle for Years of Adventure
Like many aspects of overlanding, keeping your vehicle in top condition and ready for your next adventure involves developing a mindset and body of knowledge and skills suitable to the task.
For some, overland vehicle maintenance is a Zen-like pursuit that they enjoy doing themselves; for others, it is something they prefer to have done by a qualified professional. In this episode, we take a look at both approaches as well as the middle ground of doing some D.I.Y. maintenance while also knowing when it’s time to involve a shop.
And speaking of shops, we take a look at the differences between dealerships and independent shops and the role both of these play in the maintenance of your vehicle. We also explore how to communicate with the mechanics who work on your machine so that you can trust in their work and know you are getting the best value for your money.
In this episode, you will learn the basics of maintaining your overland vehicle both at home and while on the trail, discovering what to look for when it comes to checking your vehicle’s fluids and torquing nuts and bolts to spec.
You will also learn what to look for when checking your air filter and how to know when it’s time to replace it along with best practices for changing your engine oil and filter.
Additionally in this episode, you will find pro tips for keeping your diesel engine running in winter and for optimizing the performance and longevity of both diesel and gasoline engines. You will also find an in-depth discussion about “Starter Batteries,” “Starters,” and “Alternators” which will help keep you from experiencing a vehicle that leaves you stranded by failing to start in the backcountry.
Matt, Ryan, and Jimmy have lots they are eager to share about all things involving overland vehicle maintenance. Join the discussion to find out what you need to know about vehicle maintenance to keep your vehicle reliable and to increase its longevity throughout a life of adventuring.
Detailed Episode Summary
Part 1 (1:30-6:15) Introduction and a Look at How Your Personality May Affect Your Approach to Vehicle Maintenance: People–and vehicles–have different personalities. We take a look at how our personalities often affect our approach to vehicle maintenance and how the “personalities” of different vehicles affect our approach to maintaining them.
Part 2 (6:18-8:45) Finding a Qualified Shop to Service Your Overland Vehicle: Ryan makes an argument for using a competent shop to service your overland vehicle as opposed to a D.I.Y. approach. Matt explains the basics of maintenance knowledge you should have to competently communicate with your shop/mechanic.
Part 3 (8:48-15:25) What can I D.I.Y. and When Should I Involve a Shop? Ryan explains the concept of a “vehicle walkaround” and the benefits of mindfully washing your truck to find mechanical problems. Jimmy addresses the importance of developing a “mindset” toward maintaining your overland vehicle. Matt shares tips on exactly what to look for when keeping tabs on your vehicle’s maintenance. Ryan advises to beware of “normalcy bias.”
Part 4 (15:28-20:15) Independent Mechanics/Shops vs. Dealerships for Overland Vehicle Maintenance? When should you use a dealership vs. an independent mechanic? Is one better than the other? Jimmy explores issues around warranty repairs and the need for certified shops and mechanics and Matt looks at how you can build trust with the right independent mechanic.
Part 5 (20:17-29:41) What to Check on Your Overland Vehicle Before Heading Out on a Trip: Before you head out on an overlanding adventure, what should you check on your vehicle regarding its maintenance? Ryan explains the value of reading your owner’s manual and Matt shares best practices for selecting oil types for specific use cases. Ryan and Matt discuss best practices for checking your oil and things to look for when doing it.
Part 6 (29:42-32:29) What to Look for When Checking Coolant Level–Radiators and Antifreeze: In doing the pre-trip check of your overland vehicle, what should you look for when it comes to checking your coolant and radiator? Matt explains what to look for when selecting antifreeze and how it works within your vehicle.
Part 7 (32:30-36:40) What to Look for When Checking Transmission Fluid: In doing the pre-trip check of your overland vehicle, what should you look for when it comes to checking your Transmission Fluid? Matt explains what to look for when checking your vehicle’s transmission fluid and what the red flags are for transmission issues.
Part 8 (36:41-40:55) What to Look for When Checking Your Brake Fluid: Brake fluid is an important component of your overland vehicle. Matt and Ryan explain why, how it works, and how to monitor it while maintaining your vehicle.
Part 9 (40:58-45:45) Maintaining Diesel Engines in All-Seasons: We explore the need for winterization of your diesel engine by means of winter diesel blends and explain what “gelling” is in a diesel engine and how to avoid it. Matt goes further to share pro tips for keeping your diesel engine in top condition and to increase its longevity.
Part 10 (45:46-50:55) What to Consider When Selecting Fuel for Your Gasoline Engine: Having discussed the different types of diesel fuel, we look at fuel choices for gasoline engines. Matt and Ryan discuss the differences in octanes and why it is best practice to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when choosing the octane for your gasoline engine. We also take a look at fuel stabilizers and additives and why these can be beneficial.
Part 11 (50:58-57:21) What to Do When Your Car Won’t Start? Selecting and Maintaining a “Starter Battery” for Your Overland Vehicle and a Look at Alternators and Starters: What is a “Starter Battery” and what type is best for your overland vehicle? Once you’ve selected and installed your starter battery, what are best practices for monitoring and maintaining it? Jimmy explains why, as a Montanan adventuring in cold weather, he replaces his starter battery every five years. Ryan and Matt share maintenance tips.
Part 12 (57:22-59:34) When to Replace Your Shocks in an Overland Vehicle: Is it possible to maintain your shocks? When should you replace them and what type of shocks are best for your use case? Matt and Ryan explain what to look for when monitoring your shocks for wear and what the red flags are for knowing when it’s time to replace your shocks. Jimmy discusses rebuildable shocks like those offered by ICON Vehicle Dynamics.
Part 13 (59:35-1:04:30) What to Look for When Checking and Replacing Your Engine Oil in an Overlanding Vehicle: Ryan explains why when changing your engine oil you need to also replace your engine oil filter. Matt explores the nuances of engine oil filtration and why you need to stay with your manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to choosing your oil filter. At what interval should you change your engine oil in an overland vehicle? 5,000 miles? 10,000 miles? Matt explains some possible answers to these questions and explains “oil analysis” as a means of optimizing the intervals for changing your engine oil.
Part 14 (1:04:31-1:08:32) What to Look for When Checking and Replacing Your Air Filters in an Overlanding Vehicle: We examine what to look for when determining when to change your air filter in an overlanding vehicle. We also explore the advantages of a “snorkel kit” and why a dirty air filter can be ok when it comes to protecting your engine.
Part 15 (1:08:33-1:11:49) What are Best Practices for Checking and Maintaining Your Tires in an Overlanding Vehicle: Matt reviews the basic principles of maintaining and checking your tires before and during an overlanding adventure. Ryan and Matt explain the need for quality valve covers and valve stems. Jimmy mentions why you should always check the torque on your lugnuts (especially with brand-new aluminum wheels).
Part 16 (1:11:50-End) Final Maintenance Items to Consider When Preparing Your Overland Vehicle for Adventure: We wrap up the episode by sharing some final maintenance ideas to prep your vehicle for overlanding adventure.
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