Q. Currently, as soon as I get home from off-roading my One Ten (rebuilt on a galvanised chassis), I blast the underside and then spend as long as it takes with a hose to get every trace of mud and grit off the underside and bodywork. When it’s dry, I check for any leaks or obvious damage and then grease the propshaft universal joints. What else should I be doing to make sure all the components are working as they should?
A. After each run in my own Series III (which also has a galvanised chassis) I blast everything underneath until the chassis, underbody, suspension and running gear are cleaned of muck. Check the radiator and, on yours, the intercooler. Wash these with gentle hose pressure if the matrices are clogged with mud.
I then leave the vehicle outside until it’s properly dried – which may take a day or a week, depending on the weather. When it’s dry, I get it into its garage and have a good look for oil leaks and attend to anything serious. I check the transmission oil levels every couple of months and, if I’ve been wading a lot, I’ll drop the oils to check for water getting in.
On yours, fit wading plugs to the timing cover and bellhousing if going in the drink, and then remove them afterwards so that any oil leaks can drain out without contaminating the clutch and timing belt.
After each run I’ll do a visual check of suspension and steering components, check the drag link and track rod for impact damage and make sure no underside pipes or cables have come loose and dropped down. Exhaust pipes usually stay well up out of harm’s way, but check the downpipe from the engine.
Check the harmonic damper on your front axle. These can get knocked off or the bracket bent – it should have a safety cable fitted. Check the axle and transmission breather pipes are intact and are still led up into the engine compartment. Suspension bushes obviously take a hammering and these need replacing as soon as they become loose.
While you’re checking underneath, take the grease gun with you and give the propshaft universal and sliding joints a few pumps until you see the old grease moving out. Apart from ensuring they’re well lubricated, this helps keep water out.
The propshaft joints work much harder because of the extra axle articulation off-road. Check the props for impact damage and make sure the balance plate is still attached. Loss of a balance weight or impact may mean the shaft has to be removed and re-balanced by a driveline specialist, otherwise it will accelerate wear on the joints, and the diff and transfer box bearings and oil seals.
Lift each wheel in turn with the jack and give it a spin by hand. This confirms the brakes are free of grit and gives an idea of the wheel bearing condition. Lever the front wheels sideways to feel bearing play, and in a vertical arc to feel swivel bearing play.
Tyres should be checked when rejoining the road. Look for cuts and bulges on the tread and both the inner and outer sidewalls. Check the pressures, too – you may have collected a slow puncture.
I like to clean mud from the engine compartment straight away – it’s difficult to shift if it bakes on the engine and, being abrasive, it’s the last thing you want in there. When the engine compartment is dry, spray the whole thing with WD-40 or similar. This will help disperse moisture from the electrics and leaves a light film over everything, preventing corrosion and giving basic water repellence for next time. Keep the battery terminals clean and smeared with petroleum jelly.
Check the engine’s induction hoses from the air filter intake to the inlet manifold, and ensure connections – including those at the turbo and intercooler – are tight to avoid drawing water in. Pipes from turbo to engine have internal pressure, but water can still get in if the engine conks out while wading. Put a bead of silicone sealant around these connections.
In dusty conditions, the air filter may need earlier replacement, likewise the engine oil and filter. The cooling system needs to be in good condition to handle those unexpected long, slow, steep climbs. Keep an eye on the coolant pump gasket, though.
Check the lamp lenses for moisture and remove them to allow the lamp to dry, and squirt WD-40 into the bulb holders. Seal the fittings if they’re taking a lot of water in.
This should help your Land Rover to have a long and reliable life.