Make sure that you have adequate braking material, in good condition and without contamination (such as grease or oil). This is your life, don’t take chances on borderline OK, replace anything that is questionable.
Rotors & Drums
Check brake drums and rotors for damage, scoring and minimum thickness (usually stamped on the component). Again, correct any problems before you leave.
Check and/or replace brake fluid
Check brake fluid, add as necessary and replace old or contaminated fluid completely. If you run your brakes hot, it is a good idea to do replace the fluid anyway.
Bleed brake lines
Bleed all brake lines. Check bleed screws for leaks and general condition – clean and cap if possible.
Check for interference or adequate line length during articulation
Check your brake lines to make sure they are long enough and do not catch on anything when full articulated and at full steering lock.
Check lines for cracks, cuts, abrasions, etc.
Check all brake lines for cuts, abrasions, cracks, poor fittings, leaks or any other possible damage. If you find a problem – fix it!
Check all fittings, mounts and bolts for tightness. Make sure you carry the right tools to service your brakes!
Adjust E- brake
Adjust your emergency (parking) brake so that it holds your vehicle securely but does not drag. Replace any damaged component in your E-brake system. Don’t have an emergency brake? – Get something (like a line lock) and install it!
Axles & Differentials
Hubs and seals
Check for damage or leaks – correct any problems.
Open each differential; inspect gears and teeth conditions, check for chunks of metal, change oil.
A metallic powder in the bottom of the case is fairly normal, big chucks of metal are not. Check the condition of the gear teeth on the ring and pinion and in the spider gears. Change the gear oil if it is dirty. If you have a limited slip differential make sure that you use the correct oil or add a limited slip additive.
With ARB air lockers check air lines, condition, fittings, clearances.
If you have ARB,s check all of your air lines and fittings and make sure that the air lines have adequate length during full suspension travel and do not catch on any component. It is always a good idea to carry spare air line and a repair fitting.
Check vacuum lines and shift motors on central disconnecting axles.
If your Jeep has a vacuum actuated front axle disconnect, check the vacuum lines and make sure the shift motor is operating correctly and is
Eyeball axle housing for cracks, straightness, damage, rust corrosion, etc.
Check vent lines.
Make sure that the axle vent lines are mounted as high as possible to avoid water from entering the axle when crossing deep water.
Check pinion for play.
For both the front and rear axle check the input pinion for play which may indicated a worn bearing.
Check front U joints – make sure you have a spare!
Check the U-joints in your front-end knuckles (and the rest of your driveline). Lubricate them and make sure you carry at least one spare of every U-joint on your Jeep. These are another commonly used spare item on the trail. Make sure you know how to change them and that you have the tools
to do it.
Check front knuckles.
On your front axle check the steering knuckles, ball joints, steering arms, etc. Fix or replace any damage or worn components.
Check & lubricate all points
Make sure you have spares!
Check & lubricate all driveshaft U-joints. If there is any question at all replace it. Remember to check the center section of any constant velocity (CV or double cardan) joints. Make sure you carry spares and the correct tools to service U-Joints.
Check splines & slip yokes – lubricate.
Check all slip yokes and splines. Lubricate splines. If you have a tailcone slip yoke check housing for cracks, carry something to seal the tail cone if it gets damaged on the trail.
Check for straightness, dents, and make sure all balance weights are attached securely.
Check all driveshafts for damage and straightness. Make sure your balance weights are securely attached. An unbalanced or damaged driveshaft at speed can cause serious vibrations problems, destroy U-joint and even cause significant damage. If a weight (usually welded on) has been knocked off or if you have a history of replacing U-joints or a bad pinion bearing it is a good idea to have your driveshaft serviced. Don’t ignore the front driveshaft!
U-joint straps / u-bolts
Check all U-bolt straps and/or bolts. Use nylock nuts or lock-tite on them and do not over tighten U-bolts – they can crush the U-joint bearing. Always carry a spare set of all types of straps, U-bolts or other bolts used on your vehicle.
Any side to side motion is bad and usually indicates a bad pinion bearing. Check seals for leaks. Check U-joints & straps.
Visually inspect case and shifter mechanism.
Check for any possible problems such as interference, wear or damaged connectors or e-clips.
Make sure all caps/seals are in place.
Check for ease of shifting.
Change fluid & inspect fluids for chunks of metal.
Change the fluid, remember to replace it with the correct type of fluid – chain driven cases often use ATF. Some metallic powder would be normal, but chunks of metal are not.
Check indicator & speedometer connections. if you still have a speedometer
Check vent slines.
Visually inspect case and shifter.
Make sure all caps and seals are securely in place.
Check vent lines.
Check for ease of shifting & synchros.
Check clutch, linkage & pedal.
On Jeeps with hydraulic clutches check clutch fluid, fill as necessary and bleed clutch lines. Check clutch lines for damage or leaks.
Change fluid and inspect fluids for chunks of metal.
Change the fluid, remember to replace it with the correct type of fluid. Some metallic powder would be normal, but chunks of metal are not. Sometime synthetic fluids and/or additives can help troublesome shifters
Visually inspect case and shifter
Make sure all caps and seals are securely in place
Change fluid and inspect fluids for chunks of metal & “burned smell”
Change the fluid; remember to replace it with the correct type of fluid. Some metallic powder would be normal, but shavings or chunks of metal are not.
Change filter if necessary.
Changing the fluid and filter can often help troublesome transmissions. Even though many service manuals do not require it is a very good idea to do it periodically on your Jeep.
Adjust bands if necessary.
Check all electrical connections.
Check vent lines.
Electrical / lighting
Inspect and replace battery if needed. Fully charge battery.
Your battery is a critical lifeline; it starts your rig, runs your winch, keeps the lights on and when your alternator fails even runs the ignition for a while.
Inspect and replace and damaged or corroded wiring. Clean all cable connections (esp. at battery and ground straps).
Check all lights for proper functioning, replace cracked lenses or assemblies. Check fuses and the fuse box and carry spare fuses of all ratings. If your vehicle uses a fusible link anywhere – carry spares.
Check alternator connections, output and voltage regulator. Carry spares if needed.
Check radio wiring & antenna. Tune your radio and antenna if needed.
Change radiator fluid.
This should be done once a year. Inspect the old fluid for signs of corrosion or rust. If your fluid is discolored and rusty, thoroughly flush your system before adding any new fluid.
Clean fins and check radiator for leaks, repair any problems or bent fins.
Check condition of all hoses & clamps, carry spare cpamps, hoses and patches.
Replace any cracked or swollen hoses and any bad or corroded clamps.
Check and replace thermostat if necessary.
Make sure your fan & fan clutch (or electrical fan) are working and that your fan has a fan shroud.This includes everything from the steering wheel down to the steering arms. Replace or repair any damaged component. Pay particular care when inspecting the steering box and it’s attachment to the frame. With over sized tires look for cracks around the steering box mounts. Check steering drag link and tie rod for straightness and dents. Any dent is a weakness that can pretzel the component when stressed on the trail so fix it ahead of time. Lubricate & torque all components.
Check all steering components bolts and nuts and make sure they are undamaged and are tightened correctly. Check adjustment sleeves & threads, ball joints, etc. Make sure that any crown nuts have cotter pins installed and carry spare pins.
Check power steering fluid, belts and hoses.
Belts and hoses should be undamaged, belts should be tight.
Check pump and reservoir for leaks.
Check for “burnt” fluid. Replace or fill with power steering fluid as necessary.
Replace the fluid if you detect a “burnt” smell. It’s always a good idea to carry spare power steering fluid.
Check for interference with all components – especially during articulation or full steering lock.
Check alignment or get vehicle aligned.
Clean it. When its clean you have a better chance of finding leaks. Plus if you have to work on it, a cleaner engine is more fun to work on.
Inspect all of it for leaks, cracks or damage.
Inspect used oil for large metal particles or contaminants such as radiator fluid.
Tune your engine & replace filters or other components.
Check spark plugs, distributor & wires.
It’s always a good idea to carry spare ignition components
Check all vacuum & emission lines & hoses.
Check all lines and hoses. Correct any vacuum leaks.
Tighten belts – carry spares.
Clean carb or injectors. Check all electrical & throttle connections including TPS.
Check for worn gears, poor engagement, bad or corroded connections. Correct any problems. If you have an automatic transmission it is always a good idea to have a spare starter on the trail.
Check seat belts and mounting bolts for all passengers.
Pay particular attention to the condition of the body where the bolts mount (looking for rust, corrosion or weakness) and frayed or worn seat belts. Clean and lubricate retractors and latch mechanisms.
Replace windshield wipers and fluid.
Inspect tub / body for corrosion or rust in critical areas.
Body mounts, firewall, seat mounts, roll cage mounts, floor board, etc.
Inspect roll cage or “sports” bars.
Not just the condition of the cage or bars, but the body where the mounts are and all welds.
Check your first aid kit and replace any needed first aid items.
Check all winch components, cables and hooks.
Check all electrical connections, your winch controller and your winch. Run all of your cable out and rewind it carefully and
evenly checking for frayed or damaged cable while doing so. Make sure your winch kit is complete with heavy leather gloves, tree saver
strap, chain, a good heavy clevis shackle or two and a good pulley rated for your winch.
Check tow hooks, recovery points and their mounts.
All vehicles need good attachment points front and rear, adequately mounted and in good condition. Grade 8 bolts over welded hooks.
Check for cuts, frays or mildew – replace damaged strap. Make sure you have a winch line weight (blanket or other).
High Lift Jack
Inspect, clean and lubricate your high lift jack
Check all spare parts and tools.
Carry all the spare parts and tools that you think you might need on the trail. If several similar vehicles are on the same trip, they can team up to carry common spares and tools and thus save space. Make sure all parts and tools are readily accessible in all situations.
Check gas tanks and jerry cans. Make sure you have spouts & siphon hose.
Make sure your spare cans are filled with fresh gas and use gas preservative in them. You don’t want to have problems with the gas when you really need it, use the highest grade and quality of gas you can get in your jerry cans. Make sure your cans are in good conditions, seal well (you don’t want gas spilling out when you get off camber on the trail) and that you have spouts for the cans and a length of usable siphon hose.
Make sure that everything can be secured properly in the vehicle.
On the trail anything that is not securely fastened down will go flying, so fasten absolutely everything down.
Always carry spare money, cash, credit cards, ATM cards and whatever else you might need stashed both in your vehicle and somewhere on your person.
Spare keys for your Jeep and your tow rig
You will never feel more stupid until you find yourself stuck on the trail because you dropped your keys down a cliff, into a crack or fissure in a mountain, in a mud bog or down into a deep river and you can’t get your vehicle going again. Only carry the keys you absolutely need with you on the trail and always carry a spare set of keys securely in the vehicle.
Food & Water, sleeping bag, tent.
Carry enough emergency supplies, including food and water so if you find yourself stuck on the trail (or on a deserted highway) for a day or more you can get by. If you are likely to be in cold or hot weather also make sure you have reasonable clothing and shelter to handle any emergency. If you think you may have to walk it out, make sure you have a way (like a small backpack) to carry food, water and supplies with you.