Anyone who does much playing in the dirt knows that vehicles get abused and sometimes get pushed beyond reasonable limits. Parts also fatigue with age and use, and can be prone to failure. It’s great when we can do regular maintenance and the occasional repair in the home garage, but sooner or later you’re bound to be faced with some type of field repair situation. A few things to consider:
- Know how to perform basic maintenance and repair of your off-road vehicle
- Always carry a decent hand tool set with you when you venture out
- Consider carrying spares for parts that are known to be common fail risks
- Carry some spare hardware and other patch aids (duct tape, steel wire, etc.)
While we certainly can’t anticipate all failures or off-road accidents, being prepared to tackle some occurrences can go a long way toward keeping you from having to spend unexpected downtime stuck out in the boonies. We’ve seen some ingenious repairs, so use your head and the help of friends to get you back home safely.
Here’s a quick fix for what could have ruined the day. This long radiator hose was poorly installed and got a bit too close to the alternator fan blades. The blades wore a small hole through the hose and it started shooting hot water and steam out. Once the engine was allowed to cool a few minutes, the hose was well wrapped with duct tape, and then more tape was used to keep the hose pulled tightly to the radiator shroud. This simple repair held fine for a few days until a replacement hose could be purchased.
If you’re planning to venture far away from main roads and civilization, it pays to not only keep your vehicle in good shape, but familiarize yourself with possible weak points and how to repair them should they break. We sometimes see rigs that have lost some bolta or sheared them off. It’s good practice to carry at least a small quantity of replacement hardware. Other times, you might be able to borrow some hardware from another location on the vehicle to make the field repair.
Advanced field repairs involving welding and substantial drivetrain disassembly may be beyond your capabilities. But if you venture far out, you and your group may one day be faced with some catastrophic failure. Having the self-sufficient ability to do your own repair can be rewarding and confirm your confidence to safely hit remote reaches of dirt. Limping back in your vehicle pretty much always beats walking out to find help.
When something goes badly wrong and it looks like there’s little hope of getting the rig moving again, take a break, and step back to consider your options. You wouldn’t want to do a questionable steering patch if you have to travel over a high mountain pass to get home. However, your main goal is often to limp back to a trailer or tow spot, a temporary fix job may get you out of the middle of nowhere.