An owners’ guide to 4x4s

  • Simple maintenance of your 4×4 can save you time, money and hassle. By keeping an eye on the basics, potential problems can be identified before you hitch up your trailer and travel miles from home.

    This essential guide highlights the fundamental areas of routine maintenance that you should be aware of.For example, did you know that split wiper blades will cause your 4×4 to fail its MOT?


    Keep an eye on brake performance and adjust when necessary. Also watch for signs of wear on discs and drums. When removing drums take care not to inhale the brake dust, it is potentially harmful.

    Fluid levels

    Check the level of the fluid reservoirs for the clutch and brakes once a week. The pots are clearly marked with a minimum level indicator to help.

    Washers and wipers

    Check the condition of your wiper blades to make sure they have not split. Also make sure your washer bottle is topped up and add some screenwash – it acts as a degreaser and will stop the water from freezing in the winter.

    Fan belt

    Check for wear and corrosion on all fan/drive belts. Also make sure that belts are tensioned correctly. Carry a spare if you’re concerned.


    The minimum legal tread depth on a car tyre is 1.6mm, not normally a problem on most off-road tyres, but check for uneven wear and bulges in the tyre walls. Remember illegal tyres carry large fines and licence endorsements.


    Most modern batteries are maintenance-free, however, check the fluid level if required and make sure the poles are clean – most 4x4s are very heavy to push start so attention here could save you some serious exercise.


    Carry out a daily visual check of all the lights on your vehicle. Get a friend to check your brake lights or reverse close to a wall and use your mirrors to make sure they work properly and are clean enough to be seen.

    Oil and water

    Regularly check, and top up the oil and water levels in your engine. Failure to do this could result in an expensive replacement engine! Always allow the oil level to settle after running the engine and remember DO NOT remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot.


    This feature is a small section of the FREE 24-page supplement Buying and maintaining a used 4×4 included in subscriber copies of this week’s Horse & Hound (17 April) plus the summer issue of HORSE magazine (on sale on 29 May).

    Written by 4×4 experts, the supplement covers:

    • The A-Z of used 4x4s – which car is best for your needs and why
    • How to get the most out of your 4×4 vehicle
    • Which tyres are best for your vehicle – off and on-road
    • Handy driving tips and useful 4×4 facts.

    Whether you use your 4×4 for towing a trailer, transporting hay and feed to the stables or the school run, this supplement will prove to be an essential read.

    Non-subscribers can also receive a free copy of the supplement by simply emailing their name, address and contact telephone number to 4×4@ipcmedia.com.

    For more expert advice on 4×4 vehicles visit www.4x4i.com or www.landroverworld.co.uk

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