Photography: Richard Giordano and Harry Wagner

As the weather warms up and much of the country thaws out, many people start to think about spending time out exploring and camping. That might mean that your 4×4 comes out of hibernation in the garage, or perhaps you have been using it as your daily driver all winter. Either way, there are a few things you should inspect before you leave the pavement with your family and friends.

We understand that it isn’t as exciting to check your ball joints for wear as it is to say… buy a Rubicon Express long arm suspension, but it is an important practice that can keep you from breaking on the trail. Or worse, sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck while your friends are living it up in Moab. This is good advice for any vehicle, but wheeling rigs that are subjected to hard use off-road really need to be inspected regularly.

Large tires and wheels with little backspacing create stresses that would destroy the drivetrain of most passenger cars in short order. Airing those tires down, wedging them between boulders, and trying to turn the wheel to negotiate obstacles all increases those stresses exponentially. New noises and small vibrations are clues that you have an issue that should be investigated before they turn into more significant problems. A little preventative maintenance and giving your rig a once over can be the difference between an enjoyable day on the trail or rolling around in the dirt fixing busted parts.