Technical Top Tips

4×4 … The competitive urges

What’s the worst that could happen?
Your just itching to get out and compete in that truck you’ve been molly cuddling and rebuilding forever so you’ve got the vehicle, seen the videos, that’s counts as research obviously along with the club events. There are loads of new competitions emerging with the Xtreme Challenges, Ultra 4 Europe is 4x4-racing-offroadannouncing more short courses and a variety of winch challenges are really taking off in a big way so opportunity is taken care of so what is stopping that final step. Fear of damaging that truck you built to last the apocalypse. Well let’s throw some reality on the idea and look at the risks to the wallet.
Engine trouble, everything has been checked before the start line but today lady luck is not shining or is she, if you blow a gasket or pipe it can be repaired by all those friends you dragged along to support you but occasionally the motor can be driven to destruction and a new engine will be required, just the excuse you’ve needed to upgrade to that V8 you’ve had your eye on.
tire-ballsTyres, ok they aren’t cheap and yes they puncture and come off their rims at the most inconvenient time but everyone carries at least one spare and as long as you have your jack and changing gear it’s just a time delay in your victory lap. If you’re going to become a regular competitor there are products like bead locks & rim protectors that help keep tyres on the wheels and Tire Balls that create independent air pockets in the tyres to prevent deflating when you get a puncture.
Brakes, oh heck, what goes up must come down and if you’ve taken your brakes out that’s going to add a memorable note to the party. Checking all your systems before you start any competitions is always a must but brake rotors and lines can be snagged and broken in the heat of a challenge, probably a good job you’re a 4×4 driver, work down your gearbox to decrease speed and back to the pits praying your spare parts kit has what you need to get you back out on the course asap.
Electrical faults can be frustrating, no windscreen wipers or wash and it can be that basic a problem to knock you dreams of victory, all fingers are crossed as the fuse box is worked through, any other problems could cost precious time to locate, check all wires are insulated and safely tucked away.
Suspension, nothing is indestructible, even the most experienced driver can get carried away and blow a shock, bend a spring or break a leaf spring. This kind of damage wont necessarily take you out of a competition but the whole point of suspension is to soften and absorb the terrain so those following laps after a break are going to be felt rather intimately. Your choice of shocks can make all the difference, don’t skimp on these and chooses a good brand that you have adjustments to suit the varying terrain that you will be driving.
Steering, losing direction control is going to be a problem, tie rods, ball joints it’s all being tested to the max. To be fair, if a challenge course was a breeze you wouldn’t be there. You can always upgrade to a hydro steering system.
Weld Failure, you might have built a truck to indestructible portions but Mother Nature and those course designers like to set a valid challenge to man and machine. Welding breaks are just one of those things especially the driving positions you’ve just mastered getting over the last obstacle. Ok if you’re out in the middle of nowhere then cable ties or a steady pace might help you limp on. If a weld kit isn’t part of your competition repair gear then it’s time to drag your sorry butt around the pits to your competitors, they are a friendly bunch and everyone helps each over this side of the start line.
Body damage, most dents can be knocked out or worn as a badge of experience but when a truck’s frame gets bent it most have been one almighty impact or unlucky odds that make the lottery win seem possible. If you standing there admiring your remoulding handy work then the truck did its job and you live to drive another day. Most frame damage can be preventive by fitting roll cages and rockslides etc; but the best way to avoid this sort of wallet denting, eye watering damage is to drive within the limits of the trucks.
Drivetrain, breaking your transmissions, driveshaft or gears is just ‘Pants’ putting it politely, the chances of having spares with you is pretty slim and hardly a fast repair. You could continue in two-wheel drive or without ‘that’ gear squeezing every ounce of goodwill from the truck willing it across the finish line. Chances are it will be an early start home.
Fire, the all-consuming stand back and watch everything disappear before your eyes type of damage. It’s an extreme outcome and most people are sensible enough to carry a fire extinguisher, all competitions make it compulsory so hopefully once the most important component has been saved ‘you’ the rest can be extinguished and dealt with.
So now you’ve looked at things in the rational light of day, don your racing suit and helmet, get out there and enjoy it. What is the worst that can happen?…
Hopefully see you at an event next year.


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