Offroad Expedition Checklist

The material on the page assumes some basic prior wheeling skill and knowledge in vehicle mechanics. The following lists serve as pre-flight check for maintenance items and a compilation of useful tools to have with you on the trail. It is intended for overland explorers and hard-core wheelers alike. Links to items will be provided where able. Never wheel alone, and always pack out your trash. Happy Wheeling!

Maintenance Checklist:

FLUIDS:

  • Engine Oil
  • Transmission Fluid
  • Transfer Case Oil
  • Bake Fluid
  • Clutch Fluid
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Radiator Coolant
  • Windshield Wiper Fluid
  • Full Gas Tank!

RUBBER COMPONENTS:

  • Engine Belts
  • Radiator Hose
  • Vacuum Hoses
  • Air Cleaner

Electrical:

  • Battery (reads > 12.6V)
  • Alternator (reads > 14V < 16V)
  • Spark Plug Lines
  • Distributor / Coil Packs
  • Fuses
  • Horn
  • Winch

Drivetrain:

  • U-Joints
  • Driveshafts
  • Transfer Case (Hi & Lo)
  • Differential Leaks
  • Wheel Lug Nuts
  • Shifter / shift linkage

Suspension & Brakes:

  • Brake Lines
  • Shocks
  • Springs
  • Calipers / Drums
  • Parking Brake
  • Steering Linkage
  • Tire Condition
  • Tire Pressure (air up for highway, down for trail)
  • Brake Pads / Shoes

Before heading out on any adventure, your vehicle should be in sound operating condition. If it has been sitting a while since your last excursion, run down this list and inspect each component. Fluids should be in good condition, unburnt, and with little / no oxidation. Rubber components and electrical cables should be free from cracks or splits. Areas under pressure such as brake, fuel, and clutch lines should be checked for leakage especially around fittings. Check the tires for correct pressure and look for dry-rot. Give the engine a fresh splash of oil and a new filter. Change the air cleaner. Those of you with automatics should also give some love to your transmission filter.

Always travel in groups of two or more vehicles. Each vehicle should have a basic tool kit, recovery kit, and first aid kit. Be sure to alert someone back home of where you will be going and when you expect to return.

Required Equipment:

Vehicles must be highway-legal. This includes functioning lights and blinkers, seat belts, fenders, and registered license plate.

  • Type ABC Fire extinguisher, easily accessed
  • Tow strap, 20’ minimum with no hooks or brackets
  • Tow points front and rear
  • Full Sized spare, matching lug wrench
  • Bottle jack with 12” square base (a slab of wood will work)
  • Basic tool set
  • Fix-a-flat and tire plug kit
  • Air compressor
  • Pocket pressure gauge
  • Jumper cables
  • CB Radio, 40-channel preferred
  • First Aid Kit
  • Water, 1 gallon per person per day
  • Heavy-duty trash bags

Every vehicle, whether a grocery runner just out for a scenic drive or a hard-core rig crawling over rocks should have the basics above covered. You never know when you will need to fix a flat, perform a self-recovery, or help a less prepared wheeler down on their luck. If you are traveling in a group having the basics covered ensures that you will not be a liability to others, and that you will always be ready to lend a hand to a traveler in need.