As summer draws to a close and the searing temperatures begin to drop, many of us start to get excited. We peek into our garage, look under car covers, and start making plans. We can feel that desert season is around the corner and that we will once again be reunited with our toys and our seasonal friends. Now is the time to hammer down and give our toys some love and get them ready for the next couple of desert trips, which obviously can't come soon enough. We check under our trucks, jeeps, sand rails, buggies, quads or bikes for obvious signs of leaks, a quick look at the tires to see if they're still holding air, check the fluid levels and (hopefully) unplug the battery tender. We turn the key, flip the switch, push the button or kick the lever and hear our vehicles roar back to life. The surge of endorphins is welcomed and a precursor to the adrenalin that will soon surely flow through our blood, one of the biggest reasons we do this. You shut the engine off and sit there, enjoying the sweet smell of high octane power. Suddenly, you remember the box full of aftermarket goodies you had been collecting throughout the off season, Merry XMAS to you!
Desert season is almost here. Right now is a great time to inspect your desert toys and make sure they'll be ready in time for your first trip.
Check the obvious first.
Hopefully you did a great job in cleaning and maybe even taking notes of things that needed attention last time you took your vehicle out. If you don't already have a whiteboard in your garage, find a suitable surface to write down notes of issues or ideas that will come up as you prep your vehicle. Assuming no leaks are present, check and lube/grease your axles, cv-joints or u-joints and make sure the fasteners securing them are properly torqued. Visually inspect tires for cracking, check air pressure and verify torque on lug nuts.
Assuming you follow a routine maintenance schedule you will know what fluids need replacing or replenishment. If you don't know, drain those fluids and get fresh stuff in there.
Suspension and Steering.
Pay special attention to your suspension and steering components. Ideally, the critical parts are removed, cleaned and sent out for crack checking. Check heims, bushings, rod ends and ball joints for excessive wear or side to side play beyond the factory specified values. Torque all hardware accordingly. Check shocks for leaks or seeping, then check nitrogen level per shock manufacturer's recommendations
START A LOG.
If you don't have an hour meter or odometer, use approximate run time and write it down at the end of every trip. This will help you forecast life expectancy on certain components and allow you to plan ahead and order or carry expendables before you actually need them. This logbook should also be used to store ideas of things you might want to modify on your vehicle
Don't forget to prep your hauler!
Whether you tow, drag, or haul your toys out to the desert make sure you have a sound platform to get you there and back safely. It's sad to see so many desert bound folks stranded on the side of the road with mechanical issues due to poor or overlooked maintenance on their trucks or trailers, don't be one of those poor souls.
When all is ready make sure you check for any permits you might need and reacquaint yourself with local laws. Some rules, laws or ordinances might have changed since you last visited your favorite spot and it would be a shame to receive an infraction for some easily addressed situation.
Finally, get yourself and your friends/family stuff ready and wait for the weekend! We hope to see you out there!