Five ways to maintain your tow vehicle and avoid the mechanic
By Steve Cassano
Cars and 4WDs are so reliable these days, it can be tempting to leave essential maintenance to the mechanic when you get your vehicle serviced.
But whether you’re towing a camper trailer or lugging a massive luxury caravan, there are ways you can get more familiar with your vehicle and ensure it’s properly maintained.
1 Check tyre pressures
Getting it right and knowing what’s needed for different loads and terrains will improve wear, economy, traction, braking and most importantly, safety. You can save a lot of time by minimising the risk of a puncture if you venture off-road.
For vehicles, the placard with the recommended pressures is usually located inside one of the door frames. As for caravans, the best advice is to seek the manufacturer’s suggestions. Another good place to go is the website of the Caravan Council of Australia, caravancouncil.com.au. It has plenty of technical advice on tyre pressures and towing generally.
2 Check the air filter
I suggest changing your air filter at least every 10,000km and more often in dusty conditions. Most air filters can be changed very easily in a few minutes with simple tools and in some cases no tools. There are many videos online showing how to do it for more common vehicles.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to also clean your cabin filter, sometimes called a pollen filter.
3 Keep up the fluids
Modern 4WDs and passenger vehicles can have up to nine different fluids that not only need checking regularly but need to be changed at different times depending on where you’re going.
It’s always best follow your service manual schedule and use the appropriate fluids and filters specific for your vehicle.
4 Add a throttle booster or controller
This nifty device eliminates throttle lag for 4WDs equipped with fly-by wire accelerators, which are usually standard on more modern vehicles.
A programmable unit fitted to your dash gives you a number of settings for faster acceleration.
This would be one of my favourite modifications, giving an immediate improvement for not only towing but for general driving.
5 Watch the battery
Ensure the terminals are clean and tight and minimum charge levels are being maintained.
These are just some suggestions I recommend in my 4WD training courses you can do yourself without having a degree in mechanical engineering. Give them a go, improve your driving experience and save some dollars.
Steve Cassano is an accredited 4WD instructor and touring consultant based in Sydney
For the full-length suggestions and costs, see Issue 24 of ROAM