6 things to check for keeping your ride in top shape

Tire rims

Check your rims for damage after going over rocks and other obstacles. Dents and kinks can compromise the bead and result in a slow leak that’s guaranteed to only get worse—often when it’s most inconvenient, like in the middle of a swamp. Trust me. I’ve been there.

Air filter

A dirty air filter will reduce performance and increase fuel consumption. Some models have filters you can clean, and that’s definitely a blessing. On the other hand, replaceable filters can be changed quickly—and without getting your hands dirty.

Battery

As with any motor vehicle, it’s important to give the battery a good once-over. Is the fluid topped up? Are the cables on tight, and free of corrosion? Now and then, test the battery for performance. If it’s getting old, consider buying a new one before making that big trip.

Fuel

If you still have last year’s gas in the tank, get rid of it before it gums up the works—yes, even at today’s fuel prices. The machine will probably run on it, but think of what it’s doing to the filters and the engine itself.

Fluid levels

Regularly check the fluid levels on the front and back differentials, the transfer case, the engine and anything else the manufacturer recommends. Take a moment to also inspect the colour of the fluid. Is it clean or murky, or, worse yet, downright filthy? Off-road buggies go through some dirty stuff—they need to know you care.

Shimmy shakes

Regularly check the front wheels, the swing arms and the axle mechanisms. If they feel loose, which they shouldn’t, it could mean the bearings are not what they used to be. In the early stages, you’ll still get to where you’re going and back again, but you want to have it looked at. Poor cornering is just one of the problems you can otherwise expect.