How to Service Your 4WD


If you have the pleasure of owning a 4WD, there’s a good chance that you indulge in taking it through its paces out on the rough stuff. Designed to withstand harsh off-road conditions, 4WDs are the perfect companion for those looking to explore off the beaten track. However, before dealing out the kind of punishment that your 4WD is designed to happily take, it’s important to make sure that it’s properly maintained and up for the task. After all, a simple pre-trip service could be the difference between a fun, stress-free off-road trip, and being stuck in the middle of nowhere.  

Servicing and maintenance is best performed in steps, and that first step is checking when your next service is due. Have a look at your specific vehicle’s servicing intervals to see when your next one is up and what needs to be replaced. However, if you’ve got a 4WD road trip coming up, it’s definitely-worth performing a service, even if your next one isn’t due for a while. Extreme conditions such as dusty environments, water crossings, thick sand, and deep mud all take their toll on your 4WD and shorten the lifespan of various service items and components, so if you give your 4WD a hard time, it’s worth performing more regular servicing.  

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As a general service, we’ll be looking at doing an oil and filter change, and replacing the fuel and air filter. Before jumping into the job at hand, you’ll want to make sure you have all of the correct parts and tools available.

This makes for a stress-free service. After all, there’s not much worse than being halfway through a service with your car undriveable, only to find that you’ve bought the wrong oil or filter. Before heading out to your local auto-parts store, head on over to the Ryco website and use the search function to find to gather the right part numbers. Remember, it’s never a good idea to skimp on quality when servicing your vehicle, so only opt for the best, which when it comes to vehicle servicing, is Ryco.

Once you’ve got your parts ready, you’ll need to get your 4WD up in the air. Having a hoist at hand can be a godsend. If not, crack out the jack and jack stands and get to work. Before you start draining any fluids, make sure to let your engine cool down until its warm to the touch. This allows fluids to drain easier, being thinner at higher temperatures, without the risk of scalding yourself. Be sure to have to your drain pan ready, locate your engine oil sump plug and get to work loosening it. 

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With sump empty, next you’ll need to replace your oil filter. Depending on your vehicle and where it’s located on your vehicle’s engine, replacing your oil filter can be pain. However, having an oil filter removal tool at hand can help make easy work of your oil filter replacement. The Ryco Oil Filter Removal Cup comes in a variety of sizes to suit a wide range of oil filters, so you can be assured that there’s one to suit your vehicle. 

Replacing your oil filter can be quite a messy ordeal, especially when the oil filter is located high up in your vehicle’s engine bay. The Ryco Flexi Funnel allows you to redirect any oil from the oil filter away from the engine and into your drain pan, making the job just that little bit easier when it comes to the dreaded clean-up.  

Once your oil filter’s off the engine, give its mounting surface a good clean and make sure that the old filter’s o-ring hasn’t remained on the engine. Making the mistake of accidentally running two o-rings can lead to massive oil leaks.  

With the oil drained, wind the oil sump plug back in tight and spin on the fresh oil filter. It’s a good idea to give the seal of the new filter a light coat of fresh engine oil to help it seat to its mating surface on the engine block. When it comes to fitting the new oil filter, remember that it doesn’t need to be wound on with excessive force. Hand-tight is sufficient and makes your next service just that little bit easier.  

Next we’ll be looking at replacing your fuel filter. The method of replacement can differ depending on what kind of fuel filter, so find out what type of fuel filter your vehicle uses before diving in. However, there are a few steps that are generally the same across all types. First, make sure that you’re adequately equipped for the job. You’ll need basic hand tools, a rag, a container to catch any spilt fuel, and protective gear such as goggles and gloves. Remember, you’re dealing with fuel, so safety is an absolute priority.  

Before removing your old fuel filter, you’ll need to expel the fuel pressure within the system. First, locate your vehicle’s fuel pump fuse and remove it. Next, switch your engine on and leave it running. The vehicle will stall after a short amount of time as the fuel pump isn’t feeding fuel to the engine. Once this has happened, it’s time to get to work replacing the filter.  

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Once you’ve got the new filter all fitted up, all that’s left to do is bleed the fuel system. The method can vary depending on your vehicle so research and find out what works for you. 

As an added measure of preventative maintenance, a Fuel Water Separator can also be installed. This slots in before the vehicle’s factory fuel filter and acts as an added line of defence in filtering water and particulates from the fuel before it reaches the fuel filter. This is a must for hard-working vehicles, especially those fitted with common rail diesel systems and are pretty much intolerant to water and contaminants. Ryco offers easy-to-install Fuel Water Separator kits to suit a wide range of vehicles.  

With your 4WD in the air, be sure to check the condition of hard-working components such as your brakes, tyres, shock absorbers, suspension bushings etc. If you find anything that’s worse for wear, make sure to get them sorted before your next 4WD outing as these components cop a lot of stress out on the rough stuff. The last thing you want is for something to give out on a bush track, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere.  

With all of that sorted, it’s time to get your vehicle back on the ground and fill it back up with engine oil. Have a look at your vehicle handbook to find out what type of oil and how much of it your engine takes. Once you’ve got the right amount of oil in the engine, start it back up and check for any oil and fuel leaks.  

Once you’ve made sure that nothing is leaking, the next step is replacing your air filter. Depending on your vehicle this is usually a simple, straightforward process. Simply undo the clips or screws that hold in your vehicle’s intake airbox lid and remove the old air filter. With the old filter out, it’s a good idea to clean out bottom of your airbox. If you’ve got access to compressed air, this is a breeze. Just make sure to block your intake with a rag to stop any debris from getting in. With that done, it’s just a matter of refitting your new air filter and reinstalling the intake airbox lid.  

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Be sure to have a good look at the condition of your old air filter. If you frequent dusty environments out on your travels, you air filter will more than likely require more frequent changes than what might be recommended in your service manual.  

And with that, it’s your 4WD is ready to hit the road. Your 4WD is designed to work hard in a variety of conditions, which is why regular servicing is vital in making sure your 4WD is ready for the journey ahead. Vehicle servicing can be a fairly simple process for most DIY enthusiasts, however if you’re not confident be sure to take it to your local mechanic to get it sorted. And remember, settle for nothing but the best for your 4WD and opt for Ryco. 



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