Essential Track Side Repair/Maintenance Skills

Tyre being changed on a Jeep Wrangler

“Never let someone else define your adventure, or tell you how to do it. Not even us.”

This is the message we put at the beginning of each post. 

The Rough As Guts mandate is that we must always tell it like it is, regardless of popular opinion. Sometimes it may seem like we’re trying to gate keep the word “adventure” when we say things like “real four wheel driving” or “real camping”. That’s not our intent, but what we damn-sure are hell-bent on, is to make sure people are never putting their limitations on others, advising against reasonable risk and lowering the bar for people who just might have gone and done something incredible if they hadn’t been talked out of it.

Your life is your adventure. Live it however the hell you want.

Table of Contents

Essential Track Side Repair/Maintenance Skills to Know Before 4WD Touring

We’ve got an axe to grind with the advice that’s currently available about how to repair and maintain your 4WD.

According to the NRMA here’s the essential maintenance items not to overlook:

  1. Learn what your warning lights mean
  2. Watch your fuel economy
  3. Check tyre pressure
  4. Inspect tyres regularly
  5. Ensure all your lights are working
  6. Watch the wipers
  7. Rotate your tyres
  8. Replace the cabin filter
  9. Learn how to charge the battery
  10. Clean the interior and exterior
  11. Use high quality parts
  12. Don’t DIY
  13. Read the Manual

 

Man, fuck the NRMA and all the other corporates doing content marketing for the sake of it. People with a brain, and that have driven before, are trying to find real advice before a big off-road trip and this is the sort of shit that’s being spewed up and served to them.

If this sort of regurgitated crap actually enlightens anyone, then that person doesn’t need 4WD touring advice, they need live-in care. Never think that an insurance company is actually going to try and inspire you, their only objective is to minimise the amount of exposure to repair claims. Basically, it’s in their best interests to try and talk you out of having any fun.

Let’s cut through the time wasting and the “it’s dangerous to DIY” and get to some real things that will actually help you on a 4WD trip.

Those who are mechanically inclined will usually find a way to get out of a jam but regardless of your aptitude, here’s what we think is worth checking you can perform before setting off on a long or remote 4WD trip.

 

How to Plug a Tyre – Tubeless Puncture Repair

a tubeless puncture repair kit
Plug kit.

These are a temporary repair only. Some of my temporary repairs have been holding strong for several years, but I’m sure I’m supposed to tell you that a tyre that’s been repaired with this method should not be used on the road. Don’t break the rules, but here’s how I would do it.

It’s a very simple repair. Most punctures come from screws, nails etc on the road, but off-road, they’re usually from small bushes that have been hit in a bushfire and have burnt to a small sharpened stake. Watch out for the black sticks.

Strings, or plugs, whatever you like to call them, are designed for punctures through the tread only and not the sidewall. A sidewall penetration spells the end of that tyre, as any puncture or tear on this section of a radial tyre can affect the designed flexing or stability that’s essential for safe handling on the road. However, many a sidewall has been plugged for the purposes of getting off a remote track and back to where a new tyre can be bought.

 

Ream the Hole

reaming tool
Reaming tool.

I am mature enough to not make a joke about this, but just wise enough to know that life needs more jokes.

All we’re doing here is making sure the hole is big enough to be able to insert the plug without breaking it, but remaining snug.

As you no doubt already know, if you’re reaming the hole which doesn’t lube itself, you will need to apply your own… Most tubeless plug kits come with lube, but I prefer to use vulcanising fluid because it acts as a lube but ensures the highest chance of the plug chemically bonding to the rubber of the tyre. Regardless of whether you’re using the provided lube or a vulcanising fluid, it’s as simple as adding it on to the reaming tool, inserting it in the puncture hole and working it up and down a few times.

 

Insert the Plug

insertion tool for tyre repair
Insertion tool and plugs.

Grab one of the plugs/strings and feed it through the eye of the insertion tool so that the eye of the tool is halfway along the plug. Insert it into the hole about two thirds to three quarters of the way. You will have the two ends sticking out a little bit. Pull the tool out, leaving the plug in there. Some insertion tools will have a collar/flange on them so you can keep the plug pushed in while pulling out the tool.

 

Inflate the Tyre

Leaving the excess of the plug sticking out for now, re-inflate the tyre. With air back in it, check for leaks. You can add a bit of soapy water to the area to help identify any air coming out.

If there is still a leak, you will need to add another plug to the same hole.

 

Cut the Excess

Once the puncture is sealed with no air leaking, it’s simply just a matter of cutting off the excess plug still showing. This just stops it getting pulled out as you drive.

 

Freedom does not come automatically, it is achieved. And it is not gained in a single bound; it must be achieved each day”

– Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself

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