Car's Regular Service
In addition to cleaning up your car regularly, it’s good to do a more thorough inspection approximately once a month. The inspection does not differ much from basic maintenance, but requires removing components and inspecting them more thoroughly.
After cleaning the car, place the vehicle on a work stand so that maintenance is easier to carry out and you can have a better look at the movements of the spring suspension and steering.
Press on the shock absorbers and listen for if there is still oil left in them. If the shock absorber makes a sound like it was taking air in, you need to add more oil. The oils should be replaced 2–3 times during the season even if they weren’t leaking. The oil loses its qualities in use and basically the shock absorbing quality decreases.
Next, check that the hinge pins and suspension arms can move freely. You can free the movement of the suspension arms by removing the shock absorbers. When the shock absorbers are removed, lift each suspension arm with your finger and let them fall down. Their movement should be completely resistant-free. If you’ve got a sway bar in your car, it’ll try to lift the other suspension arm when you lift one of them. The sway bar must also move freely and it must not impede resistant-free movement of the suspension arm.
If the movement seems slow or limited, you need to find out what’s causing it. The most common explanation is the inner hinge pin of the suspension arm that sometimes get bent in collisions. To access the hinge pin, remove the bumper. The hinge pins can be removed by pulling while simultaneously spinning them. You can see if the pin is straight by rolling it on the desk.
If it’s straight, but the suspension arm movement is limited, you can make the hole on the arm bigger with a tool (a reamer, can be ordered separately), that is designed to remove dirt from the suspension arm hole and make the arms move more freely.
At the rear of the car, there’s another hinge pin at the end of the hub that may be bent or broken. It’s good to check the outer hinge pin as well, if there’s noticeable play or limited movement in the hub.
In the front, there are hinge pins in the inner side of upper and lower suspension arms, so check both of them when necessary.
The steering blocks in the front are the pivot type, so they are fastened with ball joints both at the low and upper ends. This improves the steering of the car. It’s good to clean the pivot-joints properly and regularly to avoid untimely wearing out. It’s essential to clean and check the tightness of the joint from time to time. The joint must move freely and with as little play as possible. You can adjust the play by loosening and tightening the wheel hub.
While inspecting the hubs, check the shock absorbers for oil leaks. If either end of the shock absorber is visibly wet, try to tighten the caps. Remove the rubber at the lower end so that you can see the gasket and the possible leakage.
The most important parts of the drivetrain to inspect are the bearings. Start by taking the pinion gear off the motor axle. Next, check all the wheel hub bearings separately.
Start by removing the upper link of the suspension from either end. Now you can bend the hub upwards to free the driving axle and you can spin the wheel axle alone. If the axle doesn’t spin freely, check if there is hay/grass spun around the axle and remove them. If necessary, replace the bearing with a new one. After the inspection put the driving axle back and move on to the next wheel.
In the front end, inspecting the bearings requires a bit more work but it’s very important to check them as well. Freeing the upper suspension arm requires removing the front shock tower, so that the upper hinge pin is loose and allows the driving axle to be removed from the outdrive. You can spin the bearings on the driving axle and when necessary replace them or clean them.
Tip! Check the wheel hub bearings also while inspecting the hinge pins. Checking the bearings doesn’t take a lot of time.
After inspecting the wheel bearings, make sure that the drivetrain rolls freely. With the vehicle on the work stand and the pinion taken off, there should be no resistance in the drivetrain when spinning both rear axles simultaneously. All the four axles should spin to the same direction when spinning the others at one end.
If you notice that one of the wheels doesn’t spin to the same direction or not at all, something is not right. If one end of the car spins to the opposite direction to where you’re spinning it, check the bearings in the center diff and that they’re working correctly.
Also check the differential for leakages. If there’s oil around the outdrives in the front and rear differential, then servicing the diff is required as well as replacing the seals. Checking the center diff is easier because you can see it in its entirety.
All these steps don’t take much more time than basic maintenance, but affect the performance of the car and help to keep damages from building up. Checking the suspension in particular is something you don’t want to skip, as it significantly affects the handling of the car.