Driving off-road is tons of fun, but after it’s over and you’re back on solid ground, it’s time to clean up and preserve your ride for the next bout of mud. For some off-roaders, a truck full of caked on mud is a badge of honor for all to see, but if you let that badge bake on in the sun, it’s going to be hard to get off without ruining the paint job underneath.
Check Your Tyres
After splashing through the mud and driving over bumps and ditches, your tyre pressure could be a little worse for the wear. Check your tyres for cuts, missing lugs, and low pressure, and repair them as necessary. To do this properly, you may need to scrub your wheels with a brush and some good old fashioned soapy water.
Once you know your tyres are in good shape, polish them with wheel cleaner and protector and let them dry to a clean black sheen.
Pressure Wash The Body
Pressure washers are available at many home hardware and auto shops for a reasonable price. Some run as high as $400-$500, but you can get generic brands for under $100 if you’re willing to hunt. This is a good investment if you off-road a lot, especially during rainy seasons when mud is at its worst.
A pressure washer can take off most of the hardened muck, and get into hard to reach areas where a soapy bucket just can’t get to. Watch the pressure level so that you don’t accidentally take of any paint. If you have areas which are chipping or rusting, you should clean around them carefully and get them sanded, painted, and cleared before you next ride to avoid more damage.
Get Under the Hood
You may not want your engine to get dirty, but muddin’ includes a lot of splashing and unexpected mess. Even beneath the protection of your hood, there could be some residue to remove. Be extra careful around the filter and any electronics; cover areas which should remain dry with plastic bags or cling wrap and use a low setting on your hose, a microfiber cloth, and a towel to get the job done. In a pinch, an old tooth brush can help dig out dried mud from small crevices.
Your transmission is covered, but could take some bangs due to rocks and debris. Look for damage and check fluid to determine that no contamination has occurred. Discoloration in the transmission fluid means that water and muck has gotten in, and it needs to be changed as soon as possible.
Give It a Once Over
After everything is mud free and gleaming once more, give your vehicle one last look over for dirt or damage in grooves and seams. Try your best to get rid of all the mud you can, especially if it looks like it has rocks or twigs in it, as this could scratch your paint job.
Wax On – Wax Off
If you really want to go that extra mile, or you want to hide the fact that you’ve been out in the woods for the weekend, give that clean vehicle a coat of wax. You can buff this product in with a microfiber cloth yourself by hand, or buy a buffer from a local automotive store. This is how you take your truck from road warrior to night on the town in a matter of hours.
Keeping Up Appearances
It might seem fool hardy to clean a muddy pick-up after a drive through the mud, especially if you’re going back for more tomorrow, but it can prolong the life of your vehicle. If you’re unsure of where to start, or you don’t have the right tools at home to get the job done, take your vehicle to a self-wash carwash station. These stations have wash bays where you can insert money to use the hoses and pressure washing system to clean your vehicle. As an added bonus, you don’t end up washing all that unwanted muck into your own driveway.