How to avoid getting stuck on the trail

So, you are following your buddy’s Jeep down a dirt road some twenty miles from a highway when all of a sudden you hear a big CLANK and you can no longer steer your Jeep.

What to do?

You were smart enough not to go off-roading alone just in case you have a problem but what other preparations did you make? Are you an experienced mechanic? Are you one of those that can fix anything? Do you have the necessary tools with you? What if you need some replacement parts?

You can try calling the Auto Club but good luck getting them to come to you when you are twenty miles off-road.

So, here are your options:

  1. Hop in your buddy’s car and head for home. You can come back tomorrow with someone that can fix your problem and get you back on the highway.
  2. Determine what the problem is and attempt a temporary fix to get you home.
  3. Push your car over the edge!

The best solution, if you have some basic tools and supplies, is to attempt a temporary fix.

Personally, the cars today are too complex for me to work on very much. When I was in high school, I drove an old Plymouth with a flat head six and a stick shift . . . .anybody could work on that car because it was so simple. But today, I leave the fixes to the pros. I do, however, carry some basic tools and some miscellaneous stuff that might just be enough to do the temp fix and get me going. Many serious off-roaders carry a complete workshop in their Jeeps including air tools that run off a compressor and welders that run off the alternator. Not me. Here are a few of the things that I do carry.

Basic tools In one bag I carry some basic tools that can jury rig a few things and these few tools have gotten me home a couple of times. I carry a few different size screw drivers, some open end wrenches, a pair of pliers, knife, tape measure, key hole saw, a multi-meter, light weight jumper cables, and maybe the most important item, a sledge hammer. Sometimes the best solution is to just beat it back into place!

Repair stuffIn a second bag I carry a bunch of miscellaneous stuff that may just come in handy. Bailing wire should be in every kit as should duct tape, WD-40, a selection of nuts and bolts, hose clamps, tie down straps, zip ties, and my favorite J.B. Weld. And don’t forget a tire repair kit.

I remember on one trip on a backroad in Montana that, after stopping for a couple of hours, the rig would not even turn over. Dead battery? Solenoid? Luckily I had my trusty pocket Leatherman with me so I banged on everything that I could find and tightened every electrical connection that I could find. Sure enough, under the rig on the starter motor, I found a loose connection which was easily tightened with the Leatherman and we were on our way. I always thought that I should call Leatherman and try to sell them my story. Never did.

The point is: Be prepared to try something before you abandon your Jeep and never go off-roading alone. You never know when you may need a ride home from some distant spot!

Have fun!

Vern

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