In my opinion, the most likely culprit if something goes wrong on a trip is the vehicle. Off road use inevitably is harder on the vehicle and the passengers than plain tar roads and older vehicles are a little more prone to failures than brand new ones. In most cases, it would be minor things that fails, but even minor things could have you totally stranded, if you are not prepared.

If you want to do solo vehicle trips, you better be able to do more than an oil change and spark plugsĀ replacement. A good workshop manual of your vehicle is key. The most common, reasonably good manual for most cars are the Haynes Manuals. However, in some cases, like with Land Rovers, one can actually buy the original factory manuals and obviously, this is highly recommended.

To learn your way around your vehicle, there is no other way than to take up the tools and do some stripping. What I did with all my 4x4's was to remove the engine and gearboxes and replace everything that was starting to show some wear. On my Discovery, I had all the oil leaks on the gearboxes repaired, I had the synchronisers and the bearing on the R380 box replaced, the engine mountings was renewed as well a the clutch, all the radiator pipes, some wires and all the rubber hydraulic pipes. I also serviced the radiator, replaced the thermostat with a genuine part as well as the viscous coupling. For R 15 000, I reckon it is better insurance than anything else on offer.

I would recommended to anyone who needs a reliable older vehicle, to do such a major type of service at every 200 000 kms. At the very least, replace every single rubber item like the pipes, the mountings, and the belts and then attend to all small oil leaks. Have the cooling system fully serviced and replace the thermostat, radiator cap and the viscous coupling. Those are the cheap items that ultimately fails and cause major damage to a motor that would have lasted another 200 000 km. It is a fraction of the cost of a major engine overhaul or a ruined holiday, on top of it.

I would recommend you should at least be able to do the following on a trip:

  1. Replace brake pads.

  2. Replace fan belts and tensioners.

  3. Remove, disassemble and replace starter motor brushes.

  4. Remove, disassemble and replace alternator bearings and regulators, or have a spare alternator.

  5. Remove and repair brake and clutch master and slave cylinders and know how to bleed the system.

  6. Remove and replace wheel bearings and know how to tension a bearing.

  7. Know how to sort out fuel and ignition related problems.

  8. Know how to bypass the immobiliser, or have it removed permanently.