questions about off roading


had my first real off roading experience yesterday in my sportrak and loved it, got a bit scary wondering what hit the floor and stuff all the time, turned out it was mainly the tow bar which was a relief, and locking up on a 40% downhill was a bit scary but ill get over it and be there again in a months time i assume

i was wanting to give her a checkover to check nothing is damaged/waterlogged or clogged with mud or anything could anyone give me a checklist of things to check, bearing in mind im not that good with cars i know enough to do basic maintenance but no more. thanks a lot

at one point the engine cut out in water and wouldnt start till we dragged it out and let it sit for 20 mins or so what would cause this? and will being stuck in door deep water for half an hour have damaged anything (other than my amp which was under my seat Sad )?

my handbrake seems a bit weak since being there, could i have snapped the cable or be leaking fluid or somethign or could it just be that the pads / discs are coverd in mud and just need cleaning off

thanks a lot -mike

Damage levels usually depend

Damage levels usually depend on consistancy of muddy water. If it was just slightly brown water there probably is nothing to worry about. However if it was more the consistancy of slurry then you may be into troble, especially having stood in it for a while.
Anywhere that water can get in,(bell housing, axles, alternater, etc) a layer of silt can be left behind, This will dry to make a fine abrasive. Drum breakes and radiatours are another faveret for this problem. Jet washing everything out streight after playing (except the rad as you'll bend the fins and knacker it) will help.
As for cutting out in water. This is usually due to the water corsing a short in the ignition system. Wether it's earthing the sparck plugs, or the coil, or the points (if you're car isn't injected). This can be combated in several ways:
1. put the coil in a sealed plastic container (a tupperwear type box).
2. place a splash-gard of some sort over the distributer, a marigold glove with the ends of the fingers cut out workes quite well.
3. spray the whole ignition system with 'ignition sealer'. This is a arisol that leaves a waxy residu when dry.
Also you can fit an electric fan with an over-ride off switch, instead of the mecanical one. This will alow you to stop the fan pulling muddy water through the rad into the engine bay when you want too. Alternativly you can find a way to place a physical barrier in front of the rad to do a better job.
You can fit raised axle breathers (if you're car dosn't have them already) to prevent water being drawn in.
You can seal up the bell housing to protect the clutch and the starter motor, though this can prove very difficult to do properly. You can adopt the opposite aproch and remove the plate on the end of the bell housing behind the sump. This will let everything in, but will also let it drain back out again just as quickly. A good spray with the hose pipe when you get home should get any residu out.

Any veiws expresed in this thread by me are purely from my own experience, and (sometimes) falible memory. Hope my comments help, but please don't take them as gospel.