Do your homework: A guide to rallycross off-season maintenance

It can be hard to take care of the little things on your rally car during the race season – much of your time is spent racing, on the road to races and much of your money is going toward entry fees, transport and needed repairs.  The off-season is a great time to slow down and give your car the TLC it needs.  Spend some time looking over your car and proactively replacing parts so you have less to worry about once your race season gets back into full swing.

Start with a Thorough Inspection

Before you tear anything apart, start with giving your car a good once-over.  With the wear and tear you’ve put on it throughout the year, it’s important to take inventory of overall condition, heavy wear areas and identify any issues you weren’t expecting.  Take the time to check that every nut and bolt is tight and replace those that take a consistent beating.  It is amazing how much can rattle loose… even your seats!

Key items to check:

·      Wheel bearings

·      Ball joints

·      Shocks

·      Struts

·      Skid plates & underbody plastics, playing close attention to the mounts. These can take the brunt of rough terrain and proactively replacing their bolts is a good idea.

·      Rims – Check for bends and if needed, have them straightened by a professional.

Basic Maintenance

While it is not the most exciting work you can do, taking care of your car’s basic needs will go a long way in making sure you’re well set up for next season. Your maintenance should include:

Replacing:

·      Spark plugs

·      Air filter

·      Ignition components 

Fluids:

·      Standard oil change

·      Change gear box fluids (transmission, differential, transfer case). The dirty, dusty and wet rallycross conditions make it easy for contaminants to get into your fluids.

Brakes:

·      Pad thickness

·      Rotor wear

·      Rotor trueness - make sure the rotor hasn’t warped

Check Your Safety Equipment 

Your safety gear comes with an expiration date and showing up with out of date gear can make you ineligible to race. The holidays are a great time to score deals on new gear so don’t wait until the last minute to replace yours.  The two main items you want to check are:

·      Helmets: Must be SA/M 2005 or newer for rallycross and SA/M 2010 or newer for rallysprint.

·      Harnesses: Each harness has a tag with an expiration date. Take a look at yours and take note of how much longer you will be able to use it for racing.

Take your time and be thorough in your maintenance.  You will be much happier if you do your homework – you will have fewer issues and surprises during the season.  Once you have taken care of the basics, you can spend some time making larger repairs, upgrades and improvements.


 

Katie Lobkovich