Okay, so “evil” is probably a little strong, but no less of a pain in the ass. See, I have a Jeep Wrangler that I use for everything; road trips, getting me to and from the mountain bike trails, exploring off road areas and of course, her main role as my daily driver.
To ensure we always make it home from our adventures, routine tasks must be part of our regular maintenance program. One area to pay particularly close attention is the four wheel drive system (4WD). If we are out and about and have a problem with the 4WD system, that could mean the difference between an epic adventure and an event you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. For most people, four wheel drive is not utilized nearly as much as two wheel drive, and for this reason, I like to use the four wheel drive system every so often to ensure the internals in the front end stay properly lubricated. That in itself is not the necessary evil, but bear with me, I’m getting to it.
Living in Centeral Florida does not lend itself to using 4WD frequently unless you are out in the boonies. However, I don’t live in the boonies and the HOA (Home Owners Association) would have a stroke if I started driving the Jeep through the neighborhood up and over curbs and shrubs just so I can engage the 4WD system. The closest place I can go that is both fun and paramount to the health of the HOA, is the Ocala National Forest. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Ocala area and I particularly love the forest, it’s just that the forest is about an hour and a half away, longer than I want to drive just to use the 4WD system for a few miles. As luck would have it, just west of I-95 between Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach lies the Tiger Bay Wildlife Management Area. Tiger Bay is an area that provides small game hunting, bird watching, hiking, fishing, primitive camping, etc. It also provides dirt roads, perfect for someone who wishes to drive around for a few miles in 4WD!
My wife and I had lunch in Daytona, ran to the mall so I could get socks, then decided to drive through Tiger Bay on the way home so we could play around for a few miles in 4WD. Typically, this time of year is pretty dry. Warm, but not blazing hot like it is in the summer, which is usually nine or so months out of the year in Florida. Our plan was to be able drive off road for a few miles and not get too dirty, then get on with the rest of our day. This is the part where the necessary evil enters the picture. Rain. It started raining just as we turned on to US Highway 92 heading towards the Tiger Bay WMA. Add water to dirt and you get mud and slop. Nothing to concerning in a Jeep with 4WD, but when it has only been raining for a short time, the water doesn’t have time to seep into the earth and therefore only soaks the top layer of soil. The tires were all too happy to display their Picasso-like talent all over the side of the Jeep. It actually resembles the mud splash decals you can purchase online for that “off road” look, but I assure you, this was an authentic piece.
An hour of fun driving in the rain and slop translates into several hours laying under the Jeep making sure all of the mud is washed off before it cakes up and dries. Wheels, springs, shocks, drive shafts, fenders, lights, etc, are all areas you most likely don’t want piles of mud hanging out for days or even weeks. When it comes to playing off road, you have to take the good with the bad. Sometimes you get lucky and things just gets a little dusty and other times, you have to lay under the Jeep for an hour or more cleaning mud out of areas you never knew where there. It’s a necessary evil, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.