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How to Clean a Muddy 4×4

Photo by Lorado via iStock

You’ve spent the weekend off-roading with your buddies and having a great time. But now as you head home on a Sunday afternoon, a big task awaits you – you need to clean a muddy 4×4!

Personally, I really enjoy cleaning my truck after a good off-road session. There’s something really satisfying about peeling back all the layers of gunk and ending up with a sparkling vehicle once again.

But there are right and wrong ways to clean a muddy 4×4. In today’s article, we’ll share a few tips and tricks that will help you get ‘er done right.

How to Clean a Muddy 4×4: You Need High Water Pressure

Muddy 4x4 on a muddy road

Photo by nuwatphoto via iStock

A garden hose and a traditional sprayer aren’t going to give you the water pressure that you need to get all the mud off your rig. This means you’ll either need to head to the local car wash or invest in a pressure washer that you can use at home.

There are benefits and detriments to both options. The car wash can really add up in terms of expense, and you might find that you have to wait in line before you can start washing your vehicle. But, the advantage is that when you’re done, you leave all the mess behind for someone else to clean up.

 

How To Clean A Muddy 4x4 You Need High Water Pressure 2

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Using a pressure washer at home flips the script. There’s no worry about long lines (or people waiting impatiently for you to be done). And while there’s more expense upfront, in the long-term a pressure washer will save you money since you won’t need to visit the car wash ever again. Of course, all that mud that comes off your 4×4 will end up in your driveway, so there’s that mess to contend with as well.

Whichever way you go, a car wash or pressure washer will give you the juice you need to get the gunk off your truck.

Pro Tip: Don’t hold the hose nozzle too close to your vehicle when it’s under high pressure. That jet of water can damage the paint to the point of making it chip and flake. And once that paint is gone, the likelihood of rust forming goes up.

Get Ready to Get Down and Dirty

Power washing a muddy tire from a 4x4

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To clean a muddy 4×4 requires that you be okay with getting down on your hands and knees and get that soap and water into every nook and cranny of your vehicle.

Let’s talk about the wheel arches first…

Get the tip of the nozzle inside the wheel arches and use a back and forth motion to work the mud free starting at the top and then working your way down either side. Don’t be afraid to really get in there – mud likes to hide in there, especially along the inside of the fenders.

person cleaning a tire with a sponge

Photo by Vera_Petrunina via iStock

Get the nozzle behind the tires and wheels, too. Hose off the suspension components, rear axle, exhaust, and so forth, ensuring that all those chunks of dirt, mud, and rocks are gone.

Give your wheels and tires a thorough washing as well. Again, get the spray nozzle close (but not too close) to the wheels starting at the top and working your way around and down to the bottom of the wheels. This isn’t just to make them look pretty, either. Getting rid of all that gunk will help the wheels turn as they should.

Learn More:

How to Clean a Muddy 4×4: Don’t Forget the Door Drain Holes

As you navigate muddy off-road trails, the drain holes in the bottom of your vehicle’s doors are likely to become clogged. Clogged drain holes prevent the mud, dirt, water, and other debris from draining out of the door seal. That is a scenario that’s just asking for rust to occur.

So, open those doors and clean out those drain holes so they can work properly. While you’re at it, you’ll probably find that mud has accumulated along the rocker panels. If so, hose it off or wipe it off.

person cleaning a steering wheel

Photo by DjelicS via iStock

Pro Tip: If you have an air compressor, use the hose to blow out dirt and dust from the interior of your vehicle, particularly the air vents. Once that’s done, do a thorough vacuuming of the cabin, wipe down the dashboard, console, and other surfaces, and use auto glass cleaner on the interior and exterior glass to make it shine.

Degrease the Engine

engine getting degreased

Photo by mustafagull via iStock

A final part of your mission to clean a muddy 4×4 is to degrease the engine.

All that mud, dirt, and grime can be hard to remove from the engine bay, but it is critical that you do so. Degreaser can help with that.

Degreaser gently dissolves gunk from the engine bay, making it far easier to remove fluids and stains with a low-pressure wash. The key here is low-pressure. There are delicate connections and sensitive components in the engine bay that can be damaged with a high-pressure stream.

As with all the other parts of your 4×4, the engine needs to be clean to perform at its best. By taking the time to give it a thorough washing, you’ll keep the engine and the rest of your vehicle’s system in tip-top shape.

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