4×4 Cleaning Tips After Wheelin’ on the Beach or in Mud


So, did you have fun wheelin’?


It’s time to wash off the mess it left on your 4×4.

Keeping your 4×4 clean is real important. First it makes it easier to inspect and to spot any problems, and work on.


Helps prevent rust/corrosion.


Most of all it will allow you.  To keep your 4×4 looking good.  For many more years to come.


Ok first up,

Where, and what stuff will you need?

To start

Cleaning your 4×4

So when it comes to cleaning your off road rig. here are a couple options you might want to think about.

Some people like to buy their own pressure washer.


Just wash it off at home in their yard or driveway.  If you have plenty of room.

Using high pressure, can help ease and speed up the cleaning process vs a garden hose. By helping to work all the mud, grime, and grit loose a whole lot quicker.

Then for the the final wash down.  Use a good car wash soap.

With either a…..

Micro fiber cloth, micro fiber wash mitt.


Car wash brush or a car wash sponge. (Just make sure they’re soft enough.  And safe to use on paint, without scratching)


If you don’t want to lay on the ground.  And get all wet to get things clean up under your rig.

Adding an angled underbody lance.  To the pressure washer wand. Would, help you wash up the undercarriage, of your 4×4 a little easier.


If you want to dry your rig off.  With no water spots on your paint.   You need to get a chamois or microfiber drying towel.


While others like to go to a do it yourself carwash.  Which they are convenient.


They sure can get pricey.  To wash off your whole rig all the time.



Ok so,

Before We Get Too Far

Now, just remember if you decide to use a pressure washer. Do Not get it too close to anything.

Because, high pressure can peel paint.


Don’t get it too close to bushings, steering link joints, ball joints, cv axle boots, U joints etc.  As you can rip boots, and or force water in the joints.

Another thing I should point out is.  Do Not use a pressure washer to wash off the engine.


The plugs and seals are designed to take splashes of water but not pressure.


You do not want to force water in computers, sensors and or there connections.  Or any other electrical component, plug or light on the vehicle.


Were you wheelin’, on the beach?

How to wash your 4×4 after riding on the beach

If, you ride your 4×4 on the beach you’re going to get salt water and sand.  All over your rig.  You will want to rinse it down real good.


As soon as you can.  To remove all the salt off, because it’s very corrosive, and your 4×4 will rust up in no time. 

Flushing the inside and outside of frame.  By running the hose in the holes in the frame.  

Which are located in various places on both sides.  Make sure you wash every inch of the whole under side of body and chassis. 

Or, have you been, riding in the mud



How to wash the mud off your 4×4

When it comes to mud.  Its always a good idea.  To clean the mud off as soon as possible.  Once it dries, it becomes harder to remove.

So, if the mud has dried some.  using a pressure washer.  On the under carriage


Presoaking all the mud underneath.  On the undercarriage first, gives the mud a bit of time to loosen up.(It can be a bit tough to get off.) 


Wash the vehicle starting from the top.  Working your way back to the bottom.    


Something else to check, if you have been bogging in the mud.  

Soupy sloppy mud can work it way inside the frame.  Which if not cleaned out.  Can lead to rust problems in the frame.  

Always flush it out, until the water runs out clean (no mud)


So, here’s an

Extra Tip


If, you don’ t want to wash up under the truck.  You could put a sprinkler up under the 4×4.  Then move it every so often. And let it rinse off all the mud for you.


This is not going to get all the cracks and crevices.  But could help get the bulk off.



Wash the tires and rims 

Making sure to get all the mud off.  That could be packed up, on the the back side of them. Which, could cause, the wheel to shake, going down the road (throws the wheel out of balance).

If you haven’t already. You might want to get some tire and wheel brushes.  To help you clean the mud residue off the tire sidewalls and rims on the final wash.  


Wash the wheel wells real good.  Find all cracks and crevices and get them cleaned out.



Check the door drains

Because they can get plugged up from time to time.  And you just want to make sure they are free and clear.  So the water runs out of the doors.


Now, some tips on,

How to Clean your 4×4 Engine Bay

When it comes to washing your engine bay.

Just keep in mind. like mentioned above

Your vehicle could have just a little bit.  To a whole bunch of electrical stuff.  That, you surely DO NOT want to force water up in.  

A few examples of some things would be ECU/PCM (computers), sensors, fuse boxes, and any electrical plugs.  Or even on a gas engine.  The ignition system components coil packs/distributor cap etc.  


I should point out you want to be very cautious.  As you don’t want to get water up the air intake either.

So, if, you were to force water up in something where its not suppose to be.  It could very well cause you problems.  Like an engine miss fire or even worse not start up at all.  Or some other electrical problem.

Some vehicles can be finicky.  When it comes to water under the hood.  While others may not ever experience any problems.

So, just be careful where your putting the water.


Some owners, to be safe.  Will cover up all the sensitive ignition system, electrical components, and connections. with some plastic bags.

Which can help prevent water from getting in, or on them. (they will just wash those items by hand with a damp cloth after the fact).


Use a quality engine cleaner degreaser of your choice.  And follow the direction on the can.

You might need to take a small soft plastic bristle brush.  You can use that to work the thicker residues loose. In the hard to reach spots.

Sometimes fingernail type brushes work good for this.

Just make sure whatever brush you use it’s not too course for the surface you are trying to clean.  You don’t want to gouge or scratch anything up.


Carefully clean the engine compartment.

Then Rinsing it off with free flowing water from a garden hose. 

If your engine is real dirty.  You may have to repeat the process until you get it clean.



 Do Not put cold water on a hot engine.  You could crack engine components like exhaust manifold etc.  So, if you come in with a hot engine.  You will want to let it cool down before washing it off.

Also a good idea in general to keep cleaners/chemicals off the alternator.  Because stuff like that could cause them to prematurely fail so it’s just best avoided.


Also, don’t forget about, checking the….

Radiator, A/C condenser, and oil coolers.

As they can get plugged with mud, bugs and seeds from tall grass, and need to be cleaned out from time to time.  If you don’t, it could cause your engine to run hot from the lack of cooling efficiency, because of restricted air flow..


Another thing to look at on your 4×4.  Would be to,

Check the differential breathers.  

To make sure they’re not clogged up.


I am sure hoping, your diff breathers are high enough up, on your 4×4 already? If, you been going through deep water or mud?


Now,  Don’t forget to

Dry it off

So, after you wash it down.  Starting the engine, letting it warm up to evaporate the water.  Or even take it down the street.  To let the wind blow some of the water off.  You don’t want to leave it all wet after cleaning and let it sit.


So, if you want to help

Clean and Protect your tires

To prevent the mud from sticking to your tires as much.  Put some tire shine on your tires.


Don’t do it right as you need to leave out for the trails though.  Because the dust will stick to the tires.

It’s a good idea to apply it.  When you come back in from your trip.  And after you clean your rig up.

So it can soak in and has time to dry out some.  Before the next time you hit the trails.

It also helps to put some on your spare tire to help protect it.  From the sun drying out the rubber.


Also, you might want to put a finishing touch to….

Clean and protect the plastic

Does your vehicle have a lot of rubber and plastic on it?  You might want to get some rubber plastic restorer as well.   To help protect it. Plus it helps make it easier to clean up.



Now, for the

Final Touch

Also, when your done washing your 4×4, and it’s dry.  Spray some sort of corrosion inhibitor inside and out of frame around the vehicle.

 Some owners have had great success with lanolin products for rust prevention on the undercarriage. 

Also putting a good wax job on the paint.  Can help keep mud from sticking as easy.  Making clean up easier the next time.