This is a just brief outline of expedition vehicle preparation; there are several good books out there which cover all aspects of getting a vehicle ready for a trip. A good starting point is Chris Scott's "Overlanders' Handbook" and for more detail, Tom Shepherd's "Vehicle-Dependant Expedition Guide"
Reliability - Whatever your vehicle, reliability is essential - in the desert your vehicle is your lifeline. Less dramatically, you don't want your holiday in Europe spoilt by a preventable breakdown. Ensure your vehicle is thoroughly serviced before the trip. Ideally, at least a couple of weeks before, so that any identified faults can be rectified. Make sure whoever services your vehicle understands where you're intending to go.
Tyres - Make sure your tyres are up to the job. Quality all-terrain tyres are a good choice and will cope well with all of the terrain you're likely to encounter. BF Goodrich A/Ts are popular and have good characteristics. Look for good sidewall protection and high load capacity.
As long as you've covered the basics, you don't need to spend a fortune on preparing your vehicle. However, you can make yourself a lot more comfortable and you'll enjoy the journey more if your vehicle set-up is efficient. Easy to use storage systems will keep your vehicle well-organised and you'll spend less time searching the back of your car for bits of gear. Fridges and cooking facilities provide creature comforts, making it easier to have a quick cup of tea or a proper meal at the end of a day's drive.
It may be beneficial to you to take your vehicle on a dry run, like one of our Wessex Wander weekends where the vehicle will get a chance to work in an environment that is different to the day-to-day running your vehicle would normally experience.
Also it is important when travelling to the starting point of your trip to make sure you stop regularly when traversing whole countries like France or Spain, as many hours on the road will heat up various parts of the transmission that wouldn't normally be subject of this kind of long running, as this can expose weaknesses in seals and other parts of the transmission, So when you're travelling these long distances it is important to stop regularly for comfort breaks for not only you, but to allow the vehicle to cool down.
From time to time we will provide links to 4x4 suppliers that have particularly impressed us with their products and/or service.
Autohome Roof Tents - BOAB - www.boab.biz
Mobile Refrigeration - MPS - www.mps4x4store.co.uk
Winches and winch parts - Goodwinch - www.goodwinch.com
Land Rover servicing - Bishops 4x4 - www.bishops4x4.co.uk
Vehicle preparation - Nene Overland - www.neneoverland.co.uk