Off-road driving can be a great buddy or family fun adventure, but knowing the abilities and limitations of yourself and your vehicle is very crucial when heading out touring with your 4wd. Scratching and damaging the body of your 4wd is not acceptable for most 4wders and in order to go offroad without breaking your SUV, you need to know a few tips and tricks of the trade!

  1. Understand your Vehicle. Read your vehicle owners manual before you take your SUV off road. Learn the functions of your vehicle and what each button does. You should be well aware of your vehicle’s power, capability & limitations.

  2. Check your Vehicle. Thoroughly check your vehicle’s condition before you venture off-road. Different Oil-Levels, battery condition, different mounts, break’s condition, wiper washer water, coolant level & other general checkup is a must before start.

  3. Check your Tyres. Tyres are one of the most important part of any off-road journey and often the key differentiators between a happy experience & not so good one. Ensure the right off-road capable tyres with correct pattern & compound. Also check tyre condition, which should not be worn out & treads should be good.

  4. Check your Tools. It is also termed as preparing your recovery. Ensure that you are having right tools in you vehicle for hitting off-road trails. Essentials for normal off-roading include tyre-changing equipment, tow strap, air compressor, a small wooden hard board, jump start wire etc. You may also need special tools like a snow chain (for snow), snorkel (for water wading or river crossing), winch (extreme climbing) etc.

  5. Be Ready for Worst Case Scenario. You never know what are you going to face, so prepare for worst case scenario. Be prepared with emergency stuff like drinking water, emergency ration, first aid kit, cell phone, gps trackers etc.

  6. Never go out alone. Even a short trip could end up being costly if you make a mistake. You can’t foresee everything that might go wrong, but being prepared with recovery equipment and a maintained vehicle will help. But think about being offroad by yourself and you have an accident or your vehicle breaks down or someone is injured… what do you do next? With another vehicle, your chances of getting home safely are greatly improved.

  7. Have a Plan. Whenever you are venturing out for off-roading, have a clear plan among your group. Plan difficulty level, distances, durations, group formations, spotter signals, group communication etc well & in advance.

  8. Research the area & Know the Terrain. Check out the area you’re planning to attempt. Ask about the conditions of the tracks in the area and know the terrain you are going to face. It is great to know in advance if you going to face slush or rocks or what else.

  9. Check the weather. Make sure you don’t get caught out in a massive thunder storm in a creek bed that is now flooding. Many have been caught out by unexpected sudden fast flowing water during the rains.

  10. Analyse the Trail. Before entering a trail, or a challenge it is usually very helpful to have a quick walk to check out the condition of the track, even if partial if cannot be complete. It could save you hours of recovery time or worse, damaging your 4wd.

  11. Know your ground clearance. This may take some experience off road, but you should know where the lowest point of your vehicle is. This can help you avoid larger obstacles off road and keep the underbody of your vehicle from grinding you to a halt.

  12. Know your angles. Knowledge of your approach angle, break over and departure angle clearances will enable you to negotiate obstacles a lot easier off road.

  13. Know your size. Know your SUV’s height and width. Will your vehicle clear the narrow clearings or overhanging trees? If not, don’t venture down the track to check a trail or challenge before attempting it.

  14. Know your 4wd system. Make sure you know about the diffs and transfer case of your 4wd. Is it electronically controlled? Do you have traction control? Are there lockers or an LSD in the diff? If your do not know, look manual, online or ask other owners of the same vehicle about these features.

  15. Seating position is important. When offroad, sit in a relaxed upright position with a loose steering wheel grip taking care not to place your thumbs in the centre section. This will allow you to drive comfortably with less strain on your back. You will avoid hurting your thumbs should the steering wheel pull voilently to one side as you travel over a rock or rut.

  16. Engage low-range before you need it. Or use the lowest Gear possible. On vehicles fitted with a center diff lock, this should be disengaged once traction is regained. Low range should be kept engaged until clear of all hazards.

  17. Lower your tyre pressures. Always lower your tyre pressures before entering an off road situation. If conditions are soft or boggy this is especially important. Lower tyre pressures also help prevent tyre punctures from sharp rocks.

  18. Use a spotter. Have one of your fellow off-roader as companion to help you over difficult terrain. Often a spotter can see and prevent damage on your vehicle before you can. They can help you place your wheels effectively for the best traction.

  19. As Slow as Possible, As Fast as Required. The key to successful & enjoyable off-roading is this principle. It is important to not rush through off-road trails and maintain an optimum speed. While too slow kill the momentum, too fast usually results in lost traction & vehicle damage. Finding that right balance is the key.

  20. Apply small amounts of throttle. Care should always be taken when applying the throttle. Excess right foot can cause you to spin the wheels and get stuck by digging you in further.

  21. Maintain momentum. Momentum will help you overcome the drag on your tyres from soft ground such as sand or mud. This can help you from getting stuck when it is clear there are no obstacles for you to damage your vehicle on.
  22. Stayintheruts. This is important to minimise environmental impact as well as keeping your vehicle from lifting wheels and losing traction.

  23. Walk the water crossing before driving it. Always test the depth of water crossing situations. Walking a crossing can show you where large obstacles like rocks can be found under the water level. The maximum depth you should be crossing is approximately 20 inches or the depth of half your wheel height.

  24. Protect your brakes. Make sure they are dry after a water crossing before proceeding. When travelling down hill, make sure not to apply them too much as to overheat them.

  25. Practise safe recovery techniques. Should you get stuck, plan out your recovery before going ahead and doing it. Make sure all persons are clear of the recovery before proceeding. If jacking is required, make sure the vehicle is supported before working on it. For safe recovery why not try out Tough Tracks.

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We are an experiential marketing agency with a knack for fresh ideas, a passion for great adventures, and a vision to realize perfect experiences for clients.

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