With the warm weather here and the rain coming and going it’s that time where we take our vehicles into the mud and the woods. If you are a newbie at off-roading, check out these tips to make sure you have the best experience possible.
- Always pack recovery gear! This in my opinion is the most important thing to do. One thing to always keep in the back of your truck or Jeep or whatever vehicle you may be using is a tow rope! Chances are, you will get stuck. If you are going out with friends, you can have one of them pull you out using the tow rope, or if your by yourself, you can use it to wrap around a tree and try to pull yourself out. (If you plan on going out by yourself often, I would suggest investing in a winch.)
- Never floor it when you get stuck! Again, chances are you will get stuck in the sand, mud, snow, or whatever terrain you are on. If you are new to taking your vehicle off the road your first instinct may be to hit the gas when you start to sink or get stuck, this is the worst thing you can do. By hitting the gas you are just making your tires spin faster creating deeper ruts that will make it much harder to rock your way out. Instead of putting the pedal to the metal, try downshifting if you can and pressing very lightly on the gas with traction control on, if you have that option. Downshifting will help your tires spin slower where traction control will help them grip onto something hopefully.
- Lower your tire pressure. If you are going somewhere that you are going to have to go over fallen trees, or rocks, it is a good idea to deflate your tires a little bit. This will help your tires grip onto the things you are trying to climb and will also reduce your chances of popping a tire.
- Scout out whats ahead! This is especially important if you are exploring somewhere new. If you are going up a hill or simply can’t see whats ahead, get out of your vehicle and check to see what is up ahead so that you are prepared for it.
- Check the depth of the water BEFORE you try to cross it. With rain and runoff, a body of water that you crossed with ease last year may not be as easy this year. Also, looks can often times be deceiving. My advice is to always get out and check to see how deep the water is before you drown your vehicle.
- Know when to use traction control! Some people think that no matter what, their traction control should be on….WRONG! If you are on snow or trying to climb things, then yes, keep your traction control on. However, if you are in sand or mud, keep it off. Reason being, when trying to get through mud and sand you need to keep momentum going and traction control can make this difficult and can actually cause you to get stuck.
- Always put your vehicle into neutral BEFORE going into 4-low. Many vehicle will not allow you to switch into 4-low without being in neutral. If yours does not require this, make sure you still do it. Going into 4-low is essentially the same as shifting gears. You want to make sure that you start off in neutral.
- Inspect your vehicle before you go home! If you spent some time in the woods, sand, etc, its a good idea to check your vehicle after you are done exploring. Look for branches caught in you undercarriage, mud or water near your radiator, cracks or broken parts on your vehicle and more.
For more information on what not to do please watch this video.
If you have any questions or tips of your own, please leave them in a comment below.