If you are a person that is quite fond of taking an adventurous trip, there is a pretty good chance that you are a person that is fond of off road driving as well.
Unfortunately, off road driving is nothing like driving on the tarmac or asphalt road surface. Therefore, you need to have a car with off road capability. In addition to that, you will also have to know well how to drive off road. Otherwise, you will most likely find yourself stuck without being able to move forward since off road tracks are not so easy to handle.
Love your vehicle and get to know it better
The first thing that is of utmost importance is that you get a close relationship with your vehicle. This way, you will understand clearly what kind of driving mode it has to offer you. Most of the time, you can find this out on the driver’s manual.
You need to be sure whether your vehicle is the one that offers 4WD driving mode at all times or the one that offers you the possibility to switch back and forth between 4WD and 2WD driving mode.
You are lucky enough if you get the latter option. This way, you can save your fuel — which also means saving more money — when you use your car for daily driving.
Then, another thing you need to check as well with regards to your car is whether or not it comes with free wheeling hubs. If it does, you need to examine how you can possibly engage the hubs. Also, you are likely to be better off with low ratio transmission.
Steep hills to conquer
One quite well known hazard and possibly the most risky one when it comes to off road driving is often the steep inclines. If you get things wrong, accident is pretty sure to come your way.
In order to conquer steep inclines, you need to go straight upward or downward the steep hills. Also, before you get to the top of the steep hills, it is very important for you to make sure that you are going to get a clear exit when you finally reach the top of the hills.
To do this, you need to count on the low ratio as well as the second gear. Then, take advantage of a pretty short run upwards to give yourself a little momentum. Make sure you drive your vehicle no faster than the walking pace.
One mistake you should never attempt while driving up such hills is to switch your direction or gear. In addition to that, you should anticipate sight loss since what you will most likely see while driving uphill is the blue sky. In fact, this is why you need to check the top of the hill before you reach it in the first place.
Now, another thing to be aware of is incident. You will never know when an incident may take place. So, in the event you happen to lose forward momentum, brake your vehicle and hold it steady and switch to the reverse gear at once.
Afterwards, allow the engine braking control to take over while you descend. What you should do now is to hold your steering wheel and look back over your left shoulder to prevent oversteering and knocking over obstructions. Remember not to use accelerator in such a case.
When you have successfully reached the top of the steep hills, now is the time to go downwards. This time, you will need low ratio along with the first gear. Just like before, make sure you have first checked the terrain ahead of you. But this time, you need to estimate whether or not the hill is too steep that it will bury the front part of your vehicle in it.
When everything is checked, let go of the pedals. All you need to count on now is the engine braking system to take you down the steep hills at a constant speed. You only need to make sure you are going down in a straight direction.
Also, avoid any side slopes. Maintain as low down any slopes as you can. If you think you are about to come across a problem, prepare for a downhill turn at once but don’t do it if you are not quite sure about it.
Mounds and ditches to tackle
Speaking of mounds or ditches, approach them at an angle. This is to make it possible for each of your vehicle wheels to tackle them individually. This maximizes the ground clearance you have with you.
However, be informed that if the mounds or ditches prove to be too severe, your vehicle may experience cross-axled. This is a condition in which the wheels that opposite diagonally come clear off the ground. As a result, you will no longer be able to drive your vehicle. And, as you may have guessed, you will have to tow it home.
Traversing ruts and mud
If you think you are approaching ruts that are deeper compared to the ground clearance of your vehicle, you had better straddle them otherwise you will get stuck. But if they are quite shallow, you can easily follow them. In such cases, there are chances the steering wheel may suddenly spin so it is best to avoid your thumbs getting injured due to it.
If you are approaching mud, on the other hand, you need to build up a little speed before you actually come across the mud. When your vehicle makes contact with the mud, quickly decelerate. Maintain your current gear and drive as straight as possible heading to the firmer part of the nearest ground. If something goes wrong, never hesitate to reverse right away. If you find your vehicle wheels clogged the time your vehicle exits the mud, simply clean the wheel treads and try to restore traction.
It is normal for most 4WD vehicles to tackle water up to quite a few feet deep. However, it is always a wise idea to estimate how firm the underlying surface can be prior to crossing the water.
Therefore, you should never attempt to drive too fast while crossing the water. Instead, drive steadily to not flood your vehicle engine and also to minimize possible drag. Then, when you come out of the water, remember to always drive short with the brake slightly pressed so that the braking system efficiency has a chance to restore.
Off road tyre pressures
In most cases, tyre pressures for tarmac driving will also do for off road driving. But if it is really muddy and the traction is really low, slightly lower tyre pressures will provide better grip. Use extreme caution, though, because really low pressures may trigger a tyre to demount the rim.
Therefore, always re-inflate those tyres to their correct pressures while making a return to the tarmac. Beware of injuries due to under inflation.