Off-roading sounds thrilling, fun, and adventurous, especially with a group of friends or family. If you are an off-road enthusiast, you should also be certain of your limitations which will help you avoid any judgment mistake. If you wish to off-road without scratching or damaging your 4X4 as well as avoid risking your lives, here are a few essential tips to take into consideration.
This is obvious, as you are driving your 4x4 vehicle on difficult terrains, you should always know its limitations and functionalities before your adventure begins. We further would suggest you use your vehicle for a few months and get comfortable with its buttons and pedals before you take it off-road. Even if you are an expert off-road driver, it takes some time to get used to driving a new vehicle, and taking it off-road without doing so can get risky. For more information about 4WD vehicles.
You are going to drive on rough and unknown terrain. Off-roading is always new, even if you have done the same route several times as terrains do not remain the same. Make sure to get your 4x4 vehicle inspected before you leave. Do an oil change check brake pads and fluids. Carry enough consumable as well for unpredictable events when you may get stuck and need to wait for help.
If you have a clutch pedal, keep your foot off it during off-roading unless you need to change gears. Instead, place your foot on the dead pedal as the movement of the vehicle can let you accidentally press the pedal to balance your body.
Off-roading always comes with a risk, which is why it is better to have another 4x4 vehicle along rather than doing it alone. Imagine situations where you may face a tyre change situation, accident, or failure of the vehicle. It is always better with another vehicle available at your disposal to make sure you reach back home safely.
4x4 Off-roading can be rough, and put a lot of strain on your back, so always wear the seat belt and sit in an upright position, but relaxed and holding the steering loose so you do not hurt yourself during the bumps.
You should really have a good judgment of your 4X4's width and height to know its clearing height and width when you pass below overhanging trees or pass down narrow tracks.
You should gain enough experience to judge the lowest point of your 4x4 vehicle in cases where there are large obstacles that you need to cross. You do not want anything hitting the bottom of your vehicle hard causing serious damage.
Off-roading in bad weather is a not a great idea as your judgment becomes poor when your visibility reduces. Off-roading can be dangerous in normal conditions, without 100% visibility, you should not really think of trying it. Hence always make sure to know the weather forecast beforehand to avoid getting stuck in a thunderstorm.
Just blindly off-roading any area is a bad idea. Research your intended route well to know the condition of the tracks. Check out online reviews or take a quick hike to see the layout of the track for yourself.
You should always lower your 4x4 tyre pressure as you enter off-roading. Especially when you are exploring sandy deserts, this prevents the tyres from getting punctured from a sharp object. But remember to get the pressure up as you hit back on the road.
Momentum is important, always try to keep your 4x4 vehicle moving to avoid getting stuck in sand or mud. Maintaining a constant momentum is a must during off-roading.
If you cross a river or stream, wait for the brakes to get dry before you proceed further. Also, when you travel downhill, do not apply too much pressure on breaks as they will only overheat.
Off-roading can be made easier with additional equipment added to your vehicle that will make the journey safer. For example, the jack that you usually use on-road may not work on sand dunes if you have a flat tyre as the surface is not hard enough to support the large vehicle on simple support and you may need something more specific.
Similarly, the factory fitted lights of most 4x4 vehicles are never that bright or powerful to allow you to see very ahead, which is why our range of 4x4 off-road LED lights will help to guide you through any terrain when the natural light is fading.
When crossing any water body, it is advisable to walk through the stretch of water and check for depth as well as any hidden obstacles to avoid, you do not want to risk driving over sharp rocks. Check in your handbook for the maximum depth of water your vehicle can withstand, anything deeper than the advised depth should be avoided.
If your 4x4 does not already have a winch consider fitting one. They can be very helpful in sticky situations, especially if you are deciding to go solo. They can make the difference between hours of waiting to be towed out and getting back on track quickly.
Responsible off-roading is not only about maintaining your safety but your co-passengers' safety. You should always remember that off-roading is not for everyone. Make sure your team understands this is not a ride in the park!.
It is best to seat an experienced off-roader with you who can help you through difficult terrains and warn you of any risks ahead beforehand. Two pairs of eyes are always better than one.
Getting stuck is always a possibility during off-roading, which is why you should have a recovery plan. There are a set of common issues that you may face during the journey which you should have the expertise to handle when you are far away from the main road where you could get immediate help.
Off-roading can be a dirty business, which is why you should consider having a good power washer ready when you return. Always clean down your 4x4 vehicle after any adventure then its ready to go back on the road.
Remember, riding your 4x4 vehicle on a road is much different from taking it off-road as the conditions are unpredictable. You may get all the off-roading advanced types of equipment but the most essential piece of the off-road puzzle is your capability as an off-road driver and if you are not confident, we suggest you not even think of trying it. Also read our Off-road Checklist for more tips and advice.