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Off-road driving is an exciting adventure. However, you could get yourself and your vehicle into trouble without knowing the safety requirements. Ensure you understand the limitations of the driver and vehicle before heading off the roads. Learn what you need to know before you head out off-roading.
The more your 4WD vehicle weighs, the more stress it places on the chassis, suspension, and wheel bearings. It can impact the vehicle’s performance and longevity. It’s primarily a concern when it comes to getting into tricky spots. Also, the more the 4WD weighs, the harder it will be to climb out of a deep rut.
In addition, look at the manufacturer’s and insurance provider’s weight allowance specially if you’re insuring a borrowed car. Going over the limit or using an old car with many miles on the clock for this activity may invalidate your warranty and insurance.
Prepare for an emergency
Off-roading is a fun and adventurous way to enjoy the outdoors, but it can also be dangerous for drivers who don’t know what they’re doing. If you’re unprepared, you might find yourself stuck in unenviable situations. For example, ending up sleeping in your 4WD during a winter night.
Ensure you pack supplies for all emergencies. Whether you need to repair an injury to yourself or the 4WD, you want to be prepared for all eventualities. You should include:
- Basic first aid kit
- Warm clothes
- Spare shoes
- Overnight gear
- A flashlight
- A tow chain
- Extra food and water
Use the lowest gear available
You’ll inevitably find yourself trying to climb a very steep hill or rock when off-road driving. Shift your vehicle into the lowest gear to deal with the reduced traction. Older 4WD have a low-range transfer you can activate with a switch. However, if you don’t have a second set of gears, shifting into the lowest available will still help you overcome the challenge of steep inclines.
Respect the countryside
Off-roading might be an extreme sport, but that’s no excuse to tear up the landscape. Donuts, spinning wheels, and excessive speeds can harm the terrain and ruin the experience for other off-roaders. Ensure you respect the landscape as obnoxious behavior leads to restrictions that limit off-roading for everyone.
Lower the tire pressure
Manufacturers inflate most 4WD tires to work efficiently on smoothly paved surfaces and use the least energy to move forward. However, you don’t want high tire pressure when driving on more demanding terrain. The higher the pressure, the more likely you will bounce and lose traction. Before you head off, it’s also worth checking your wheel alignment.
Lower air pressures absorb more impact when off-roading. This is important as it reduces the chance of harming your vehicle. The lower pressure ensures more of the tire touches the ground, more evenly distributing its weight. It results in more surface area, meaning you’ll have a better grip on sandy or muddy terrains.
Don’t go alone
While off-roading is an exciting and enjoyable sport, it comes with risks. You would hike off alone into the wilderness, so why should you drive into an isolated area without company? It’s hard to predict everything that could go wrong off-roading. And while the sense of danger is part of the charm, you still need to take precautions to ensure you’re safe.
Even if you’re just taking a short trip, there is always a chance the 4WD may break down or you’ll injure yourself. Bringing along a fellow off-roader is sensible. If you’re new, try to find someone with more experience. They can tow you out of a tight spot or seek professional help in an emergency.
Scope out the route
Off-roaders like to drive into unknown terrain and discover new areas. However, you could damage your vehicle and yourself if you don’t know your route. Whether you plummet down an unexpected incline or fall into a deep rut, you can avoid these mistakes with some planning. Either ask someone who has done the route or view the terrain on Google Earth.
Towing an off-road caravan
Towing an off-road trailer or caravan can allow you to extend your trip. With your sleeping arrangements and everything you need to be stored in your caravan, you can make the most of your off-roading adventure. However, if you’re new to off-roading, speak to an expert about towing, as it’s not for amateurs.