Driving on the road can feel unrelentingly dull at time. 20mph speed limits, traffic cones, and miles of stationary vehicles are enough to make any motorist wonder why they love motoring. Cars are great but driving them can be a nightmare.
The lack of enjoyment most people derive from driving their vehicles on the road is leading many to wonder whether the grass is any greener off the road. Could driving be fun again if you get off the beaten track and start ploughing across fields and through swamps? The answer is, of course, “yes.”
But then comes the next problem: most of us don’t know the first thing about off roading. Check out these off-road driving tips that will give you confidence behind the wheel.
Learn to read the terrain
Except for the occasional pothole, roads are almost entirely predictable. You can travel hundreds of miles on tarmac and not encounter so much as a stray rock or a smattering of sand. Go off-road, and these are not only common, but the norm.
Learning to “read the terrain” is vital if you want to go off-road. You need to be able to predict how your vehicle will react to conditions under the tyres and adjust your driving style accordingly. Just ploughing on through, even with a highly capable 4×4, isn’t always possible.
Practice selecting the right gear
Mud and elevation are your enemies when you go off-road. Sudden changes in height and the bogginess of the ground can leave you stranded at all kinds of strange angles.
The way out of this is to practice your gear selection. If you can see that you’re at risk of losing forward momentum and getting stuck in the mud, the last thing you want to do is choose a low gear and floor the gas pedal. Doing that will cause the wheels to spin, flinging out dirt and burying your wheels in up to a foot of thick mud.
You soon learn that the way out of that situation is to choose a high gear and use as little torque as possible, helping to maintain the forward momentum of the vehicle without spinning the wheels. Over time, you build up an instinctual repertoire of what you should do with your gearing in particular situations to maximize your chances of getting through unscathed.
Take recovery gear with you
Even the most capable vehicles paired with the best drivers can get stuck in the mud from time to time. It’s always a risk when you go off-road. That’s why pro-off-roaders are trail savvy and take emergency recovery gear with them on every trip. You’ll need the following:
- Winch rated to 1.5 times the gross vehicle weight
- Heavy two-inch-wide tow
- Fabric loops
- A strong clevis
Lower your tyre pressure
Finally, you’ll want to lower your tyre pressure if you go off-road. A lower tyre pressure provides you with more grip and makes punctures less likely than if the tyre wall is taut.