A Guide to Off-Roading
The better condition your car is in, the sooner you will be able to get back out there and continue to ride. Check out these basic tips to make sure that you have your fundamentals covered.
Read the Manual
Every car is created differently so the best place to start is by reading the owners manual so you really know the intricacies of your car.
Be in the Right Gear
When confronted with a challenging portion of a trail, make sure that you are choosing the right gear. For downhill sections, use 1st gear to fully utilize braking effectiveness to prevent the brakes from locking up. When the brakes lock up it is common to slide out and lose control which is especially devastating going around a turn. In general, if your car starts to slide out one way or the other, turn the wheel into the slide then punching the gas. Then straighten out the wheel then slowly back off the gas. If you are going uphill, more than likely stay in gear 2 or 3 as starting in too high of a gear can cause strain on the engine and make it difficult to complete the climb.
Know your minimum ground clearance.
For cars with fixed axles, whether or not you are going up, down, right, or left, the minimum ground clearance won’t change. To calculate it, measure from the lowest point of the axle to the ground. This will help to make sure you won’t scrape your undercarriage while driving so you avoid rocks that are too big. While the minimum ground clearance will never change, the maximum wheel change will vary based on the where the wheels rest if they sit up on higher ground.
Know Your Width
The width of the roads can vary and different obstacles can lead to scratches or worse in your car. So, just know the width and height of your car to avoid rocks, trees and washes.
Start with Proper Equipment
Tires: Make sure the type of tires you use will provide sufficient traction during your ride. All terrain tires do not have as much space between them or as thick of grooves while mud tires have more space and have thicker grooves to garner more traction.
Bull Bars: The strepotypical piece that goes on the front of every Jeep’s bumper. This can help to get you or someone else pulled out.
Winch: A winch is the piece that attaches to the front of the bull bar to help pull other people out. If your the only one with a winch, looks like your the designated recovery guy.
Snatch Straps: Different than a tow strap, this uses the energy absorption in reverse as it doesn’t stretch, the vehicle instead absorbs the energy and it will pull and be channeled into pulling the other vehicle out. This is a dynamic rope that is better at pulling vehicles out than a standard tow rope.
Check the Weather
Yes, as silly as it sounds, the weather can sneak up on people and can make it next to impossible to take or make the same route back. Even in places like the desert, rain can quickly happen and cause sudden flash flooding. Probably it won’t result in flash floods, but it can make the trail lose all traction and make it impossible to move forward as you slowly get stuck in the mud.
Research the Area
Check the area where you are going to go off-roading and try to gather as much information on it as possible. This way you can figure out how ling it is going to take, if your vehicle can make it, how difficult it is going to be, and how sandy the wash is. That way your vehicle doesn’t get stuck.
Have Tools on Hand
Be prepared for the worst by having the tools to get out of the any compromising situation. Things to have ready:
* A shovel, to dig out of the wash
* A rope, to pull you out
* Boards, to stick under your wheels in the case they are spinning out.