Between bumpy trails and winding hills, nothing can give you as much of a rush as driving off-road. This being said, it’s not for the faint of heart. A lot can go wrong during this adrenaline-pumping activity if you’re not careful.
The world is your oyster when you’re off-roading, but that doesn’t mean you should venture from the given trail. You’ve got to learn how to read the terrain and you should never speed. The point of the adventure is to take it slow.
These aren’t the only tips you should keep in mind before you hop in your vehicle. Check out this guide for a list of off-roading rules to live by.
1. The Paths Are There for a Reason
When it comes to off-road driving, take the road most traveled by. Even if you're curious about where a particular path might take you, don't give in to the temptation.
The trail that you're going down has been carefully mapped out by another person. You know that it's safe to travel down. The same can't be said about the mystery path. There's no telling where you may end up or what you may run into, which is dangerous.
Following the path that's already been carved out is also just good etiquette. Creating more trails will damage the environment that's been untouched by the weight of off-road tires.
2. Learn to Read the Terrain
No matter how much of a thrill seeker you are, you should still be at least a little afraid of the unknown and learn to plan ahead. If you run into a rough patch while you're on a trail, stop your vehicle. It's time to get out and scout ahead to find out what kind of adventure you're in for.
Doing this will give you some idea of how to proceed. You may need to slow down or take another path that's been laid out for travelers.
The problem is that you can't scout the entire trail. Well, you could, but then what was the point of bringing your vehicle? Elevate your seat so you can clearly see the path ahead of you. From there, it's all a matter of learning to read the road.
For example, if you notice that there is a place where the path trails off, this might mean that you're in for a steep drop. Being able to read the road like this takes a lot of practice, but it's important for safe off-roading.
3. Don't Speed
No matter how often you've been down a trail, it's never a good idea to speed. You will come across bumps on the road. These bumps are no problem if you're moving slowly.
They can become dangerous if you're going full blast down the trail. It will be harder for you to adjust your driving around them. Speeding also makes it more likely that you'll get stuck or damage the vehicle.
The only time when you should pick up speed is when you're trying to climb up a steep hill. Other than that, take things slow and appreciate the scenery.
4. Shift into the Right Gear
As soon as you hit the dirt, it's 4WD all the time. You may not need it right away, but you might forget later and find yourself stuck in the dirt.
Once you're stuck, you can try shifting into the right gear, but there's no telling if your efforts will work or not. You also need to worry about your transmission gear. First gear is good for big rocks and bumps in the road.
You'll need to flip into a higher gear if you run into a loose, sandy patch. The high tire speed will keep you from skating across the sand.
5. Stay Stocked-Up with Spare Parts
Even if you're an experienced driver and plan your trip out, you can't account for everything. There is still a chance that even the best off-road SUV can get stuck.
When that happens, you'll be glad you prepared yourself by picking up additional 4WD parts and stashing them in your vehicle. On top of replacement parts , you should also grab a basic tool kit and gear to tow your car out of the dirt if worse comes to worst.
You may never end up using any of these tools, but having them will at least allow you to go adventuring while having some peace of mind.
6. Check Your Brakes
Before you hit the trail, you need to make sure that your brakes are in prime working condition. First things first, clean your brakes. If enough mud is allowed to accumulate it will put a huge space between your brake pads and the caliper.
While you're cleaning, it's also a good idea to check your fluid levels. If you don't have enough brake fluid, it will be harder for you to stop while you're on the trail.
If your vehicle is making squealing sounds, that might be an indicator that you need to replace your brake pads. If your pads aren't at least 1/4 inches, replace them before you head out.
Off-Road Driving Tips That Will Keep You Safe
There is a certain thrill that goes into off-road driving. It's easy to get lost in the sense of adventure and forget about safety. Take the time to take in the sights rather than speed down the trail.
Always check your brakes and don't venture off the provided path. It's also a good idea to keep a stash of spare parts in your vehicle that you can use in the event you get stuck.
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