People are taking their vehicles to the trails for off-road driving now more than ever. In fact, carmaker Toyota claims that 20 percent of all off-road driving takes place in their SUVs.
A big part of off-road driving is staying safe, and in order to stay safe, you need to have a driving strategy and some off-roading tips. Whether it is performance and equipment upgrades like lifting your truck or something as little as changing your driving strategy, there are plenty of things you can do to learn how to drive off-road.
Continue reading to learn about the 7 off-road driving tips that you should know for your upcoming summer adventures.
1. Practice Preservation
When you’re off-roading with your friends and family in a beautiful area of the world, it is easy to forget about the importance of safety. Always put the people you’re with as well as yourself first. This is the best way to avoid injury to anyone. Most times when you’re offroading you’re going to be far from anyone who can help, so safety is imperative.
The best way to be safe is to make smart decisions and to follow simple safety tips. All passengers should keep all parts of their body inside the vehicle at all times. By taking your time and using your common sense you can eliminate a lot of potential injuries and dangers.
You also need to practice safety and preservation for your vehicle. Most people who participate in off-road driving do so with their daily driver. Try to avoid putting your vehicle in harm’s way and don’t push things too far.
Lastly, do what you can to preserve the environment. A lot of people get into off-roading as another way to enjoy and get close to nature. Try to avoid spinning your tires and creating deep ruts in the trail. Also, don’t go off the trail and create your own. Practice Leave No Trace principles and avoid leaving any trash behind. This is terrible for the environment.
2. Use Simplest Option First for Off-Road Driving
Another important off-roading tip is to always make sure that you have options. You don’t want to have to rely on only one way over or around an obstacle. You also don’t want to get stuck with no way out of your predicament. In order to ensure that you have options, you need to use your vehicle and skills correctly.
The best way to ensure that you have options is to take things slow and simple. If the problem gets worse then escalate your approach using your knowledge and skills to find the best route.
3. Drive as Fast as Necessary and as Slow as Possible
Driving fast on an off-road trail is just asking for stuff on your vehicle to be broken. The speed that you drive at isn’t as big of a deal if you’re mudding, but if you’re crawling and traversing rocky terrain you should drive as slow as possible. This is especially true if you don’t have the benefits of a lift kit and skid plate in your truck or Jeep.
If you’re driving at too high of a speed it is easy to destroy a differential or a control arm. That will leave you out on the trail overnight and out a few hundred dollars. By moving slow, you’re able to pick a line of approach to the obstacle you’re attempting.
4. Get Out and Assess The Situation
It is also important to remember that off-roading is not a race. If you see something that looks off or something that you’re not sure about, stop and get out. This is the best way to safely assess the situation before you commit yourself and your vehicle to a potentially dangerous situation.
This is vital when you’re off-road driving on your own without a copilot or a spotter to help you. The worst thing you can do is to keep driving and see what happens. Taking that approach is asking for an accident to happen that damages your truck, the environment, or yourself.
5. Coming Down off of Obstacles Is Important Too
Odds are that your vehicle has some level of lift and ground clearance if you’re going off-roading in it. If that’s the case, remember that it is important how you come down off of obstacles. If you come down too quickly it will damage the body of your vehicle because the shocks and suspension decompressed too fast.
The best approach to take is to crawl slowly down obstacles and pulse your brakes. This helps you to control your descent and maximizes your ground clearance.
6. Trust Your Tires
When it comes to off-roading, the tires are one of the most important pieces of equipment you can have. Running street tires on an off-road trail will only lead to frustration as your vehicle struggles to get a foothold on slippery or rocky terrain. Thankfully, there are all-terrain tires and mud tires that have an aggressive tread that is designed for off-road trails.
Another perk of these tires is that you can air them down. This helps your truck to navigate sandy places since it helps to spread your vehicle’s weight over a larger area. Be careful that you don’t air down too much though. Doing this will lead to a broken bead and a replacement tire.
7. Invest in Recovery Gear
While Overlanding accessories might not be the cheapest thing around, there are certain ones that you want to make sure you have before you hit the trail. Make sure that you have a winch for your vehicle as well as tow straps. These tools will help you if your vehicle gets stuck. A shovel is also a useful tool to keep on hand.
While it might not be the investment that you want to make, it is smart. You’ll thank yourself the first time that you get stuck when driving off-road that you’ll have the tools and the training to fix the situation.
Start Your Off Road Driving Adventure Today
There is a lot to look forward to and be excited about when it comes to off-road driving in your truck or SUV. Whether you want to get closer to nature or just get away for the weekend in your pride and joy, off-roading is a great hobby for everyone. It is important to place safety first when off-roading and make sure that you’re investing in the right gear.
It is also important to know how to come down off large objects so that you don’t damage your vehicle. This is especially true if your vehicle is your daily driver. Remember to drive slow because this will help you find the best line of approach and avoid damaging your vehicle and injuring yourself.
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