The thrill of off-roading is hard to put into words for it is an adventure packed activity but there is a thin line that separates a success from failure. Whether you are a veteran or a beginner, there is always something to learn to ensure that your off-roading experience is a great one. You can test the full prowess of your driving when off-roading and you can push your vehicle to the extremes and fully experience the beautiful machine that your car is.
With the right knowledge, skills and confidence, you can embark on your journey to become an off-roading enthusiast. The key is to be able to tackle difficult terrains that you might come across, adeptly and to stay safe. Many SUV owners tend to be afraid to venture off the conventional tarmac path, however, with these tips, you will be well prepared and fully equipped to take on off- roading!
How to check the vehicle externals?
Reducing the tyre pressure is a simple trick to improve the vehicle’s off-road performance and to ensure comfort in the car. Doing this will mean that more of the tyre will be touching the ground so that the weight of the vehicle will be evenly distributed. This will aid in staying on top of softer surfaces such as sand or mud. Especially in rocky terrains, this will absorb more impact pressure which will in turn protect the wheels and the vehicle as well.
If the tyres are slightly deflated, they will absorb the smaller bumps that you come across on the road as opposed to bouncing over them. Reducing the tyre pressure will result in a smooth and comfortable off-roading experience.
The reduction in tyre pressure will depend on the terrain, so check the optimal tyre pressure for the specific type of terrain. Avoid making sharp turns with reduced tyre pressure as this will increase the chance of them detaching from the wheel. Lastly, remember to re-inflate your tyres before hitting the regular road.
For more power and control at low speeds, keep your vehicle in low range as you need better and increased control when driving over rocky terrain. In some SUVs you can manually engage low range when the vehicle isn’t moving with the flick of a switch which gives you maximum control.
To get a good grip, the vehicle’s front and rear axles need to spin at different speeds while going around corners. The idea is to lock the speeds of the left and right wheels on an axle together to ensure that power sent to the axle rotates both wheels at equal speeds rather than sending the power to the wheel with the least traction.
Before you decide to go off-roading be sure to check your fluids such as coolant oil, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, power steering fluid, ATF, etc. Give the vehicle a once over to make sure that there are no leaks and everything is at the correct level.
How to check vehicle internals?
It is important to look after regular oil changes in order to maintain your vehicle in prime condition. Read this guide on car engine oil to get a better idea. Off-roading puts more stress on the engine, so stick to fresh oil and oil filters. This is essential for the health of your vehicle and engine as well.
You can opt for Divyol’s car engine oil to ensure smooth performance even under severe operating conditions. After you’ve gone off roading check for leaks from the power-steering pump and hoses if the vehicle’s power steering is a hydraulic system. Don’t forget to look for slow leaks which may be undetected.
Check steering wheel and brakes
When it comes to off-roading, use the 10 and 2 O’clock position analogy to keep your hands on the steering as this position will give you the maximum control. Keep your thumbs on the rim of the steering wheel and faced away from the spokes inside the wheel. Hitting a big rock or an obstacle can cause injury to the thumbs, avoid this by following the tip. Remember to feed the steering wheel from one hand to the other, so that your hands are constantly on the wheel.
Brake with your left foot so that you don’t waste time shifting from the right to the left foot in extreme situations and to wield more control. When you brake, this causes the vehicle’s weight to shift from one axle to the other. Braking with your left foot will help balance the load for the vehicle for a smoother ride.
To begin with, take a quick look at the terrain ahead and decide the safest route to take. Choose the route with the least risk and avoid damaging the underneath of the vehicle, choose a line that ensures that all 4 vehicles maintain contact with the ground.
If you have to cross a water body, be aware of the vehicle’s water wading ability beforehand and cross with caution. When you are moving through the water, it is crucial to maintain speed as abruptly stopping in deeper waters can cause components of the vehicle to flood.
Preparing for worst-case scenarios
Always be prepared for the off chance that an emergency should strike in the worst case scenario. Carry a basic first-aid kid with you at all times. Understand the terrain as different terrains mean different driving skills that will be required. Carry plenty of food and water to keep yourself hydrated. Fill up your tank and read the vehicle’s manual in detail. Always carry a spare tire and keep a map, GPS handy.
Don’t hesitate to turn back if you feel like the terrain is too difficult to tackle. Before you head into the wilderness, make sure that you are familiar with any rules, laws or regulations pertaining especially if you’re going through a national park. Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself for the best off-roading experience if you prepare well and in advance for the same.