There are many reasons people buy sport utility and other four wheel drive vehicles and use them in every day life. These reasons can vary from the security of carrying small children in a well built solid vehicle to the desire to have a vehicle that handles winter weather in a better way. Almost every reason that someone has for driving a four wheel drive vehicle is valid, but the reason four wheel drive vehicles were developed in the first place was so that they could be driven off road. Drivers who like to take their vehicles off the pavement and into the forests, onto the beaches, or across the landscape know that four wheel drive vehicles are more than just a mode of transportation, they provide for a different way of life.
There are a great many things that can be seen from the seat of a rugged four wheel drive vehicle that cannot be seen from the safety and security of the family mini van. From getting a closer look at nature to just seeing the roads less traveled, owning a four wheel drive vehicle and taking it off road provides for many pleasures for the entire family.
There are things to be concerned about when driving off road and here are a few tips that just may help:
Driving In Mud
Whether its from snow melt run-off or the location of a creek, often when driving off road a driver will encounter mud. If the mud is not too deep it shouldn’t cause much of a hindrance to a four wheel drive vehicle at all. If the mud though appears to be significantly deep then there are a few things that can be done to make traveling through it somewhat easier. Momentum is one of the most important things about driving through muddy areas. The direction of movement and weight of the vehicle can go a long way in seeing that it passes through without getting stuck. In a remote area where help is far away, it is a good idea to use a long stick or other device to check the depth of a mudded area before entering it. When crossing a muddy area, if it is possible, a driver should try and pick a straight path so they don’t have to turn the wheels of their vehicle and cause extra drag. If traction is lost, it is best to lay off the accelerator as continued driving may just make the situation worse. It is at this time that a prepared off road driver makes use of his winch.
There is little danger of water causing too many problems when crossing a stream or creek that is shallow in nature. In these types of situations the bigger problems are often caused by the ground underneath the water. If there are large boulders or sharp items, damage could be caused to the vehicle’s tires. If the creek bed is excessively muddy then mud driving techniques should be used. If the water is deeper however, there are other things that an off road driver needs to be aware of. Many four wheel drive vehicles are constructed in a way that they are able to cross deep water at very slow speeds. It is important that the driver be aware of what depth of water their vehicle can continue to run at. The danger of getting stuck or doing damage to the vehicle is often when driving through water that so deep that water travels into the carburetor. A successful water crossing can be performed if water can be kept out of the ignition and carburetor. An adjustment to either the fan belt or fan setting may be needed as sometimes it can spray water every where and end up getting either the ignition or carburetor wet. The most important thing to know before crossing any flooded or other water covered area is the ability of the vehicle being driven. Many simply are not made to perform in that way.
When hill climbing in a four wheel drive vehicle, the most important thing that must be determined is very simple. What is on the other side of the hill. The last thing anyone wants to do is give a vehicle enough gas to crest the hill only to find a large tree or drop off on the other side. Knowing a little bit about the route being traveled can go a long way in in making sure that a four wheel driving adventure doesn’t take a turn for the worse. Momentum is again important when climbing hills, though it will only take you so far. Most four wheel drive vehicles perform best when climbing hills in first gear or low if they come equipped that way. It is very important that the driver tries their best to not let the wheels lose traction and spin. When climbing hills, the loss of traction means that the vehicle will starting going back down from where it came from. If this happens, shifting into reverse is the preferred mode of travel as it gives the driver more control when backing down the hill. The driver is then able to use the engine to perform some of the necessary braking power. Once a hill has been crested and it is time to navigate down a steep slope, all thoughts about momentum should be forgotten. A driver should ease into a descent in first gear and if at all possible avoid turning the wheel. It is best to avoid going down a hill at an angle or sideways as this can cause the vehicle to roll.
Off road driving can be a lot fum and end up being a very rewarding experience. There are many safety measures that should be taken though before anyone starts off on an off road driving adventure. Knowing the capabilities of the vehicle being driven is just as important as having the knowledge of how to drive in off road situations. Safety should always be the number one priority. With safety taken care of, the driver and the rest of the group are more than ready to enjoy all the benefits that come along with a trip off the pavement and onto the roads less traveled.