In preparation for your first off-road adventure, here are some things to...

      Be aware of the damage you and your vehicle can do to the environm...

For All Types of Terrain
Off-road driving is a game of finesse. Your goal should be to hav...

    While these obstacles can be trickier they can be traversed with care.

Climbing hill...

            Riding through water: Most 4x4s can be driven in water that is axle-deep witho...

      Snow chains are not only a benefit in snow and ice, but can work wonders in mud as w...
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  1. 1. BEGINNERS GUIDE TO OFF-ROADING PREPARATION In preparation for your first off-road adventure, here are some things to do before you leave home: 1. Make sure you know your vehicle well. It's important to recognize your limits and that of your vehicle so you don’t exceed them. o Know how your 4x4 system works and how to use the controls o Know where the spare tyre and jack are located and how to use them o Know your vehicle's dimensions - height, width, length, approach angle, departure angle and ramp angle - so that you can pass through tight areas without damage o Know where the lowest point of clearance is - usually the differential casing o Get used to driving your 4x4. Get a feel for its size and driving characteristics o Practice using the low ratio gearbox o If your vehicle is equipped with manual locking hubs, try them out o Know where your engine's air intake and engine computer are located so you'll know the maximum depth of water that you could cross o Keep track of maintenance on filters, belts and hoses and keep all fluids topped up 2. Be prepared. You never know when you'll find yourself stuck or broken down, without help around, so be sure to pack all of the appropriate "emergency" supplies. And be aware of changing weather conditions before you go. 3. Travel with at least one passenger, and at least one other vehicle whenever possible. 4. Let someone know where you are going, and set a time to contact them to let them know you are okay. Don't forget to take along their phone number and other important numbers, in case of an emergency. And do follow-through by calling at the pre-arranged time, so they don't send out the search teams for you! 5. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition and ready for the off-road experience. Before leaving civilization, do a complete check of your vehicle. Make sure your tyres (including the spare) are in good condition and inflated properly. Look under your vehicle for any leaks or mechanical problems. Make sure all of your fluids are topped up. Check the condition of your steering and brakes. All repairs should be carried out before leaving home. 6. Pay attention to how you load your vehicle. Loads should be distributed evenly within the vehicle if possible. Loads behind the rear axle will sag the rear of the vehicle, limiting your departure angle and clearance. If you have a roof rack fitted, be aware of weights and how they are distributed. Excessive loads will change the center-of-gravity, thus making the vehicle less stable. Also, remember the additional height of your vehicle due to the rack. 7. Always know where you are, where you're going, and which route you intend to take. Be time- conscious... What may look like a short trip on the map may take many hours in 4-wheel drive -- so allow enough time for safe travel. TRAIL ETIQUETTE FOR BEGINNERS & HOW TO RIDE RESPONSIBLY Be sure to follow these "Rules of the off-road" when you're out riding. 1
  2. 2. BEGINNERS GUIDE TO OFF-ROADING Environment Be aware of the damage you and your vehicle can do to the environment. Trails Don't blaze a new trail. Instead, stay on the established path. Otherwise: If you venture off the road into the woods, you may get lost in an area where no one will be able to find you Your heavy SUV will damage the ground and embankments by leaving ruts that will deepen and erode with each passing rain You will be damaging the surrounding plant and animal life You may do damage to your SUV You will face a serious fine and/or a serious lecture from law officials Trash Don't litter - not even a cigarette butt or a candy wrapper. If you pack it in, pack it out. Tricks Leave your ego at home. Every vehicle (and driver, for that matter) has its limitations. Backing off early and accepting that a maneuver is impossible or choosing another approach may prevent vehicle damage and, more importantly, personal injury. Never try a maneuver that you are uncomfortable with. Wildlife Don't disturb the wildlife; this includes plants and animals. We're treading on their turf. Speed Slow down. Enjoy the scenery. Live the experience to the fullest. You don't want to spend time repairing damage you wouldn't have caused had you driven a little slower. Passing Just as on the street, you should stay on the left to avoid oncoming traffic, if you can. If common sense tells you it's safer to move right instead of left, then do so. If there is only room for one vehicle to pass, the rule is the more maneuverable vehicle, or the more experienced driver, should yield the right of way. When two vehicles meet on a grade and there isn't a safe place to pull over, the vehicle traveling uphill has the right of way. It is safer for the vehicle traveling downhill to back up, and it will be much easier for the downhill vehicle to get under way. DIFFICULT DRIVING OFF-ROAD When driving off-road, you should be familiar with how to maneuver your vehicle on all types of terrain, and under a variety of conditions. Here are a few tips to get you out of some tough predicaments. 2
  3. 3. BEGINNERS GUIDE TO OFF-ROADING For All Types of Terrain Off-road driving is a game of finesse. Your goal should be to have minimal impact on the terrain, while managing to get through it. Riding through Tight Spots Keep the driver's side of the vehicle close to obstacles so you can judge distances more accurately. (Just don't forget about the rest of the vehicle!) Riding Through Deep Ruts Heavily used tracks often become deeply rutted, to the point where it is impossible to drive without getting the undercarriage hung up. To prevent this, drive with one wheel in the rut and the other wheel on the middle hump. If there is enough room on the side, drive with one wheel on the hump, and one on the far side of one of the ruts. Riding Through Sand or Mud 1. When riding through deep sand, snow or mud, deflate your tyres slightly to increase the tyre’s footprint and provide better traction. Deflated tyres will decrease your ground clearance though. Remember to re-inflate your tyres before going on-road again. 2. Use a steady momentum to carry you through. Keep your speed up and use higher gears. Don't spin your tyres, and don't stop till you're out of the deep sand. If your wheels start to spin, ease off the throttle just a bit and allow the tyres to slow down and regain traction. 3. If you lose traction and the vehicle is barely moving, turn the steering wheel quickly from side to side in short strokes (only 1/8th turn) to allow the front tyre walls to find extra grip. 4. If muddy conditions force you to drive in the ruts, know where your front wheels are pointed at all times. Your vehicle will follow the ruts, even with the wheels turned to the right or left. If you encounter a dry spot with the wheels turned, then the front wheels can regain traction and suddenly throw the vehicle out of the ruts, resulting in a loss of control and possible damage. Riding Over Rocks, Logs, Ditches, and Obstacles 1. When approaching obstacles, such as a ditch, it's best to be at an angle, so that only one tyre enters the ditch at a time when crossing. This leaves the other three tyres on solid ground to provide traction to get you across. If you enter squarely, then an entyre axle could become useless, adding to the difficulty of getting out. 2. Before you drive over large rocks, consider whether you need to build a ramp in front of and behind any rock that has a steep approach and/or departure that could ground your vehicle. 3. Since the underside of your vehicle has vital components (differentials, driveshafts, transmission, transfer case, oil pan, exhaust, fuel tank), it's best to drive over an obstacle by placing one tyre on it, then gently driving over it, rather than trying to take it down the center. 3
  4. 4. BEGINNERS GUIDE TO OFF-ROADING While these obstacles can be trickier they can be traversed with care. Climbing hills As you approach a hill, don't just rush into it blindly -- look it over, and realize the road might make a sharp turn just when you can't see anything but your hood. Remember that any hill you go down you may also have to come back up. If you don't think you can come back up, don't go down unless there’s another clear and obvious trail out. Here's How 1. When climbing a hill, use as high a gear as the vehicle will "pull" comfortably. If the gear selected is too low, you will spin the tyres. If it is too high, you will not have enough power to climb the hill. (The general rule of thumb is 3rd gear up and 1st gear down with an automatic, 2nd gear up and 1st gear down with a manual, all in Low Range. If this doesn’t work, try High Range.) Lock front hubs, and lock differentials (if fitted). 2. Line up your vehicle so it has a straight approach at the hill. If at all possible, try to keep the vehicle parallel with the slope of the hill, so the vehicle’s weight is equally distributed, providing equal traction to all four wheels. Apply power at the bottom of the hill, and ease off the throttle when you go over the top to keep the vehicle under control. 3. Always prepare for a failed climb. Work out an escape route and know where all of the obstacles are. 4. If you must park on a hill, turn off the engine, leave it in gear with a manual transmission (or in park with an automatic and apply the hand brake). Place chocks, rocks or logs under the wheels to provide additional braking assistance. Descending Hills on Failed Climbs Heading up hill is tough. Getting back downhill if you didn't make it can be even tougher. If the vehicle stalls going uphill, you'll need to memorize these steps to get back down safely. Here's How: 1. Apply the brakes 2. Put it in reverse 3. Remove your feet from the clutch and brake pedal simultaneously 4. Turn the key to restart the engine 5. Descend back down the hill using only the engine to keep the descent slow Tips: Remember that visibility is limited when braking downhill, steering is much quicker, and steering kickback is more violent. Do not attempt to turn around on a steep hill, as the vehicle may roll. 4
  5. 5. BEGINNERS GUIDE TO OFF-ROADING Riding through water: Most 4x4s can be driven in water that is axle-deep without taking special precautions. (Max. wading depth is about 20 inches.) When the water is deeper, you need to know where your engine’s air intake and engine computer are located and don’t allow water to enter. Switch off headlights and allow them to cool, as sudden contact with cold water will cause the glass to crack. If you place a tarp across the front of your vehicle prior to entering very deep water, you will minimize the water entering the engine bay by creating a bow wave, so long as you maintain a brisk forward momentum. The result: less water will be sprayed over the ignition system by the radiator fan and less chance of water entering the air intake. When crossing shallow streams, drive slow and steady to create a small bow wave in front of your bumper that will reduce the height of the water behind the bumper and keep the water away from the air intake and electronics. Select low range and first gear, and keep steering straight. When crossing fast-flowing shallow streams, cross at an angle and drive slightly upstream. This presents a smaller surface area and lessens the force of the stream on the vehicle. (Never cross fast-flowing deep streams, as your vehicle can be swept away.) Apply your brakes several times after crossing water or deep mud to dry them out. IF YOU ARE STUCK If you stall If your vehicle is about to stall on steep incline or decline, DO NOT depress the clutch! This could cause the vehicle to "free wheel" and you could loose control very quickly. Instead, first turn off the ignition and apply the food brake very hard. Then apply the parking brake. After selecting a suitable route back down the hill, slowly depress the clutch, put it in reverse, let the clutch out, and simultaneously release the parking brake and the foot brake slowly. Then start the engine. With an automatic transmission, never shift the gear lever to Park, as this may lock the transmission and you may not be able to release it without the aid of a winch. If you get stuck If you get stuck on a rock, stump or log, survey the situation first to determine the best way to free the vehicle without damaging it. If you're stuck on an object that can be moved, jack up the vehicle and clear away the obstacle. If you're stuck on an object that can't be moved, jack up the vehicle and fill under the tyres so that you can drive over the obstacle. Try letting some of the air out of your tyres (to about 10psi) -- just remember to air them up again as soon as you can. (Remember that lowering tyre pressure also reduces the vehicle's overall height and therefore the vehicle's ground clearance.) Lock the differential locks (if fitted), and use as high a gear as possible. After shoveling away the mud, dirt, sand or snow that is blocking your tyres, clear a path in the direction you'll be traveling, so the tyres can get enough traction. Carpet strips, wood, floor mats, brush, rocks, clothing or sleeping bags can be placed as traction aids under the tyres in the direction of travel. If you still can't get out, jack up the vehicle and fill the area under the tyres with sand, rocks, logs, brush, packed snow or any combination of these. If the jack sinks into the ground, use piece of wood as a base. (Never crawl under a vehicle that is supported by a jack!) 5
  6. 6. BEGINNERS GUIDE TO OFF-ROADING Snow chains are not only a benefit in snow and ice, but can work wonders in mud as well. Typically, you'll fit them on the rear wheels, especially if you're climbing up a hill or towing. Sometimes it may be necessary to fit them to the front or to all four wheels. The best way to get unstuck is with a winch. A winch takes the hard work out of vehicle recovery. It also allows a lone vehicle a means of freeing itself. Another vehicle can be used as an anchor, but natural anchors, such as trees, stumps and rocks, are the handiest. When no natural anchors are available, a spare tyre, log or any other similar object that can be partially buried can form an anchor. It may be wise to use several items and group them as a single anchor. Never winch with fewer than five turns of cable around the winch drum. With fewer turns, the cable may break loose from the drum under heavy load. AFTER THE RALLY After you return home, service your 4x4. Fluids and filters need to be changed more often when you drive on rough terrain. Transmissions, transfer gearboxes, differentials, hubs and brakes can be contaminated with mud and water. These parts need to be cleaned and serviced when used under such conditions. 6