Not for the faint of heart, off-roading can be quite an adrenaline-fueled adventure. The excitement that comes with climbing hills, exploring rocky terrains and cruising uneven plains and the freedom to wander off the beaten path can serve as a great recreation for thrill-seekers. That said, off-road driving requires caution and adjusting to the surrounding terrain, and safety is imperative. As an off-road driver, there are a number of things you can do to ensure the overall safety of your off-road driving adventure and four-wheel responsibly. Here are our top five safety tips for off-road driving.
Keep Your Vehicle on the Trail
As a general rule, you shouldn’t go off the trail when driving off-road. This is especially important when you are driving on terrains that are unfamiliar to you. Because marked trails are usually made by volunteers, following those trails is a part of the trail etiquette. Since the best trails for transit are already created by those who drove there long enough to familiarize themselves with the terrain, there is no need for creating additional trails. Not only is it damaging to the environment, but it can also be very dangerous and chances are, you might get stuck trying to blaze a trail. Therefore, keep your 4WD on used paths – just to be on the safe side.
Speed is Not Your Friend – Drive Slowly
Aside from keeping your vehicle on the trail, moving at a slow, steady pace is essential for off-road drivers, even more so if the terrain you’re driving on is unknown. Coming across a couple of bumps on the road is not uncommon, but it can pose a problem if those bumps aren’t spotted on time. When you’re driving slowly and steadily, it makes it easier for you to detect bumps and then adjust your driving to avoid them. While climbing a hill does require some speed, when driving a 4WD on relatively flat terrain, speed is not your friend. In fact, driving even at a slightly higher speed than normal can increase the risk of you damaging your vehicle or even getting stuck. So, stay safe and drive slowly, and while you’re at it, enjoy the beautiful scenery of the surrounding nature.
Spare Parts are of Crucial Importance When Driving Off-road
You can be the most seasoned off-road driver, make all the smart moves, and carefully plan out everything, and your 4×4 can still end up getting stuck in the middle of nowhere. In those cases, it pays to have some spare parts and extra gear packed up in the back of the trunk. Before heading off the road, make sure you get 4wd parts you can use as a replacement if anything unexpected happens while you’re driving off-road. Doing so will ensure a safe, care-free ride and spare you the hassle of random annoyances and unpleasantries. It goes without saying that you should always have towing gear on hand, as well as a basic toolkit. Depending on whether you’re traveling solo or with another 4×4 vehicle, you may need to bring either an electric winch or a heavy-duty tow strap in case you get stuck.
Make Sure that Your Brakes are in Good Condition
Before heading out for your off-road adventure, you want to make sure that your brakes are in good working condition. Start by checking if your brakes are clean. This is important because there is always a danger of mud sticking to your caliper if you’ve been driving through wet mud. The accumulated mud can then reduce the distance between your brake pad and the caliper, thus potentially inhibiting your 4WD’s braking system. Secondly, you should always check the brake fluid level – if it drops, it’ll impact how effectively your car slows down. Also, you want to check your pads. If they’re worn too thin and screech when you use your brakes, they should be replaced. Finally, if you’ve raised your 4WD, adding extended brake lines is a must. They’ll support your four-wheeler’s braking system and won’t rupture or snap, unlike brake lines that are too short for a lifted 4×4.
Know Your Vehicle’s Limits
Regardless of their unique capabilities, each 4WD vehicle has its limitations and different models are equipped for different terrains. As an off-road driver, you want to make sure that you’re familiar with any restrictions of your 4×4 and know exactly how much your four-wheeler can handle. While it may seem tempting to try to cross those limits, nothing good can happen when you bite off more than you can chew. In fact, it’s a sure-fire way to destroy your vehicle or get stuck, which inevitably leads to hefty bills from a service center. Your safest bet? Get to know your 4×4. Talk to an expert such as a mechanic if you need to, and make sure you have basic knowledge when it comes to your vehicle’s angles. Unless you want to risk getting stuck in the middle of nowhere, be sure to thoroughly study your 4WD.
Off-road driving can be thrilling and exciting – there’s no doubt about that. While there’s no special license you need to obtain in order to be able to drive off-road, there are still some practices and guidelines that ought to be followed. Use these tips to ensure a safe off-road outing and get the most of your outdoor adventure.