Want to get off the pavement and see what your truck can do? Here’s 7 off road driving tips to get you off the road (and back on):
1) Plan on getting stuck: If you are going with some buddies and other trucks bring along a heavy duty tow strap, preferably with nylon loops, not hooks; although hooks will work in a bind. Be careful when towing to not wrap it around a suspension arm, axle or bumper. If going alone bring a winch rated for 1.5 times your trucks weight.
Don’t have a winch? No problem! Auto Fella has an in-depth article to help you decide on the best winch for your needs, check out the article at: Autofella.com
2) What to bring: Invest in some walkie talkies and help spot for your buddies for when you go off road. Having friends go is more fun and much more safe. We don’t want to sound like your mother but bring food, water, tools and blankets. Getting stuck or broken down can make you stay out much longer than you anticipated, especially if a tow truck can’t get out to you. Make sure your spare tire is ready to go, your phone is charged, and grab the shovel out of the garage.
3) Tire pressure: Lower tire pressure will increase traction in almost every off-road situation. It allows the tread to flex and mold around rocks and obstacles. Most guys will recommend 8psi lower than your usual setting. Just be careful not to lower it too much and top it off at a gas station or an in car compressor afterwards for the street.
4) Do your homework: Read your owner’s manual, most will have the fording depth of your 4WD vehicle. No shame in turning back if you can’t safely determine the depth of a stream or other body of water. Nobody wants a hydrolocked engine and no one wants to see a friend get hurt. Get familiar with warning lights, your 4WD system and other features you might need to know before going off road.
5) Know your limits: Know the underside of your truck. Just because your bumper is two feet off the ground, your differential might only be a foot off the ground. Get a mental image of these heights, eventually you’ll get a good sense of which ruts and rocks you can go over and which ones to avoid.
6) Position: Stay relaxed and in an upright position. Keep a loose grip on the steering wheel and keep your thumbs out of the center of the steering wheel to avoid injuring your thumb from kickback. Power steering can help against kick back when off-roading, but it’s a good method to use on the road in case of an accident as well. Remember to constantly look ahead and that braking off the road is nothing like it is on the road.
7) Watch your gas foot: The difference between getting stuck and smooth off-roading is determined by your right foot. Don’t rev the engine, don’t immediately try to power out if you get stuck, most people find that around 3k rpm allows a good amount of grip and power. If you get stuck don’t get frustrated. Break out that shovel, throw a floor mat under the tire, or have your spotting buddy yell directions. Go slow, and picture the line you will take to get over each obstacle.