Some Off-Roading Basics

November 18th, 2014 by

2012-jeep-wrangler-off-road - Jeep Dealership in Miami

Getting into off-roading can mean a whole lot of fun and adventure. It’s a great way to be out in nature, enjoying some different scenery.

And it’s also an excellent way to challenge yourself and put your skills to the test. Having the right vehicle and the right equipment is essential if you’re going to stay safe and have a good time.

Knowing what you’re doing is also crucial. A lot of people buy an off-road vehicle and then believe they can do just about anything.

But there are specific strategies you use in different driving situations. Without that knowledge, you could find yourself in nasty or even dangerous circumstances.

Here are some of the basics you should know if you’re just starting out with an off-road vehicle from a Jeep dealership in Miami.

Safety

First make sure you pack a stocked first aid kit along with other survival staples in case of an emergency. It’s always better to be prepared than to be deep in the woods without any supplies.

Always, always, always wear your seatbelt so if something unpredictable occurs, you stay firmly in your seat.

It’s also important to watch where you place your hands. If you suddenly brake or if the vehicle jerks, the wheel can spin back, catching your fingers and causing some painful damage.

Always keep your thumbs on the outside of the steering wheel to avoid that bummer.

Don’t go alone. Bring a friend with you when you go off-roading. It’s more fun with the company, and someone else is there in case you get into trouble.

It’s ideal to go as part of an off-road club or to invite other people with vehicles that can handle intense terrain. That way, if one of you gets stuck, the others can help pull.

Making a Plan of Attack

Before you go racing into anything, you’ve got to assess the trail and decide what your approach is going to be. This is called “choosing your line.”

Consider the obstacles that you need to handle and remember to keep your vehicle’s setup and capabilities in mind. How much clearance do you have? Can you negotiate this area without causing damage to your ride?

Also be honest about your level of experience. Mastering some general skills before you delve into really steep climbs or tricky water crossings is a good idea.

Sometimes it’s helpful to ask your friend to act as a “spotter.” It can be challenging to see the whole picture from inside, so your spotter can give you valuable feedback as you’re working along.

Slippery Surfaces

If you’re going to drive through slippery terrain like sand or mud, it’s important to keep your momentum going. If you start to get stuck, try moving the wheel from left to right to see if you can recover your traction.

If that doesn’t work and you are officially in a sticky spot, avoid the urge to gun it. Though that’s often a person’s first instinct, you’ll just dig yourself in deeper.

Get out to check your wheels and see where you may still have some traction. Try rocking the vehicle back and forth with low acceleration until one of your wheels grabs on again.

If you can’t make your way out of it, put on your nicest smile and ask a friend for a tow.

Crawling

Make sure you let some air out of your tires before you hit the trail. Lowering the pressure will give your tires the ability to adjust as they move over uneven objects.

Use low gears to help you make your way over obstacles. One tip is to keep your left foot on the brake so you get power from the gas pedal without adding a ton of speed.

Apply stopping power slowly when needed, but try to avoid braking when you’re navigating a steep descent by keeping things in low gear.

Make sure you press on the gas smoothly too. Doing it abruptly can cause wheel spin which isn’t good for you or the trail you’re riding on.

Take it slowly and give your vehicle time to shift its weight as it moves over tough terrain.

 

Those are just a few basics to help you get started. But the best way to learn is to ask if you can join people who have a lot of experience. Jeep clubs make it possible for off-roaders of every level to plan trips together and learn from each other.

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