Common Driving Mistakes Made In 4×4’s
Off-road driving can be a fun and exciting experience provided it is done with the right technique and carried out within certain guidelines. But if these instructions are avoided then it can turn into an expensive adventure. People often tend to take shortcuts, but sometimes those shortcuts and ingrained methods can make your 4×4 life more difficult in the long run.
Here are the five biggest mistakes people make when going for off-road rides:
Not Being Fully Prepared
Off-road adventures require a lot of heads-up and it takes real preparation to tackle the really rough tracks – not just simply rushing out without packing more than a few drinks. Even if you are confident in your abilities and have done it many times before, carrying a basic kit in case of emergencies is always a good idea.
It might also be useful to carry a recovery kit as well, which can help in any condition. The more you prepare yourself, the more you will be able to enjoy your 4×4 ride without being stranded and on a desperate lookout for help.
It is always advisable to carry necessary items such as extra clothes, food, a sufficient amount of water and a lot more. But that doesn’t mean you should bring everything and the kitchen sink just for a quick jaunt.
Make sure your 4×4 isn’t overloaded and is below the legal weight limit that can be supported safely by a vehicle. Bringing every piece of equipment and overdoing it is not required for every trip and may create the risk of losing the vehicle’s balance if you’ve got all your gear loaded on the roof or piled on the back.
Unstable conditions in off-road driving could cause your car to handle differently and put you in an unexpected and possibly dangerous situation. Apart from all the stuff you pack, make sure your recovery gear is the last thing that is being packed so that it can be easily found whenever needed.
See the European adventure packing guide from The Savvy Backpacker for more help on ideas of what to pack.
Going Too Solid
Speed is not always the key to brilliant driving, as you don’t want to go hurtling into a situation from where you can’t get out. Sometimes you need to go slow on the throttle, like when you are on the beach and have to move through ruts that are trying to push your car towards the surf.
The old cliché “slow and steady wins the race” can be literal when it comes to manoeuvring past obstacles, instead of getting stranded and charging in too forcefully. Try to plan your approach, get out and walk ahead of an obstacle rather than just stamping down on the accelerator once you find yourself in a bit of trouble, which will inevitably make it worse.
Selecting Low Quality Gear
It’s important to select quality recovery gear when heading out on an expedition. You should always ensure that you choose high quality essentials such as snatch strap or a winch for whenever you get stuck. It doesn’t mean that you have to buy the most expensive or gold-plated items, but you must ensure that your gear is good quality and in working order.
Spending a little bit more to buy something once would be better rather than skimping on the cost and having to buy it over and over again, especially if it’s going to leave you stranded.
Going on an adventure on your own is not always a good idea unless you have enough experience. If you go on an off-road trip alone and unfortunately get stuck, there might be fewer chances of getting help, especially at places which do not have signals or signboards. This could leave you stranded for some time.
So, make sure you are heading out in groups so that you have a rescue vehicle in case something goes wrong. With a group or team your ability to tackle these situations increases.
Not Knowing Your Car
Before you start your ride and go off-road, you need to know what your vehicle is capable of and what it isn’t. Also, you should check whether your 4×4 has enough storage and seating capacity according so that you and other members can sit comfortably.
Properly assessing the vehicle will give you an idea of any changes that may need to be made.
Not Selecting The Right Driving Mode
Many 4-wheel drive vehicles have multiple terrain modes that should be decided based on the type of track you will be driving on. You have to select the required mode before heading towards the obstacle. Don’t try to ride the vehicle in normal mode and switch to the right mode only when you’re stuck.
Once you get stuck, switching to the correct mode will not get you out instantly. You need to make sure that you select the desired driving mode from the beginning of your journey so that you don’t face any issues.
Tyres are the most important part of your vehicle while off-roading. You need to check air pressure and general 4×4 tyre condition before going on an adventurous ride. If you choose sandy surface for off-roading, make sure you lower your tyre pressure so that the contact area increases and the pressure is distributed over a larger surface area.
To prevent yourself from getting bogged down this step is extremely crucial. Make sure you revert back to the required tyre pressure when you are done with off-roading else it could result in a tyre blow out.
Not Maintaining Momentum
During off-roading, you have to balance your vehicle’s speed from being too slow and having constant momentum because any sudden acceleration could create issues. Possessing adequate momentum will keep things safely moving.
Having stable momentum and gradual throttle input will prevent you from getting stuck in a deep rut and also help you get out of any sticky situations.
See this guide from Lotsa Fresh Air for more tips on driving on dirt roads.
While preparing yourself for any off road adventure, you need to pay keen attention to all of the mistakes listed above, and work to avoid making them. Making the correct checks and avoiding these mistakes will help you a lot when it comes to tackling any obstacles you may face when off roading, and help make your trip enjoyable and memorable.
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