4 Off-Roading Tips for Newbies

Off-Roading Tips for Newbies

If you own a truck, but you’ve never taken it off-road before, the chances are you’re just itching to veer off the beaten path. However, driving off-road is a completely different beast from highway driving, so you need to know how to get prepared. Throughout this article, we off up our top off-roading tips for newbies.

Know Your Truck

The modern truck is a fascinating machine, capable of handling almost any terrain – but you need to know about the different systems at play when off-roading. Here’s a short overview to set you in the right direction:

Locking differentials lock the wheel movement together when turning. On normal roads, the inside wheel of a turn moves slower because it has less distance to travel. When you’re off-road, you’ll want to lock the wheels in and go full-blown 4×4. If you have a modern truck, you can do this by flicking a switch. However, if your truck is older, you’ll be getting out and doing this manually.

4WD low vs. 4WD high is to do with gearing. Low 4WD speed will max out quickly, but there’s much more torque. High 4WD is what’s used for the average drive – low torque but high-top speed. Having the ability to switch between the two is often essential when you’re on the trail, so make sure you know your vehicle first.

Traction. Traction controls vary from complex control panels to basic on/off switches, depending on the type of terrain your truck can handle. When dealing with traction, the truck utilizes the brakes and other systems to reduce wheel slip – this helps to keep your truck moving forward.

Specialist Equipment

Whether you’re planning to off-road over snowy fields or muddy hills, you’re going to need to get your hands on some specialist equipment. Work your way through this list to make sure you’re prepared:

  • Suspension. Suspension is an essential part of off-roading, so don’t settle for a poor-quality body lift kit. Once you begin loading your vehicle with gear, your suspension needs to deal with it.
  • Tires. Your tires need to be perfectly matched to your most-planned terrain.
  • Maxtrax. If your truck gets stuck out there, you’ll need to try to release it. A Maxtrax is a tool that slips under the wheel and allows your truck to regain some of the lost traction.
  • Bumpers. There are countless obstacles off-road and your truck needs protecting, so don’t be cheap when it comes to aftermarket bumpers.
  • Snorkel. If you’re submerging the front of your vehicle in water, you need to prevent engine floods. A snorkel will bring in air from near the roof, which mitigates these issues.
  • Winch. If your truck gets stuck and needs slow-paced recovery, a winch is the perfect solution. However, you should keep in mind that you’ll need some practice before using one.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s enough to get you started. Instead of struggling with these adjustments yourself, it’s best to seek out the help of professionals like TCS Upfitting.

Understanding Different Conditions

Before heading out on the road, you must have a clear plan on the types of terrain you’ll be facing – so spend time studying the trail. Here are some of the most common types of terrain you’ll face:

  • Rock. You need to be methodical on rock, which means crawling over the terrain. You’ll most likely need to put the vehicle in 4WD low, air down, and opt for the “rock” setting on the traction control panel (if you have one).
  • Sand, snow, and sand. These surfaces handle pretty much the same. Assess the situation, air down, and switch into 4WD high. When it comes to traction control, you’ll likely want to turn it off.
  • Water fording. Heading through water is dangerous for yourself and the vehicle. You need to know how deep the water is and what the current is like.

Pack Worst Scenario Gear

With any luck, your off-roading trip will go off without a hitch. However, it’s always a good idea to pack for the worst-case scenario. On a basic level, you’ll need food & water, a first aid kit, and warm clothes. However, if your truck is stuck and you need to release yourself from the seatbelt, you’ll need a seat belt cutter on hand. Additionally, you may need to break the glass to escape, so make sure you have a suitable tool nearby.

Your off-road adventure should be fun, as long as you spend enough time planning the route, getting to know your vehicle, and buying the proper gear.

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4 Off-Roading Tips for Newbies

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