“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads,” quipped Dr. Emmett Brown in the closing scene of the first Back to the Future movie. If you are an avid four wheel enthusiast, you don’t need roads either. In fact, you probably prefer to be off the road enjoying the wilderness instead of staring at endless strips of pavement. If you decide to get your 4×4 a little dirty, the folks at Chuck Patterson, a Chico, CA-based Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep , Ram dealership gave us a few tips to make sure you get home safely at the end of the day.
Know Your Vehicle’s Limits
Just because you drive a 4×4 vehicle doesn’t mean it’s capable of driving up boulder-laden trails. It’s important to know the limits of your vehicles capability. Those that are into serious off-roading have vehicles that are built for it. Common sense prevails here. If a given trail looks too steep or too rocky don’t chance it; you could end up jamming parts of your undercarriage on rocks and creating a lot of damage.
Travel with Friends
People that do a lot of off-roading often travel with friends. This is smart because things can happen when you’re out on the trail, sometimes bad things – like rolling your vehicle over. An extra set of hands and eyes can mean the difference between making it home or dealing with an emergency situation by yourself. Off-roading with friends is just more fun too.
Lower your Tire Pressure
Especially with off-road types of tires, it’s a good idea to let some air out before hitting the trail. This is good for two major reasons. First, it softens the ride by allowing a tire’s sidewalls to flex more. Second, lower pressure allows your tires to grip the terrain better because they can deform more.
However, it’s important to note you shouldn’t go too low. A general rule of thumb is to keep your tire pressure in the mid-to-high teens range. If you let too much air out there’s a risk the tire will pull away from the rim and then you have a flat. By the way, to get the tires up to pavement pressure, most off-roaders carry a small air compressor with them.
Drive at a measured pace and allow your 4x4s suspension to do the job it was designed for. If you’re hotdogging it and hitting your vehicles chassis bump stops, things are going to rattle loose. If the ride is jarring everyone in the vehicle, it’s a safe bet you’re driving too hard.
Bring Recovery Gear
One of the best bits of advice while off-roading it to bring recovery gear. Serious off-roaders bring along tools, ropes and ratchet-winches. In fact, the real serious guys mount a power winch on the front of their 4×4 so they are immediately ready to pull their vehicle out of whatever mess they got themselves into.