To the average car driver, the thought of off-roading may seem odd, but who wants to be an average car driver? More and more people are discovering the fun and thrills of off-roading, allowing them to get off the same old highways that everyone else is driving down and discover what the great outdoors really has to offer. Put simply, the world becomes your road, but if you’re new to off-roading, or thinking about buying an SUV for the first time, it can seem daunting. Here are five things to know that will take you from off-roading novice to expert.
1. You’ll Find It Exhilarating
The first thing to know about off-roading is the most important one – you’re going to love it. There’s something about heading off the beaten track in a rugged SUV that makes you feel full of energy and happy with life. Do you remember how exciting driving felt when you first passed your test? Eventually it becomes mundane, but driving off-road gives you that thrill all over again. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to do it again and again.
2. Find the Vehicle That’s Right for You
SUV and 4×4 vehicles are purpose-built to be great at off-roading, but like all categories of motor vehicle, not all models are the same. You’ll have lots of decisions to make; for example, should you prioritize value for money, or go for a leading manufacturer such as Jeep who have a rich history in this sector? If possible, you should try to test drive more than one model, so that you can find one that feels perfectly right for you.
3. Understand the Gears
Driving off-road tests your automobile skills to the limit, but that’s what makes it so enjoyable – it’s a test of ‘you versus the environment’, just like our forefathers had to face. The key to successful off-roading is to make precise driving decisions at the right time, and to understand the gears. Practice makes perfect, but as a rule of thumb, when you need to keep momentum going and travel quite quickly, keep your four-wheel drive vehicle in a high gear.
4. You Should Carry Essential Kit with You
You never know what can happen on an off-roading adventure, so always be prepared and ensure that you have the essential kit on board. Have a fully charged cell phone, bottles of water and some high energy food, and a first aid kid. You should also have a fire extinguisher, a strong strap, a winch and MaxTrax or a similar traction device.
5. Know When to Stop Driving
If you get stuck when off-roading, there comes a point when putting your foot to the metal will only make things worse. Eventually your vehicle will dig further into the mud surface, making extraction even tougher. Stop accelerating and put a traction device under the wheels to give them something to grip onto. You may need to use a winch attached to a tree or other strong point, so ensure that you know how to use one correctly.
Yes, off-roading may involve you becoming stuck, wet and frustrated at times, but with practice and a calm approach, you can soon overcome these difficulties. It will also involve you falling in love with driving again, and with a smile all over your face. That’s why off-roading is the most fun you can have on four wheels.