If you’re heading off-road for the first time, or are new to the 4×4 driving scene, don’t make your ride rougher than it needs to be. More often than not, 4×4 drivers go about off-road driving the hard way. Want to get ahead of the crowd?
We’ve put together this handy list of some of the most common mistakes newbie 4×4 drivers make.
For rookies and experts alike – these tips are for you!
Driving The Wrong Vehicle
When you think of off-road driving, what comes to mind? Maybe a rugged mountain road, or soft sand dunes. Whatever your driving dreams, it’s crucial you take the right vehicle. A hatchback, sedan, or even an SUV isn’t going to cope well when you head away from the tarmac.
You might think your all-wheel drive vehicle is able to cope with this terrain, but these cars simply aren’t the same as four-wheel drive models.
They’re not designed for off-road driving – as they have low ground clearance, gear ratios, and suspension of AWDs, and use tyres with limited offroad grip, they’ll quickly get stuck on the rugged routes.
You might have fantasies about jumping in your 4×4 and seeing where the day takes you, but off-road driving requires preparation for you and your vehicle. You’ll want to have the right equipment and accessories on hand before you set out.
Make sure your 4×4 is equipped with the right accessories to make your drive as smooth as possible.
• Suspension kits, for a comfortable drive
• Snorkels, to prevent contaminants such as dust and water from entering the engine
• Electric winches, which can help your vehicle tow heavy materials
• Lights, to improve visibility in difficult conditions or when driving for long periods
• Recovery boards, a snap strap, or a shovel to get you out of trouble
As the saying goes, ‘location, location, location.’ This doesn’t just apply to real estate – it also applies to 4×4 driving. Before you set out, make sure you have the appropriate permits for your destination and deflate your tyres as needed.
You might also check in with the locals, or with condition reports, to assess the conditions of the road, track, and tide. This prep will prevent you from turning up to track closures or a treacherous tide.
Even the most seasoned drivers should be prepared for complications. Besides your accessories, make sure you have ample supplies in case you need to spend time in your car – or time digging out your wheels. Take water, food, and medication for the road, and make sure you’ll be travelling to an area where your phone carrier has service.
Taking Too Much
A common pitfall of beginner off-road drivers is overloading. Once you load your vehicle, check out your suspension. Is it high enough to cope with the terrain? Check the load ratio, especially your roof rack. Is it carrying too much? If so, you could lose your rack, break your roof, topple over, hit obstacles, and even cop a fine.
Check your load if you’re towing. Are you within the recommended limits? Have you done some dry runs to test weight management? You can never be too prepared.
Being Overly Ambitious
We know you’re enthusiastic about 4×4 driving – so are we. But don’t let your passion overtake your common sense. Do a few short trips before you invest money in accessories and mod cons. Join a club or driving group that offers weekend trips or training. Learn about your vehicle along the way and go a year before you take a big adventure.
Planning a 4×4 adventure? Choose Southlakes 4×4
Embrace the outdoors with Southlakes 4 x 4. We proudly stock a great range of products designed to offer the ultimate comfort and safety for every offroad trip.