Off-roading can be awesome fun but you have to try and rein in that enthusiasm in places and think safety when it’s needed if you are going to enjoy an adventure that doesn’t end in disaster.
There are a number of classic driver errors and an unintentional failure to prepare your vehicle that can combine to put you more at risk than you need to be, so here are some tips and insights on how to prepare for some off-roading fun without any dramas.
Before you go
If you are behind the wheel of a vehicle like the Jeep Grand Cherokee you are going to want to put it through its paces and have some off-roading fun but you need to do a few things before you head for the dunes or into the mountains.
The first thing to do is to plan a route that you are going to take and then make sure that at least one other person knows where you are heading and when you are expected to be back.
You simply don’t know if you are going to end up in a heap of unexpected trouble and if you find yourself stranded, injured or in general need of some assistance if you haven’t told someone, where you are going, there could be a long wait for help to arrive.
Social media makes it really easy to post a message to friends and family, so at least they can look out for you as well as checking out how much fun you are having.
Check out the route
Once you have decided on a specific off-road route you are going to take make sure you don’t make the rookie error of not scoping out the terrain beforehand.
You don’t want to find out about a steep incline that your vehicle can’t handle by plummeting down it and cause you and your vehicle some potential damage. If you know someone who has already driven that route, talk to them about the potential hazards, if not, try to get a good vantage point to look at where you are going to be headed or even use Google Earth to carry out a quick survey of the area.
Check your tires
It can’t be stressed enough how important your tires are to the safety and performance of your vehicle.
Using worn-out tires is never a good idea but it becomes a dangerous one if you think you can go off-roading on a dodgy set of tires. Make sure they are in good condition and also check that you have them at the right pressure for the terrain and conditions you will be facing.
Be wary of water
A big part of off-roading fun is to take your vehicle across challenging terrain, including water hazards.
The problem comes when you find yourself stuck in the mud or worse still, you get into serious trouble because the water is too deep and your engine’s air intake sucks in water.
Always test the water depth before negotiating it in your vehicle. Standing water often manages to hide the sort of mud that anchors you down and if you don’t gauge the depth you are running the risk of losing control altogether and breaking down in the water.
If you follow these simple steps and rules they are going to help make sure you have positive stories to tell when you get home, rather than talking about a disaster that might have been avoidable.