Off-roading is nothing like driving on a busy highway, and the driving skills needed to navigate rugged terrain are quite different from those used in getting to the office. As off-roading is the road less taken, figuratively speaking, it calls for more attention to safety and the vehicle, advanced driving skills, and knowledge of the various forms of off-road driving.
Luckily for beginners, the off-road community is welcoming and open to sharing their experiences with those interested in learning. Their knowledge is integral to help novice off-roaders learn how to get started.
Razi Salih is among many off-roaders who enjoy the activity, especially when it means driving his Jeep across some of nature’s most challenging terrains.
Understand the Different Forms of Off-Roading
Before preparing a vehicle to hit the trails, it’s vital to understand the different forms of off-roading activity. The different forms generally dictate the amount of vehicle preparation required, not to mention the type of experience to expect. Driving on light trails, for example, is an easy way to understand off-road driving without tackling significant challenges. It’s the best type of terrain for beginners, and probably the most accessible.
Know Your Vehicle
After taking stock of the type of terrain to expect, it’s wise to appraise your vehicle and become familiar with its features and strengths. The vehicle’s length and width, for example, will determine how tight a spot it can fit through. Inspecting the undercarriage, on the other hand, will reveal how much ground clearance the vehicle can offer. In addition to studying the vehicle itself, drivers can also turn to vehicle-specific forums for information. These forums are particularly useful for understanding the types of vehicle modifications that can be made.
Understand the Off-Roading Systems
Any off-road capable vehicle will have various systems that help to keep the car moving during an off-road adventure. Understanding these systems is important, as it will enable the driver to know which one to engage depending on the situation. These off-roading systems include:
- Traction Control: Traction control – either a simple on/off switch, or a more complex electrical system with different settings – helps to reduce wheel slip, ensuring optimal traction between the tyres and the ground.
- Locking Differential: A locking differential is the system that controls wheel turn speed. Typically, wheels rotate at different speeds to adjust to the terrain, with the vehicle’s computer system making the necessary changes. In many modern vehicles, this setting can be activated with the push of a button.
- 4WD High and Low: Four-wheel drive (4WD) High and Low refers to an off-road vehicle’s gear ratio. The ‘High’ gear ratio is suitable for daily driving and for maintaining momentum while on a trail. However, when more torque is needed to crawl over rocks, shifting to the ‘Low’ gear ratio is advised.