Top Ten Off-Roading Tips - Safety Rules for Off Road

Thinking of getting off the beaten track, and taking your off-road vehicle out for a spin? Off-roading can be tremendous fun and a great experience but, without proper training, it can also be very frustrating or even dangerous. Take a look at these top ten tips for safer off-roading.
Off roading trip
1. Check Terrain on Foot Whenever Possible
You may think that trying terrain on foot first is time consuming, but this can actually save you a great deal of time. A short walk ahead to survey the terrain could save you hours of shovelling or damage to your vehicle. Assess the terrain for any hidden dangers. Measure the depth of streams and bodies of water – look for potential problems before they occur.

2. Know Thy Off-Road Vehicle as Thyself
Get to know all aspects of your car – How much ground clearance does it have? How wide is it? How tall is it? Do you know what is located on the underside that might react badly to a jagged rock? If you aren’t sure, always underestimate until you are confident. As you get better at off-roading, you will develop a feel for what your vehicle can and can’t do.

3. Always Read the Manual
You might take it as a point of pride that you can work your television without having read the manual, but then your television is unlikely to leave you stuck in a huge pool of mud, or upside-down at the bottom of a trench. Never assume you know how your vehicles systems work, because by the time you need them, it will be too late to learn.

4. Keep an Eye on the Weather
Always be aware of what the weather will be like when you are going off-roading, as things like rain and snow can reduce grip, requiring you to change your driving style. If you do get caught in heavy rain, your best bet is to head for high ground, where it will usually be dryer.

5. Choose an Appropriate Off-Road Vehicle
This may seem obvious, but if you’re going to go off-road, ensure you’re in a car that can handle it. Features such as high ground clearance and even weight distribution are a must, as is four-wheel drive. Cars such as the Outlander (available at are a great choice for this.

6. Hill Climbing – A Steep Learning Curve
Hills are part of what makes off-roading so much fun, but they also require quite a bit of work to master. When you’re going up a hill, always use the highest gear in which the car will still pull. Using too low a gear will cause your wheels to spin. This can be a bit of a balancing act though, as if the gear you select is too high, you won’t have enough power to climb the hill. You also want to make sure you keep your car straight – never try and turn while on the hill. This may take some practice to get right. Some hills defeat even the most experience drivers, so always have a way out of a failed climb. When going back down a hill, always use first gear and try not to break too often. Just like on the ascent, don’t try and turn the vehicle.

7. Take the Right Equipment with You
Off Road Equipment
Always try and plan ahead. Think about the situations you might find yourself in. Fit appropriate off-road tyres or snow tyres as appropriate, and carry equipment to help get you out of jams, such as a shovel, a jack and a tow strap. Also think about what you’ll need if your vehicle gets stuck and you need to continue on foot. Pack plenty of water and food, a map and wear clothing and footwear appropriate for the terrain you will be driving on – It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

8. Take Care with Water
Whilst driving through water can be fun, don’t get over-confident. As a general rule, only drive through water that you would be comfortable swimming in – fast flowing water can be just a perilous in a car. When you enter a body of water, you need to accelerate in order to create a ‘bow wave’ – a small wave at the front of your car that will push water away from your front grill and avoid damaging your cars systems.

9. Don’t Be Afraid to Give Up!
If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, perhaps even literally, don’t be afraid to call it quits. Even the best driver with the best vehicle gets defeated by Mother Nature sometimes. If the terrain is too rough, just turn around and find a more accessible route. It’s never worth damaging your vehicle, or injuring yourself.

10. Check your Car before Returning to the Road
Before you head back on to the main road, stop and check your car to ensure it’s safe for road travel. Can you see out of all of the mirrors? Are all of the lights and indicators visible? Is the number plate obscured? You’ll also want to check for damage to the tyres and other areas.
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