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4WD Off Roading Tips Every Beginner Needs to Know

Most people who own a 4WD vehicle never take it off the road. They buy the vehicle with 4WD for higher resale or maybe to drive to and from work in the snow. If you’re ready for some real adventure, it’s time to take it off roading.

4WD off roading can take several forms which will depend on the terrain you’ll be driving in. Regardless of the conditions preparation and safety are your top priorities.

If you’re new to off roading, keep you and your passengers safe by following these important tips.

Understand the Basics

If you’ve never been 4WD off roading, it’s important to learn some of the basic terminologies before you even climb behind the wheel.

4X4 High

All-purpose 4WD mode. It differs from standard 2WD in that all 4 tires are powered and engaged.

4X4 Low

4WD mode with a lower gear engaged. Your top speed will be lower because you’ll have higher torque in the wheels. Used in more difficult terrains and in helping you to get “unstuck.”

Locking Differential

This indicates how fast the wheels are turning. In most 4WD modes, each wheel spins at a different speed in order to accommodate for the differing terrain. When you lock your differential, the wheels will all spin at the same speed. Another useful tip for when you get stuck.

Approach Angle

The maximum incline a 4WD vehicle can handle without having the suspension or any other vehicle part touch the surface.

Expect the Unexpected

Once you know the basic terminology, it’s time to start prepping your vehicle to go 4WD off roading. Off roading vets will tell you to always expect, and prepare, for the unexpected. Here’s a quick list of items to have with you when you set out on your adventure:

  • Full tank of gas
  • Tow ropes
  • Portable air compressor
  • Spare tire(s)
  • First aid kit
  • Shovel
  • Spare tanks of water
  • Two-way radios (often no cell service where you’re headed)
  • High-lift jack

If you have these items on hand, you’ll normally be able to get yourself out of any trouble you may run into.

Prepare Your Tires

Tires are the single most important piece of gear when you’re 4WD off roading. Ensuring that you have the proper tires and that they’re prepared for your journey are very important to ensure you have a safe trip.

First, make sure you change your tires to all-terrain tires. The tires your vehicle came with are optimized for road driving. They will not hold up offroad, so invest in some good all-terrain tires that will help you to manage your vehicle off the beaten path.

The next question that 4WD off roading beginners often ask: Should You Lower Your Tire Pressures When You Take Your 4WD Offroad? The short answer is yes. But you’ll need a tire gauge and deflator to help you achieve the correct pressure.

Know Your Limitations

Once you’ve prepared your vehicle and you know you’re stuff, it’s time to head out 4WD off roading. It’s important on these first few trips to know your limitations. Go slow. Don’t tackle extreme terrain (like bouldering or river crossing).

Have Fun 4WD Off Roading

Last but not least, have fun! 4WD off roading can get seriously addictive and is a wonderful way to escape from it all! Be prepared and be safe and you’ll always have a great time!

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