How to Drive Off-Road: A Beginner’s Guide

150 years ago, Edmund J DeSmedt laid the first asphalt road in the US. Today, almost all driving in America is done on smooth-surfaced roads with many drivers never knowing anything different.

These roads are great – they get us where we’re going, keep cars in good condition, and help us stay safe. Gliding smoothly along tarmac, however, is not the only thing our modern motor vehicles are capable of.

Some of us are forced to drive off-road for practical reasons such as our location or our jobs. For others, it’s the challenge of taking on the terrain that drives us to leave the asphalt behind.

How to Drive Off-Road

Going off-road is a perfect way to reintroduce ourselves to the thrill of driving, so long it’s done right. Before leaving the highway, we need to be sure we have the right vehicle, the right tires, and the right know-how.

What vehicle?

Driving into the country in a low-clearance sports car will only generate an embarrassing time and a large bill. The same can be said for most family and commuter vehicles which won’t fare much better in the great outdoors.

If you’re going off-road, you’ll need more; more clearance, more gearing, more stability, more protection, more control, and more drive. Four-wheel drive and a minimum ten-inch clearance are essentials for your off-road truck or SUV, then there are the tires.

What tires?

So, you’ve got yourself a nice Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Bronco, or Jeep Wrangler – the next thing to consider is tires. You wouldn’t go rock climbing in high heels, and you shouldn’t go off-road on smooth city tires.

In order to handle rough terrain and off-road conditions, you need tires with some added strength and traction. In general, good off-road tires should be reinforced against damage, puncture resistant, and feature deep and wide treads.

To get ultimate performance from your tires, you’ll need to choose a set to suit your terrain. Mud requires different tires to sand and rock, while snow, water, and ice will offer different challenges again.

For mixed terrains, a great all-rounder such as those offered by the innovative Dick Cepek Tires will make an ideal choice. Easily sourced from online providers like Tire Agent, these will deliver on performance, durability, and lifespan.

What know-how?

So, you’ve got the right vehicle and you’ve fitted the right tires, what else do you need to know? Off-road driving presents a whole host of challenges, so here are some basictips for a fun but safe experience.

Off-road driving tips

Be prepared

No matter how practiced or skilled you are, off-roading is a dangerous activity and accidents happen. Always have a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, food, water, warm clothes, and tools for breaking glass and cutting seat belts.

Plan ahead

Taking care of yourself in the short term isn’t the only thing you’ll need to do if an emergency occurs. Make sure your phone is charged, somebody knows where you are, and that you have numbers for recovery services.

Don’t get stuck

Know what to do if your vehicle gets stuck, continually accelerating and spinning your wheels will only make it worse. Stop as soon as you feel yourself getting into trouble and make sure your tow strap or winch are accessible.

Ease the pressure

On the road, tires are at their safest and most efficient when they are fully inflated for best performance. Off-road, letting a little air out increases your contact surface area, traction, and stability on many terrains.

Know your terrain

Setting out into the unknown without any research might seem exciting, but it’s a surefire way to get into difficulties. Your car, your tires, and your skills might not be appropriate for every type of terrain.

Knowing whether you’re facing rocks, mud, or water could be the difference between a good time, and a terrible one.

Of course, off-road drivingcomes with risks and needs a little preparation, but don’t let that put you off. The wilderness at our doorstep can be a great driving playground if we follow these simple tips for keeping safe.

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About the author

Alena Sham