For most off-roaders, off-roading is more than just driving. It’s a lifestyle that gives us plenty of thrills as we take on tough terrain and go off paved roads. When it comes to preparing for off-roading adventures, you must confirm that your 4X4 is well-equipped to take on whatever terrain you choose.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the basic modifications to make and mistakes to avoid when getting your 4×4 ready for off-road adventures:
Modifications to Make
Upgrade your tires
One of the first modifications to make to your ride is to upgrade to off-roading tires. These typically have better treads and are designed to take more off-road abuse than normal tires. Off-road tires are designed to handle different terrain so ensure you get the ones that suit your regular off-roading environment.
Get a suspension lift kit
A suspension lift kit is a game-changer when it comes to off-roading. It increases your 4x4s ground clearance, allowing you to easily navigate obstacles without damaging the undercarriage and also allows you to install bigger tires. They come in various sizes so choose one that suits your vehicle and needs. Remember to get the lift kit professionally installed for optimal performance.
Invest in skid plates and body armor
When off-roading, you quickly realize there’s a lot on the trail that can damage your vehicle’s undercarriage, paint job and other crucial components. Installing a durable skid plate ensures that vulnerable areas of your undercarriage are protected from damage. Body armor e.g., rock sliders and bumpers do the same by making sure critical areas of your vehicle are protected.
Install a winch
Off-roading always carries the risk of getting stuck. In such situations, a winch becomes a lifeline to help pull you or others out of mud, sand and other tricky spots. Install a high-quality winch with the appropriate capacity for your vehicle and learn how to safely use it before hitting the trails.
Install locking differentials
Navigating uneven surfaces or steep inclines can get tricky. Installing locking differentials ensures that power is evenly distributed to wheels that share an axle, increasing torque and providing better traction to navigate challenging terrain.
Mistakes to Avoid
Neglecting regular maintenance
Off-roading takes a heavy toll on your vehicle so it’s essential to stay on top of regular service and maintenance. To avoid unexpected breakdowns on the trail check the tire pressure and tread depth, tire rotations, oil and fluid changes and confirm that the brakes, wipers, lights, suspension, and battery, among others, are all in good working order.
Forgetting essential recovery gear
Your recovery gear is your lifeline should things go awry on the trail. Not having essential recovery items such as tow straps, recovery tracks, a shovel or a tire repair kit can leave you stranded. Always make sure to not only carry these tools but also learn how to use them.
Overloading your vehicle
Most of us are guilty of thinking that our 4x4s can carry whatever we want and we get carried away with packing all sorts of gear and equipment. However, overloading your vehicle can strain the suspension and negatively impact how it handles on the road. Learn to pack strategically and stick to your vehicle’s recommended weight limits.
Not knowing your vehicle’s limits (or yours)
It’s crucial to be aware of both your off-roading skills and your vehicle’s capabilities to ensure a safe off-roading adventure. Attempting overly challenging terrain without the right skills or equipment can lead to accidents and vehicle damage. It’s better to start with easier trails and work your way up as your skills and confidence improve.
While you may have faith in your abilities, going off-roading alone is not recommended. You may get stuck, your vehicle may get a mechanical problem or you may get lost and having no one to help you out can be disastrous. Going on off-roading adventures as part of a group is more fun and provides a level of safety.
If you’re planning an off-road adventure, ensuring your 4×4 is properly equipped and serviced will go a long way towards improving your safety and comfort during the trip.
To make sure your ride can take on whatever the trail throws your way, bring it to the Dixie 4 Wheel Drive auto store for service and maintenance both before and after your adventure. You can also contact us to help craft your dream 4×4 build or to clarify any questions you may have. We’re always happy to help out!