5 Essential Things to Know About Off-Roading

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Ah, the thrill of going off-road! If you’ve done it, you know there’s nothing better than showing off your expertise and skill. However, if you haven’t, there are five essential things you need to know before you leave the road behind.

Know Your Vehicle

Honestly, nearly any vehicle can handle driving on a dirt road or even heading onto the beach if you know what you’re doing. Obviously, you might not want to take the smallest subcompact out on wet sand, but in most cases, it’s possible in dry conditions if you maintain momentum and a straight line of attack. Conversely, your little four-cylinder is not going to make it through deep, mud-filled ruts – especially if you have low ground-clearance.

4WD vs. AWD

There are always going to be those who use these terms interchangeably, but the reality is that they are different. Four-wheel drive (4WD), or 4x4 if you prefer, can be turned on when you need it to handle rugged conditions or need extra traction. All-wheel drive (AWD) is constantly on and improves control and grip under nearly all conditions. If you’re planning on extreme off-roading, your best bet is four-wheel drive. If you want something to handle most terrains, all-wheel drive will work, albeit with less fuel economy.

Understand Low Ranges

When delving into hazardous conditions with steep inclines and descents, the low ranges on your 4WD vehicle will make a huge difference in helping to maintain traction. This will also help when climbing over taller obstacles or rock faces.

Stability and Traction Control

While stability and traction controls are great on regular roads, it doesn’t provide much benefit when you’re off-roading. Stability control works by applying the brakes to individual wheels to prevent sliding or spinning, while traction control limits the power going to the wheels that are spinning. In off-road situations, both of these systems are better off disabled – check your owner’s manual to find out how.

Don’t Forget the Shovel

Whether you think your vehicle can handle the terrain or not, always have a shovel with you when off-roading. That way, if that little mud puddle is actually a deep pit that swallows half your tires, you’ll be able to get yourself out – eventually. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck (literally) and walking for help and the nearest tow truck.

Off-roading is a thrill, especially when you know how to do it properly. If you want to make sure your vehicle’s up to the task, contact YourMechanic for an inspection or more information on how to use the various systems on your vehicle properly when off-roading.


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Richard

15 years of experience
60 reviews
Richard
15 years of experience
Ford F-150 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Fremont, California
Excellent communicator, walked me through the fixes and even gave me an idea of what might be next on the fix list.
Dodge Grand Caravan - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Union City, California
quickly diagnosed the problem but knew it would take longer than appt time to fix. since we had appt the next day for brakes he rearranged his schedule to do it all together the next day. very knowledgeable, friendly, and professional.

Tung

14 years of experience
285 reviews
Tung
14 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Mableton, Georgia
Very detailed and customer service oriented. Did an amazing job fixing my back brakes and even set-up a schedule of future appointments for my car!
Ram 1500 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Marietta, Georgia
Tung showed up on time and was very friendly. Changed my brake pads in about 30 minutes and gave me recommendations on when to change the rear pads. Will ask for him by name next time.

Horus

9 years of experience
103 reviews
Horus
9 years of experience
Land Rover Range Rover - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - San Antonio, Texas
Horace worked on my Land Rover today. Showed up on time and was professional and courteous. Replaced front and rear break pads. Great job!

Juan

11 years of experience
37 reviews
Juan
11 years of experience
Dodge Avenger - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Mountain House, California
Was very thorough in explaining the condition of the car and how the repairs will impact it’s service.

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