Koby Schurr in Automotive Jun 3, 2019 · 1 min read · ~100

4x4 Tips Every Off-Road Driver Should Know

It may not be possible to drill down to the essential knowledge of ‘wheeling — but that won’t stop us from trying! If you’re new to off-road driving, you need to know the basics. These basics can be grouped into five categories of information: how to pick a 4x4, how to build your vehicle, how to tune your vehicle, how to make good decisions, and how to drive on the trail. 

4x4 Tips Every Off-Road Driver Should Know 

Choosing your vehicle

Dimensions. Smaller dimensions perform better most of the time. You want a vehicle with short rear overhangs, steep approach angles, and more open space underneath.

Weight. A lighter vehicle is preferred over a heavier one. Lighter trucks and Jeeps use less power but have better traction and flotation.

Wheelbase. The challenge with wheelbase is to balance performance and stability. Usually, this balance is achieved when the wheelbase is 90-100”. A shorter wheelbase gives up too much instability. A longer wheelbase negatively impacts your clearance and approach angles.

Build-ability. Some trucks are relatively easy to modify, while others are not. High-tech features can be particularly problematic. For example, you’ll have trouble making upgrades and modifications on a truck that has traction control or hill descent control.

Tuning your vehicle

Tire pressure. Adjusting your tire pressure to the terrain is a common method of tuning if you know what you’re doing. Although tire pressure tuning is a relatively complex topic, we can cover a few basic rules here. First, don’t lower your tire pressure unless you have a way to air your tires back up. You would air down your tires to increase the area of the contact patch. A tire with less air has a better gripping performance on uneven surfaces, thus it provides better traction. On soft terrain, the aired-down tire is less likely to sink.

The right “aired-down” pressure for your rig depends on the vehicle weight, the tire size, and whether or not you have a deadlocked rim. Generally, you can safely reduce your street tire pressure by 25% to realize the improved off-road traction and flotation. At a minimum, on mild off-road terrain, you’d get a smoother ride.

Making good decisions

Tread lightly. Make sure you respect the trail. Not doing so just increases the likelihood that you and all four-wheelers will be banned from the adventures we love most. Don’t venture off the trails, leave trash behind, or cause unnecessary damage.

Driving proficiency

Hitting the throttle. Develop a fine touch on the throttle, so you can avoid using too much or too little. You should be able to provide just the right amount of throttle at the right time, on instinct.

Using gears. Gearing steps in a 4x4’s drivetrain are simply torqued multipliers. At lower gears, the torque is multiplying more. At higher gears, the torque is multiplying less. In either case, the amount of torque interacting with the tires and ground surface affects your traction. When there’s more torque than necessary, the tire spins. To reduce the torque, you can shift up or lighten up on the throttle.

Source : https://www.ocamindustries.com.au/