Whether you’re a beginner or at an advanced level, there are a several factors you need to consider before taking your vehicle off-road. Here are some do’s and dont’s.
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We’ve been asked:
Dear Drive, how do I prepare for off-roading?
Preparation is key when taking your vehicle off-road. Whether you’re a first-timer or have ample experience, there are various factors that need to be taken into account before you head off the tarmac.
Off the back of our off-roading excursion on Drive TV, we thought we’d share some tips to ensure you have a thrilling and safe experience.
Here are some do’s and don’t of off-roading:
Conduct a thorough vehicle check
Before hitting the road, it’s imperative to check vital components in your vehicle. This includes topping up fluids, checking filters, battery life, brakes, headlights, and tyres, just to name a few. If your car is close to its scheduled servicing date, best to book it in before you travel. It’s also important you’re carrying necessary recovery gear and a tool kit, in case you run into any problems.
Pay attention to tyre pressures
Tyre pressures are crucial when heading through a vast array of conditions. Firstly, check your tyres and spare tyre, along with the tread before you depart. Tyre pressures will vary depending on whether you’re driving through sand, rocks, mud and gravel roads, but the correct pressures will ensure that you tackle terrains successfully, while looking after your car.
Know your vehicle
The term off-roading is self explanatory, in that you’ll be driving on different types of surfaces. This means that knowing how your vehicle operates, and what systems it’s equipped with is essential. What’s more, make sure you’re aware of how to engage low range, rear diff locks (if fitted), along with any off-road modes specific to the terrain that you’re on.
Bring a friend
On our recent Drive TV excursion to the Victorian High Country, we lucked in with a spot on the Isuzu IVenture club tour. The tour is suited to all levels, and while you might not want to travel with a large group, we encourage you to have a companion, at the least. A lot of tracks around Australia are in remote areas, and if you happen to run into any issues, it’s handy to have a partner. By having someone beside you, they can spot for you, assist you through any difficult situations, and stay on top of directions.
Check the weather
It’s a good idea to check the weather before heading on your off-roading journey. Low visibility, slippery terrain and rainy conditions can be dangerous, especially if you’re not used to driving in these situations. While you’re researching beforehand, it’s a good idea to map out your route and learn the location of important facilities, like hospitals and petrol stations. With limited reception in remote locations, ensure you have a hard copy map in the car.
Don’t Do This:
Bring a vehicle that’s overweight
Carrying too much weight at any given time can be extremely dangerous, more so when you’re driving through tougher conditions. Therefore, knowing your vehicle’s maximum capacity is a must. Overloading your car can affect tyres, suspension and traction control, and can even have a negative impact on your brakes. If you’re thinking of loading up with gear and/or people, be safe and do thorough checks.
Be disrespecful to the environment and surroundings
Depending on where you’re driving, some areas can back onto private properties, so be respectful. This means, leave everything as you found it, like gates for example. What’s more, Australia is home to beautiful creatures, so don’t be a hoon and look out for wildlife.
Go it alone
As mentioned above, road trips can be a lot more fun when they are conquered with a friend. If you’re new to off-roading then we encourage you to join a club, to receive the right support and guidance.
While it might be fun to hit the road without any plans, and take it day by day, off-roading is a whole other kettle of fish. While having fun is a must, preparation is crucial to ensuring a smooth and seamless adventure. Therefore, as mentioned, conduct checks, research, and if you happen to be travelling to remote areas, then it’s always a good idea to let someone know exactly where you’re travelling to before you depart.
Push your limits
Off-roading is a fun experience, and can be extremely rewarding. However, some tracks are more challenging than others, so know your limits, don’t make decisions you might regret, and always consider ypur approach.
Have a question about your next set of wheels, or just need some car advice? No query is too big, small or obscure! Call in to the radio show (Trent on 2GB Sydney 1:30pm Monday and 9:00pm Wednesday, 5AA South Australia 1:30pm Tuesday, and James on 3AW Melbourne 9:00pm each Thursday), or contact us by email here: email@example.com.