A great thing about owning a 4WD truck is that it can easily be taken on the trails for some off-roading fun.
If that great sport hasn't opened up on your horizon, basic wheeling is something to try and really enjoy!
Yet before venturing out to put tires off the pavement and onto the dirt roads, there are a few things that should be known.
Off-roading skills are gained by learning from experience; however, there are also a few basic yet important tips that every beginner should know.
1. Prior Truck Preparation
Assuming you have a stock off-road truck, preparation should include thinking about what can get broken and anticipating just that happening.
Lower antennas, remove items from the truck bed or tie them down, and always carry a full-size spare and a jack.
Check tire conditions and pressure, make sure all fluids are topped off, and the tank is full of gas.
Bring enough water and snacks for everyone who will be in your off-road truck.
2. Trucks Are Not Indestructible
As fun as off-roading looks, it can be really tough on the vehicles and just because you have 4WD doesn’t mean that truck is capable of a lot of what others may be doing.
There are countless ways to seriously damage an off-road truck if you do things that are geared more toward vehicles that have been modified to make them more capable.
Keep in mind that the underside of a truck is vulnerable to damage from rocks, tree roots and branches, and many other things on the trails.
Be careful crossing water and stick only to very shallow bodies or otherwise face accidentally sucking water into the engine or shorting out the electrical system by going too deep.
3. Go Slow and Steady to Stay Safe
Speed is dangerous on off-road trails as increased speed increases the risk of damaging your truck or losing control.
Always go slowly, especially when going up and down hills that should be done in 4WD-low gear.
Larger rocks are safely scaled by crawling over them and going through mud and sand is better done at speeds just fast enough to keep a good forward momentum.
4. Front Wheels Lead The Way
Where front wheels go, the rest of the truck will follow which is critical to know if trying to negotiate a rocky trail where you need to pick the easiest spots to drive over.
Wheels don't always so the way it is perceived from being behind the wheel of any off-road truck as they could actually not be positioned where you think they are.
When driving over worn trails, piles of rocks, and other obstacles that require precision, get out and make sure the tires are where they need to be - or rely on a spotter.
5. There Are Limitations
Adding to the point about off-road trucks not being indestructible, know your truck or Jeep's limitations to keep out of trouble.
This is where common sense comes in, where if it looks and feels like more than you can handle, avoid it.
Once you get more experienced and learn different ways to handle the terrain and different obstacles, then progress onto bigger things.
With experience will come the knowledge of what mods any truck will need to be more capable on the trail.
6. Respect The Trails
The first rule of off-roading etiquette is to leave no trace behind when done off-.
Respect the trails by only driving in designated areas and doing so carefully to avoid damaging them - and don’t drive off the marked trails.
Pick up anything you brought with and bring it back plus don’t interact with nature.
Lastly, respect others on the trails by being courteous, learn how off-road right of way works, and be as helpful as possible.
7. Do Not Go Alone
The first rule of thumb of off-roading safety is to never go onto the trails alone no matter what level of experience you are which is especially important to someone who is learning.
Only go off-road with a friend in another truck or Jeep so there is a source for help if something happens.
Have a means of communicating between each other in case you get separated.
Ready to Go?
By keeping these easy tips in mind, you are ready to do some wheeling in a stock 4WD truck to see what it’s all about in order to at least get a taste of off-roading which should be more than enough to decide if you want to do more.
In that case, build on these simple tips and learn from those more experienced who have even more great tips and techniques including how to modify your truck or Jeep to turn it into an off-road machine!