By David Thorson
Off-roading can be a great deal of fun as long as you are organized before you go. It’s a great way to see out-of-the-way beauty spots and an interesting way to plan a family picnic, as long as you are prepared.
The type of off-road experience you can expect depends largely on both the size and toughness of your vehicle. If your 4×4 is a fairly new model it may not be up to serious off-roading; many new models are more into off road appearance rather than capability. If you are really serious about this challenging hobby, buy an older model and keep it strictly for that purpose; you need a chassis frame built to withstand all the punishment of the off-road obstacles that you will certainly encounter. Prepare your vehicle and yourself so this experience is one you’ll look forward to again and again.
Before leaving home think carefully about the following:
- How well do you know your vehicle? You need to know both its limits and yours.
- You must know how to use ALL the controls and know how the system works.
- Know where the jack and the spare tire are and how to use them.
- Know the approximate size and dimensions of your vehicle so that you can get through tight areas with ease.
- Know where the lowest point of clearance is, probably the differential casing.
- Practice using the low ratio gearbox and if it is equipped with manual locking hubs, try them out also.
- It is wise to know where your engine’s computer and air intake are so that you will know the maximum depth of water you can get across.
- Keep your hoses, belts and filters well maintained and remember to top up all your fluids.
- Be sure to pack emergency supplies as you never know whether you will find yourself stuck without help.
- Try not to go it alone, try to travel with at least one other vehicle, the more the merrier, and have at least one other passenger with you.
- Make all the necessary checks on your vehicle, check tires for correct pressure including the spare, check underneath for leaks and check steering and brakes.
- When you pack distribute the weight evenly and if you have added a roof rack make sure you take into consideration the extra height.
- Make sure you know where you are at all times and be aware that what may look like a small journey on a map could take hours in a Four Wheel Drive – allow plenty of time for safe travel.
- Never try a maneuver that you have any misgivings about, backing off early is the wise thing to do and that accepting that a maneuver is impossible will probably prevent damage to your vehicle and more important still, personal injury.
- Get a weather forecast for the area you intend to go to and be sure to carry some means of communication. A CB radio equipped with the weather service is ideal
Finally, always let someone know where you are going and arrange a time to contact them. Take the Sheriffs number in case of an emergency, and if you do find yourself in this situation DO NOT make the pre-arranged phone call as they might not send out the emergency teams, thinking you no longer need them.
As long as you make the right preparations, you’ll find off-roading is an enjoyable hobby as well as something you can share with the whole family.
Always think safety first and make sure your primary ATV vehicle is equipped with a CB Base Station. Having a base CB radio will allow you to monitor the weather or call for help if necessary.