Photo by Kelson Downes
Originally Posted On: Preparing Your Car For An Off-Roading Adventure (motorverso.com)
If you have been desperately searching for lockdown activities that don’t involve baking, TV, or jigsaw puzzles, then look no further. As a car enthusiast, you might have been off-roading before, but if you haven’t, this might be the perfect opportunity for you to try it. Off-roading in your car is fun, adventurous, and doesn’t break any COVID-19 social distancing rules. There’s no time like the present, and the present is somewhat restricted right now, so why not try some off-roading for your next lockdown adventure?
Preparing your car for off-roading takes some time and is a step that shouldn’t be overlooked. Without proper preparation, you could wind up putting yourself and your vehicle at risk. Particularly in the wet, cold winter months, your car should be fully prepared for any slippery, sludgy terrain before you set off on your trip. Here are a few ways you should prepare your car for an off-roading adventure!
1. CHECK YOUR TYRES
The requirements for off-roading safety all come down to your tyres at the end of the day. The suspension, balance, grip, and power of your vehicle are susceptible to the quality and type of tyres you use on your car. Presuming that you are driving a car with 4×4, you should have tyres that match your vehicle’s power and size.
Before you go off-roading into slippery, muddy territory, check your tyres. Inflating them before the trip is a pretty obvious step, so what else needs to be done? Well, it is also vital to research the best tyres for off-roading on your terrain. If you live in a hot, dry place, you will need different tyres than if you will be driving through snow, mud, or ice. Ensure that you complete as much research as possible and replace your tyres if necessary. You can buy 4×4 wheels online or from a local supplier. It is better to enter into an off-roading experience with the confidence that your tyres can handle whatever terrain is thrown their way.
2. ADJUST YOUR SUSPENSION
As you may already know, your car’s suspension is an essential component of driving on uneven ground. The fundamental role of suspension is to give you as smooth a ride as possible when your vehicle encounters potholes, bumps or other rough ground. Your car’s front and back suspensions increase the friction between the vehicle and the earth, meaning that your car won’t be shot up into the air with unnecessary force when you hit a bump.
For off-roading, the suspension of your car is a significant factor. Adjusting the suspension for off-roading will maximise your safety because your car will feel lower to the ground and be as “gripped” to the terrain as possible. The suspension is crucial for safety when mud, holes, and bumps come into play.
So how can you adjust the suspension of your car? It is best to have a mechanic do the work if you are not familiar with it yourself. However, if you feel like taking on the challenge yourself, there are step by step guides on exactly how to adjust your car’s suspension for off-roading.
3. PROTECT YOUR BODYWORK
When you go off-roading, you are taking the chance that your car might become scratched, dented, or damaged on the trip. You never quite know what the terrain will be like, even if you have done this route before. Weather, time of year, and the car you drive will all be factors that contribute to the risk of damage.
Certain extra pieces of protection, such as skid plates, are useful to install before you go off-roading. These aren’t essential but will help you feel safer when you go off-piste. Skid plates are like bumper covers that will protect your car if the car’s nose makes contact with the ground. A skid plate will protect your vehicle and avoid hefty bills if your bumper needs to be replaced or repaired after the trip.
4. UNDERSTANDING THE LIMITS OF YOUR VEHICLE
If you have never taken this specific vehicle off-roading before, you should know what you are dealing with. Different sizes, shapes, and engine sizes can tackle different levels of terrain, and you must know what your car can handle before you set off. You want to have fun and push yourself on an off-roading trip, but going too far can result in dangerous consequences.
How do you find out how good your car is for off-roading? Check out its specifications on the car brand site; if your car is too old and out of production, make sure to speak with a mechanic about its specifications to understand the risks. Generally, larger vehicles with four-wheel drive are ideal for off-roading; smaller hatchbacks tend not to be as powerful when taking the car off flat roads and into water, mud, snow, and ice.
5. PACK YOUR SUPPLIES
Off-roading isn’t exactly a James Bond movie level of car-wrecking adventurousness, but you should still be well prepared for anything that could happen on your trip. Here are a few supplies you should bring.
- A spare tyre or two, in case you hit sharp rock which causes a flat.
- A heavy duty tool kit; assuming you know how to use the kit tools – if you don’t, perhaps get to know the toolkit before you set off.
- A head torch for each person. You might not be planning to be out after dark, but if you get delayed or stuck, you will be thankful you brought the torch.
- Your phone and a car charger. You don’t want to be caught off-guard if you need to call for assistance.
- A shovel. This sounds very Cabin In The Woods, but a shovel would be useful if your car becomes stuck, and you need to dig around the tyres to drive away.
- Driving gloves. If you take a more extended trip that will require hours of driving, you should consider taking gloves with you. You are likely to be gripping the steering wheel constantly to keep the car from skidding, and if you form blisters, let’s say that the drive home will be rather painful.
- Plenty of food and drink. If you get delayed, the last thing you need is hunger and thirst to add to your stress.
6. HAVE YOUR BRAKES CHECKED
If you have not recently had your car serviced and your brakes checked, do so before you go off-roading. You will be using the brakes almost always when driving over incredibly choppy terrain, and if they are not in the best condition, this could end in disaster. Ensure your brakes have no faults or wear and tear before you set off on your adventure.
Many independent garages will check your brakes for free, particularly if you are having any other repairs done at the same time. Chains are more likely to charge you as standard procedure, so go local for your pre-trip brake check.
In conclusion, you should be sure to complete this checklist before you go on an off-roading trip. If you are unsure about your car’s suitability for off-roading, have it looked at by a professional before deciding to go. This guide will help you be safe while driving off-road; it will also allow your car to stay as free from damage as possible if you have any hairy moments. Off-roading is a fun adventure that will ease your stress over the lockdown period!