The Off-road Adviser

OFF-ROAD ADVISER

4×4 Off-Road Driving Techniques & Safety
4x4 Off-Road Driving Techniques & Safety

Have you ever been driving through a rural area and noticed a large pickup truck with huge tires driving along the side of the road? These vehicles are called 4x4s or four-by-four vehicles. There is more to these vehicles than meets the eye – it may seem that they can drive over anything, but if you look closer you can see that many 4x4s are equipped with off-road driving techniques.

This article will give you an overview of the different types of 4×4 vehicles out there today, the various off-road driving techniques used by 4×4 drivers, and some advice on how to use these techniques to go four-wheeling yourself!

 

What are 4×4 vehicles?

There are four types of 4×4 vehicles out there today, including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and other similar off-road vehicles. Although the names sound very similar, these all have different uses and many different designs. Though each type of vehicle is slightly different in design, the following information will apply to all of them.

A 4×4 vehicle is defined as a “vehicle with four-wheel drive, typically an off-road vehicle with high ground clearance and rugged construction” (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-four-by-four.htm). This means that the vehicle is designed to drive on sand, dirt, rocks, and other forms of terrain that cannot be driven over by ordinary cars.

The following paragraph will help you understand what 4×4 vehicles are all about: “4x4s typically feature a transfer case which relays power to all four wheels as well as hi- or low-range gearing. Most four-wheel-drive vehicles have both front and rear differentials, so each tire on the vehicle has its gear – this means that if one of your tires meets a slippery surface, you can continue to drive forward with ease” (http://www.ehow.com/about_5079607_history-four-wheel-drive.html).

 

How did 4×4 vehicles get started?

The first types of 4×4 vehicles were created back in the early 1900s, and they were originally called “Quad” because there were four wheels (four on each side of the vehicle). These early models had very few off-road driving capabilities and were only designed to drive through snow. At this time, these “Quad” vehicles were not capable of climbing hills or traversing other types of difficult terrain.

In the 1950s the Jeep was created and then renamed a 4×4 – after that most automobile companies began creating their models of 4×4 vehicles. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that 4×4 vehicles became popular.

Today, there are many different types of on-road vehicles on the market – but remember that they are not equipped to drive through sand or dirt! For this reason, if you intend to take your vehicle off-road then you will need a 4×4 vehicle.

 

Types of 4×4 vehicles

• Quads: These small four-wheel vehicles were created to carry heavy loads (such as lumber) through deep snow. They had no special off-road capabilities and could not even climb hills.

• Porsche 959: This was an on-road vehicle, designed to compete with the Ferrari. It had a total of four-wheel drive and could hold up to 560 horsepower!

• SUV: This off-road vehicle is now one of the most popular types on the market. Most SUVs have four-wheel drive capability, good fuel economy, and a high ground clearance level. They can easily climb hills, traverse through sand or mud, and generally get around off-road with ease.

• All-terrain vehicles: These vehicles, which include ATVs and similar vehicles, were created to transport people and supplies through the snow. However, today they are used for a wide range of activities including racing and many other exciting things – so if you want to have some 4×4 fun then why not invest in one of these?

• Military vehicles: These are some of the toughest types of 4×4 vehicles, with many high-tech features. They are meant for the military and though they may not be equipped to drive on public roads they were designed for off-road use.

 

The first thing you need to do is decide whether you need a 4×4 vehicle. Remember, they are generally more expensive than ordinary vehicles and they will require more fuel to run – this means that you must have a good reason for buying one!

You also need to take into consideration the type of terrain on which you want to drive on. This environmental information will help your decision-making process because 4×4 vehicles are designed for specific environments.

Sand:

If you plan on driving in the sand, then avoid using a regular car. Instead, buy one of the many 4×4 vehicles which are specially designed for this environment. These vehicles feature an extremely high ground clearance level so they can easily navigate through sand and they also have wide tires.

All-terrain vehicles:

If you want to drive through the sand at high speeds then an ATV is probably your best option! They are lightweight and made for speed, though they may struggle if you try to take them into water or steep hills. An all-terrain vehicle will be perfect for traversing sand, mud, or even snow!

Mud:

For driving through mud, 4×4 vehicles which are equipped with high ground clearance levels will help you out. Look for tires that have deep treads – the deeper the better! Remember to check how wide your vehicle’s tires are so you can make sure they’ll be able to fit on the wheels.

Snow:

If you are planning on driving your 4×4 vehicle through snow, then you will need tires with strong treads – so that they can effectively grip the road even when it’s wet and slippery. Remember to equip your vehicle with anti-lock brakes, traction control, and ABS – because these will help prevent skidding in slippery conditions. You should also look for a vehicle that has a high ground clearance level to avoid getting stuck in the snow.

Fire roads:

If you want to use your 4×4 vehicle on fire roads, ensure that it is fitted with extremely wide tires – because these will provide maximum grip when driving through high speeds. Also, make sure your vehicle features skid plates to avoid damage due to rocks.

Other terrains:

Before using your 4×4 vehicle on any other terrain besides sand, mud, or snow, test it out! Make sure that it can handle the terrain well and won’t get stuck in any situations. If you are planning to drive in areas with gravel, ensure that your vehicle is equipped with large tires so it can effectively grip the road.

 

  • It is also important to check how much ground clearance your 4×4 vehicle has. This will help you avoid accidents – since a higher level provides extra room for rocks and other obstacles to pass beneath the wheels without scraping them.
  • Finally, you should always keep your vehicle in good condition. Never let loose rocks or other debris become lodged underneath the wheels – because this could cause serious damage to your 4×4 vehicle. If you have a flat tire, change it as soon as possible so you can continue driving without any issues.
  • When going off-road, always ensure that someone is watching you, so they can assist if needed. You also want to ensure that you have good communication with your passenger(s) – in case something goes wrong and you get stuck!
  • Try to stay on dirt tracks whenever possible. Use the path of least resistance when driving off-road – since this will reduce the chance of getting stuck.
  • If you are driving in snowy areas, make sure that your 4×4 vehicle has anti-freeze fluids to protect the engine from freezing up. Heat it before starting by driving for a while on paved roads – then switch all of the electronics off and let it idle for about 20 minutes. This will allow the fluids to heat up before increasing the speed again.
  • 4×4 vehicles are best driven in low gear when going off-road. This will help you achieve good grip without spinning your wheels – so that you can travel through tough terrains with ease!

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