So you finally got your hands on a Jeep. You’ve been waiting for this for years, patiently saving up for the day when you could finally ditch the crappy sedan, get behind the wheel and hit the road. But not just any road. Not a paved one with asphalt and painted lines. The roads that wind through mountains and deserts and disappear into rivers.
Off-roading is an art. It takes practice and skill to do it right, especially if you don’t want to damage your brand new vehicle (and yourself). So before you hit the trail, check out these off-road tips for new Jeep owners.
Know Your Vehicle
Any adventure requires preparation and the most basic preparation is knowing your limits. For example, if you’re especially prone to heatstroke, you wouldn’t hike in a desert during the hottest part of the day. If you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t go rock climbing. You need to know the limits and capabilities of your vehicle as well. You don’t need to memorize exact numbers and measurements, nor do you need to get out and measure angles while on the road, but you should have a grasp of your Jeep’s ground clearance as well as its front and rear angles.
Confidence is an important part of off-roading, but you don’t want overconfidence to land you in a sticky situation, such as in the middle of a river that just hydrolocked your engine and is flooding the interior. Know the fording depth, or maximum depth of water your Jeep can operate in, before going on any route that may require you to pass through water.
Read the Route
This ultimately takes practice and experience, but one thing that will improve your off-road adventures is reading your route. Doing so requires more than just keeping your eyes on the road, it requires you to anticipate what’s ahead, to adjust long before you reach any obstacles. You’ll want to keep your gaze high. If you’re about to ascend a muddy hill, plan which rocks you’ll put your tires on for traction before you start up the incline. Watch for where the trail disappears into a potentially steep slope.
Sometimes, you won’t be able to read the route from the comfort of your Jeep. You may need to get out and walk ahead to strategize your next move or check the depth of water before you cross.
Adjust Tire Pressure
When on normal roads, high tire pressure is crucial, but you won’t be taking normal roads. While off-roading, you’ll need to adjust your tire pressure depending on the situation. Driving across the desert at high speed? Don’t worry about reducing pressure. But low pressure equals more traction. It allows your tires to flex around rocks for more grip. Low pressure also helps the Jeep stay on top of deep snow and sand. When you need to reduce your pressure, eight psi is a good number to keep it at. Just remember that lower pressure means less ground clearance.
With these tips and your new Jeep, you’ll be addicted to adventure in no time.
Photo by rvcroffi via Flickr | Licensed under CC BY 2.0 | Cropped from original
3 Off-Road Tips for New Jeep Owners