Tips for Driving Off-Road
Posted onFor some car enthusiasts, there’s nothing quite like leaving the city behind and literally getting off the beaten path. Whether you live in the mountains, at the beach, or in the country, off-roading is a great way to see some sights, enjoy nature, and spend time with friends and loved ones.
Off-roading may be a fun, family-friendly activity, but it doesn’t come without risk. A lack of knowledge about how to off-road safely can not only result in injuries but permanent damage to your vehicle and your rims!
Fortunately, with a little preparation and our list of tips for driving off-road, your next adventure can be as safe as it is fun. And remember, even if you do find yourself with wheel damage, the rim repair experts at RGX can help.
How to Drive Off-Road Safely
Get the lay of the land.
If the trail is unfamiliar, check for obstacles that may not be immediately apparent. Even a trail you are familiar with can change as a result of weather or heavy usage. So whether you’re driving on a new trail or one you’ve taken a thousand times, it’s a good idea to observe your surroundings before getting started.
Plan your route.
When off-roading, you should always be looking ahead. This allows you to plan your “line” at least ten feet ahead of you and gives you an idea of where your tires need to be at any given point. Remember though, your line isn’t set in stone. You may try a route that just doesn’t work. Instead of powering through it and risking damaging your rims off-road, take the time to reassess the situation and find a better path.
Keep a close eye out for potholes.
As you probably well know, nothing can damage your tires and rims faster than hitting a pothole the wrong way. As we’ve mentioned, severe weather and heavy use can change a trail drastically in a short period of time, meaning a pothole can pop up where there wasn’t one before. Be sure to scan the road ahead of you for potholes and remember, if your wheels do get damaged by a pothole, RGX Rim Repair has the tools to help.
Make sure you have the right tires.
It is absolutely essential when off-roading to ensure you have the right kind of tires. There are so many different kinds of tires, and the ones you need will really depend on the terrain you’re traversing, but finding the right set doesn’t have to be hard. Thankfully, 4 Wheel Parts has done the hard work for you by reviewing the best off-roading tires for jeeps and trucks.
Keep your distance.
If you’re off-roading with a group, remember to leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. The tires of the vehicle in front of you can easily kick up rocks, large and small, and cause serious damage to your windshield, paint job, or your wheels’ chrome plating!
Be cautious around water.
Crossing water can be incredibly dangerous. Even a small stream can sweep your car away in an instant, especially if there is a risk for flash flooding. It can also be difficult to determine the true depth of water until you’re in it and, by then, it may be too late to avoid flooding your engine. The point is, you should take extra care when off-roading through water, no matter how small the stream may be.
Steer clear of big rocks.
Though off-roading vehicles are typically well-equipped to handle large rocks, accidents do happen. For example, if your tires slip and you slide off the rock, you can bend your wheels. And, since bent rims ruin tires, that’s something you should avoid at all costs. If you don’t, you may have to get your wheels straightened or even get new tires mounted.
Know what tire pressure is best for the terrain.
It’s a common practice to “air down” before going offroad. The general principle is that less air in your tires means there’s more surface area for the rubber to make contact with the ground and obstacles. More surface area means more traction and the more traction, the better. That said, you must bear in mind that low tire pressure isn’t ideal for traveling at high speeds and it makes you more prone to punctures. And, let’s face it, nobody wants to have to repair or replace a tire.
Prepare for the worst.
It’s pretty easy to get into a sticky situation when off-roading. To combat this, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared with the tools needed to get a car unstuck. Every off-roader should be equipped with a tow strap, preferably one that’s at least 2 inches thick and has fabric loops, to attach to your car's frame.
Unfortunately, that option will only work if there’s someone else there to tow you out. While you should always off-road with others, if you choose not to and get stuck, you’ll be able to get out on your own if your vehicle is equipped with an electric winch.
If neither of these options is available, small rocks or a floor mat can help your vehicle gain enough traction to get out of a tough spot.
Finally, we’d like to offer a few tips regarding off-roading etiquette, to ensure you don’t step on any toes:
- Vehicles must yield to all other trail users. This includes hikers, bikers, and horses.
- You must always yield to uphill traffic, as they have the right of way.
- Stay on the trail. Going off-trail can damage fragile habitats and ecosystems.
- Always observe closures. These warnings have been put in place to protect you and your vehicle.
- If you need to stop or are going much slower than other drivers, pull over to allow others to pass.
- Always use the parking brake when stopped or pulled over.
- Leave wild animals and plants alone. Remember, you’re in their home, not the other way around.
- Never trespass!
At RGX Rim Repair, we've witnessed the aftermath of offroading adventures gone wrong and, honestly, the best advice we can give you is to leave your nice rims and custom painted wheels at home.
Instead, consider investing in a set of rims for off-roading that you won’t be upset about potentially damaging. And don’t forget, if you damage your wheels while off-roading, RGX Rim Repair has multiple locations in North Carolina, so you can get help with bent rim repair near you.