OB05: Driving On and Off-Road

Most people won’t have to worry about driving their everyday vehicle off-road and loaded down with gear. Much like pulling a trailer, there are some pretty basic things to keep in mind when driving on and off-road with your rig.

On Road Driving Principles

Having a vehicle that has been modified for overland use means it is likely not going to drive normal. Adding in extra weight and changing driveline angles means your vehicle is going to behave differently than it was intended to. Stopping distances and the vehicle’s center of gravity will probably be the two major changes.

Make sure to pay attention to traffic conditions and posted speed limits when driving on regular roads. Ideally, you will want to have your vehicle unloaded when driving regular roads. On top of not having your gear stolen, this returns the vehicle back to a somewhat stock weight, reducing the likelihood of an accident.

Weight Becomes an Issue

In the case of regular road driving, there is no need to exceed speed limits with a full weighted down rig. Your vehicle may react different around corners or in heavy braking if you’ve added weight on the inside and outside. Even something like acceleration becomes affected by all of the additional items you may have added.

Parking Becomes Tricky

If your rig has been updated to include bumpers, roof additions, etc. it can be less than ideal parking. You’ll need to pay closer attention to pulling into a parking space than normal. Rear bumpers with swing away carriers, front bumpers with bars, and even roof racks can cause issues with parking spots and garages.

Don’t Just Lock Your Doors

Locking your vehicle up, so no one steals anything inside seems like second nature. You should also lock down anything you have on the outside of the vehicle. There are plenty of stories of people who have had things walk off because they were not secured properly.

Off-road Driving Principles

The same principles as on-road driving should be applied when driving off-road and should be paid attention to even more closely. Off-road driving means you are going to be traveling on less than ideal conditions and terrain. Adding in extra weight on the roof, for gear, and people means your vehicles driving dynamics may change. And not for the better.

Slow Is Good

While driving off-road, it may seem like a good idea to move at faster speeds. This can lead to unintended damage though. Some fire roads and even well-paved dirt roads may allow for faster than normal speeds, but the majority of trails should be traveled at a lower speed. This will minimize the potential for damage.

Tire Pressure Changes

Most off-road conditions will require you to lower the pressure in your tires. This spreads out the tire so that it can absorb bumps and ruts easier. In the end, the more tire that is touching the ground, the better. Don’t release so much pressure so that it comes off the wheel and make sure to re-inflate when you get back on regular roads.

Turn Around In Sketchy Situations

Not everyone runs a fully off-road capable vehicle. Don’t be afraid to turn around, backtrack, and find a different route if you’re uncomfortable with how the terrain changes. There is no need to get stuck or damage your rig to the point of having to call someone to get you out.

Find more of this series here.

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