What to Know Before Off-Roading With Your Jeep

Jeep in water

If you just purchased a Jeep, we'd bet that you're itching to go off-roading. After all, you can't find many vehicles that are better equipped than the Jeep to travel through a variety of tough terrains.

Of course, it takes a lot more than just a Jeep, a driver, and an awesome course. It takes a basic knowledge of how to safely navigate these courses, how to capitalize on your car's capabilities, and how to get yourself out of a jam. If you go out there without this understanding, you could be putting yourself and your vehicle at risk.

If you find yourself with a desire to do some off-roading, read the guide below for some tips. It could be the difference between a good time and a, well, not-so-good time. Even if you don't have a Jeep, we'd bet you'll be itching to seek a Jeep Wrangler for sale in Miami

Understand Your Jeep

A basic understanding of off-roading will only get you so far. It's a smart idea to read more in-depth on the hobby, and that research should include giving your car's manual a look. This will help you understand what your specific Jeep is capable of, like the vehicle's 'ground clearance' or ability to lock into four-wheel drive.

Furthermore, it's a good idea to test out your vehicle on a relatively easy off-roading path. Nothing would be worse than arriving to a great trail and having to give up about 10 minutes in. First, obtain a basic knowledge how of your ride operates on dirt and gravel roads. Next, test out your vehicle on narrow paths, inclines, and even creeks (if they're accessible). This will give you a better understand of what your Jeep can and cannot do.

Finally, you'll want to do a bit of research on the off-road paths you'll be driving. This will help you anticipate what you should expect in regards to obstacles, and it will also help you recognize an ideal path for your adventure. Don't forget to check the weather, too!

Be Knowledgeable of the Conditions

jeep rock climbing

The Jeep website has a great guide for off-roading, and it focuses on certain conditions and road types. While you may receive different advice based on your specific four-wheel drive vehicle, we're going to stick with Jeep's recommendations for this exercise.

  • Hills: Never drive at an angle and always go straight up or down. If the hill appears to be steep and you're not confident your vehicle can make it to the top, don't test it. If you end up getting stuck on your way up, simply back straight down the hill in reverse. If you happen to make it to the summit, make sure you apply significantly more power at the base. Ease up on the gas as you approach the top, and then use the lowest gear (on manual transmission) as you're headed down. The brakes should only be used to "fine-tune" your speed, as you should be relying on your gears and engine compression for deceleration.

  • Sand: Make sure you drop the air pressure in your tires to 10-12 pounds. If possible, try high-range four-wheel drive to help maintain forward momentum. Take wider turns if you can, as tight turns will possibly result in you getting stuck!

  • Rock Crawling: The ideal speed for rock crawling is generally one to three miles per hour, so it's a good idea to ease off the gas and let your Jeep just crawl. Use a low gear and low-range four-wheel drive, and consider decreasing your tire pressure about three to five pounds. Understand your ground clearance, and use that to determine whether you should drive over a big rock. If you can't (and don't test it), slowly drive around the boulder.

  • Snow/Mud: This is when you can really utilize your Jeep's four-wheel drive capabilities. A low gear and low-range four-wheel drive is the best for driving through deep snow, and it helps assure that you consistently have momentum. If you feel yourself losing traction, rotate your steering wheel back and forth. If you feel like you've completely lost traction, stop the vehicle. Wheel spinning never helps in these situations, and it typically just make things worse. 

Be Ready

deep off roading

Besides making sure that your Jeep is all prepared (which would include securing the battery, making sure all parts are in good conditions, checking oil and fuel, and taking a look at your tires), you'll want to be ready for anything that could go wrong. That means being equipped with all the right tools and provisions.

Make sure you have a good tow strap in case you get stuck (assuming another driver will be around), a foldable shovel to dig your vehicle out (assuming someone isn't around), an air pressure gauge, Allen wrenches, grease… basically anything you think will help you if you're stuck or facing an emergency.

In regards to miscellaneous personal items, pretend you're packing for an overnight trip. In case you get stuck, it's a good idea to have some extra food, water, and blankets. You'll also want to take some spare parts and a first aid kit with you. It's always better to be prepared!

There's a fine line between bringing too much and not packing enough. You want to make sure you're well stocked in case of emergency, but use logic. Over-packing could add unnecessary weight to your Jeep, and that could result in poor balance and stress.

To secure all these items, use a heavy-duty strap, not a bungee cord. You're going to be going over your fair share of bumps, so you want to make sure none of your resources fall out of the Jeep. Additionally, these flying objects could hit you or one of your passengers, potentially causing serious injury.

One final thing you should bring along on a Jeep off-roading trip: a friend. While it's fun to have somebody sitting co-pilot, it's actually more advantageous to have them driving a separate vehicle beside you (assuming, of course, they have a capable vehicle). This assures that someone will be there if you get stuck. To make the ride a bit for fun, bring along a CB or FRS radio. This will also make your ride a bit safer, as you'll have a source to communicate if anything goes wrong.

If you recently purchased a Jeep, you should seriously consider bringing it off-roading. Sure, it is a relatively dangerous hobby, and it could cause some harm to your vehicle. However, you should remember that your Jeep and it's four-wheel drive system was designed to handle this kind of stuff. As long as you focus on the tips above, you'll be absolutely fine.

If this sounds fun but you don't have a capable vehicle, head down to Miami Lakes Jeep.
You could be driving down the beaten path immediately!

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