Off-road Driving Tips

General Rules of thumb...

NEVER drink & drive!
Never go off-roading alone!

  • Seatbelts are recommended for adults - ALWAYS put children in seatbelts or child safety seats!
  • Always be prepared to go off-road Make sure your spare tire is fully functional & your tire jack works. Make sure you are equipped with tow hooks or tow points. Always carry tow straps, tools, parts, and lots of fluids (for you and the vehicle).
  • As soon as you venture off pavement, put it in 4WD. Save your drive train and axles - let all 4 wheels do the work.
  • The slower the better to avoid damage. Slowly crawling over obstacles is the best way to avoid damage. This isn't BAJA racing!
  • For slow leisurely rock crawling and off-road driving, use 4WD Low range. I always use 4WD low range because it's easier on the clutch and keeps your speeds down for more control over obstacles.
  • Hold onto the steering wheel. Hold onto the steering wheel firmly. Crawling over rocks can cause the tires and steering wheel to turn quickly or snap.
  • Thumbs OUT!!! Keep your thumbs on the outside of the steering wheel. If the steering wheel does snap, having your thumbs on the inside of the steering wheel will not be a pleasant experience.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in proper working condition and maintained regularly. Off-road driving can put your vehicle in some unusual stresses. Avoid unnecessary breakdowns.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you need some 'spotting' - just ASK!!

Off-roading is a serious sport and we take it seriously.
Safety should always be your highest priority.

Trail Etiquette...

  • Airing down your tires is recommended if you plan on doing more than just 'dirt roads'. Airing down helps with traction, makes ride smoother, and protects your tires from punctures.
  • Exploring new trails is fun! Make sure you are supplied with the proper maps, GPS, equipment, and cell phone.
  • When wheeling with a group, always have a designated Trail Guide and Trail Gunner or Back Door."Tail Gunner" and/or "Back Door" is the last vehicle in a group that is constantly communicating with the trail guide by CB. This keeps the group together and helps ensure a safe and organized event.
  • Always keep the person behind you in site at all times! This keeps the group together and will prevent anyone from getting lost.
  • Leave the trails with everything you came with (don't litter).
  • Pick up litter as you travel through the trails.
  • Stay on the trail - never make your own trails.
  • Always respect Signs. No Trespassing signs are there for a reason. Respect them.
  • Never wheel on private land unless you have permission.
  • Get to know your surroundings. If you're going out to play on some obstacles, make sure you are aware of WHO and WHAT is around you. Avoid spinning tires excessively - debris can fly and hit someone or someone's vehicle.
  • Respect ALL Makes and Brands of Off-road vehicles. This sport is enjoyed by all - we are not here to compete nor are we here to prove a point. We are here to have fun!!
  • CB's are a GREAT addition especially when wheeling with groups.
  • Join your local Off-road club. Joining a club is the best way to get experience and meet fellow enthusiasts.

Off-road Safety Links:


Offcamber (on side hills)...
Off-camber situation is when you are sideways on a hill.

  • Avoid off-camber situations, avoid going sideways on a hill or descent.
    Going sideways on a hill side could cause your vehicle to roll.
  • If you find yourself in this situation, Stop - do not continue to drive sideways on a hill.
  • Turn your wheels in a down hill direction (toward the bottom of hill).
  • Depending on your situation, you may be able to drive down ward
  • Or, use reverse until you can straighten yourself out (pointing up or down hill)

Going up hill...

  • Always know what is at the top before starting up.
  • In extreme uphill climbs, only one vehicle at a time.
  • Once you have completed the obstacle, clear the area and signal the next vehicle to proceed.
  • Always drive straight when going up or down hills, if possible.
  • Never attempt to drive sideways on a hill.

Going down hill...

  • Know what's at the bottom before you start down.
  • Always go straight down the hill, if possible.
  • If you're with a group, don't begin the descent until you are completely certain the hill is clear of any vehicles or people.
  • Always use 4WD low range, 1st or 2nd gear depending on the slope angle and slope surface.
  • Allow "engine braking" to take you downward slowly. Put it in gear and let the clutch out. Do not use gas or brakes, if at all possible.
  • If you feel you are going too fast, ease on the brakes slowly. Never allow the wheels to lock.

Going downhill... extreme descents, snow covered trails, or loose surfaces...

  • All of the above applies however, certain situations exist where engine braking can be tricky.

On normal terrain (flat & sturdy surface), having your vehicle in 4WD low range in 1st gear allows you to slowly creep down the hill while your engine does all the work. No brakes or no gas is needed. The vehicle creeps downward because there is plenty of traction to 'hold you back' from going faster.

On extreme descents, snow covered slopes or loose surfaces - the traction is not enough to 'hold you back' and you may begin to slide down the hill rather than roll with the engine/wheels. You have less control of the vehicle when you are sliding downward versus a controlled rolling of your wheels.

Getting practice and more off-road experience will allow you to determine what you need to do in these situations. Using a higher gear - such as 4WD low range 2nd or 3rd gear will allow the wheels to turn in correspondence with the speed at which the vehicle wants to descend. This may be uncomfortable for you to go downhill at such a rate of speed, however, this enables you to have more control of the vehicle as you descend. If such situations seem intimidating to you - don't try them!!! Build up your experience first.

Crossing Logs...

  • Observe the log prior to going over it. Know your approach and departure angles.
  • Always enter at an angle, allowing one tire to crawl over the obstacle at a time.
  • Never drive straight into the obstacle.
  • Slowly crawl over the obstacle and slowly creep down.
  • Sometimes a log may require you to 'bump' over or apply a small burst of momentum to get you over.

Crossing Ditches...

  • Observe the ditch prior to going through it. Know your approach and departure angles.
  • Always enter at an angle, dropping one tire down into the ditch at a time.
  • Drop each wheel down in the ditch slowly while still preserving momentum to get you out.

On Rocks...

  • It is recommended to be in 4WD low range for rock crawling. This will keep your speed down and allow you to creep over the rocks avoiding damage.
  • Never straddle the rocks - always drive on them. Aim one of your tires directly over the rock. Slowly creep upwards and downwards.
  • Lowering your air pressure (or airing down) will give you more traction, makes your ride softer & helps protect your tires (less likely to puncture).
  • Get to know the amount of ground clearance your vehicle has. It could make the difference between getting over an obstacle or needing a tow. Avoid going beyond your limits.


  • Check the depth of the mud. Locate the shallowest points for your entrance and exit points. My philosophy is, never go into an unknown mud hole unless someone else goes through first.
  • Check the mud hole for hidden rocks and other obstacles that could cause damage.
  • Drive straight and keep up your momentum.
  • If you feel that you're going to get stuck, raise the rpm's. This will help clear out your tires and give you more chance for traction.
  • Always keep in mind - your airbox is for air, not mud.

Crossing Streams...

  • Don't attempt to cross fast moving streams.
  • Like mud, you'll want to check both the water depth, entrance and exit points.
  • Check for underwater obstacles - rocks, ledges, or holes.
  • Cross streams at an upstream angle.
  • Go across at a slow speed while preserving momentum.
  • If you get stuck and the engine stalls - DO NOT RE-START THE ENGINE! There is an overwhelming urge to turn that key. DON'T!!! If there is any water in your engine - and you turn the key, you could damage your engine completely.

Crossing Sand...

  • Fix a high flag to your vehicle to make sure you'll be seen around dunes.
  • It is absolutely necessary to lower your tire pressure (air down)
  • Always keep your momentum.
  • Never over throttle - you could dig yourself into a hole and not be able to get out.