Top 4x4 Driving Techniques 1

The holiday season is now upon us and the adventures are about to begin with all your friends and family. Taking your bakkie on the road – packing your canopy full of camping gear, luggage or sports equipment – ready to take the journey of an amazing summer. But before you head off, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Optimal Hand Positioning

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When driving off road, it’s very important to know where to place ones thumbs on the inside of the steering wheel. When driving over any large grooves or pot holes, the steering wheel tends to suddenly turn. This can result in the thumb being bruised or even dislocated if it’s left inside the rim. Remembering to leave your thumbs on the outside of the steering wheel is a very easy skill to learn and should become second nature to you. With power steering fitted to most 4-wheel drives, this technique isn’t as important as the power steering when driving over wet terrains where the steering wheel can suddenly start moving as well as steering stabilizers.

Knowing Diff Positioning

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It’s important to know how ones front and rear differentials are set, as they’re usually the lowest ground clearance point of the vehicle. Similarly, any other low ground clearance points should be noted, for example, the exhaust, spare tyre etc. When there’s a big rock or obstacle on the road, one shouldn’t directly drive over it with the lowest ground clearance point on the vehicle.

Braking Correctly

When braking very hard the front suspension of the vehicle compresses and uses up most the vehicle’s suspension travel. When braking in order to avoid an obstacle, for example a pot hole or debris, and one can’t stop in time, release the brake pedal just prior to hitting the obstacle. This will allow the front suspension to return to its normal height and give more suspension travel when hitting the obstacle.

Knowing your Vehicle’s Limitations

A four wheel drive vehicle cannot be treated like a normal car when cornering. The 4WD will roll over much easier than a car while cornering if they are taken too fast, due to the higher center of gravity. This applies to gravel and paved roads equally. Although a four wheel drive vehicle generally has better traction on gravel than a car, when safe cornering speeds are exceeded the four wheel drive will tend to roll earlier than a car.

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