Off road driving of a sports 4×4 is lots of fun. But its not so much fun to pay for repairs, new parts, and fresh paint jobs. The following are some tips you can use to get the most out of your performance four-wheel drive. This will maximize the fun factor and minimize the amount of maintenance money you need to put into it.
OK, part of the fun of having a fast 4×4 is to drive fast on rough countryside sometimes. But realize that if you do this too often you create hazards that would not be present if you drove slowly. Driving quickly increases risk of undercarriage damage, tyre spin, and accidents. If youre driving in steep and rocky terrain, a slow pace is usually more than sufficient to get to across obstacles and up and down hills. If you must gun it, do so when it is clear that there are few rocks and plant hazards. Just be sensible and only drive quickly when you want to really let loose.
Keep a Tyre Puncture Kit in the Car
When driving in rocky areas or areas with plant hazards such as cacti, tyre puncture becomes a concern. Therefore it makes a lot of sense to bring a tyre puncture kit. These kits often have contents such as the following: sticky self sealing strips, vulcanizer, a hole enlarger tool, and a plug stuffing tool to stuff the plugging strip into the hole.
In addition, carrying a foot pump is a good idea. This may seem contrary to what you expect, but electric compressors/inflation tools are not always reliable. In most cases you will not have lost much air from your tyre, so a foot pump will be sufficient for reinflation, and they rarely break or malfunction.
Bushes in off road environments are hazards to the paint job. They may seem harmless, but as you brush past them repeatedly they begin to leave streaks and scratch the paint on the 4x4s exterior. This will result in the need for a new paint job sooner than if you simply keep a good distance from bushes, so do this wherever possible.
Add Larger Tyres and New Springs for Clearance
Its almost inevitable that when driving over bumpier areas, your 4×4 will bounce up and down and strike the ground on the downswing. Over time this can result in damage to the undercarriage. As the impacts add up, so can the chance of vehicle damage of one sort or another. A good solution to this is to get larger tyres and after-market springs for better shock absorption. The larger tyres increase the clearance and create a situation in which the body has to bounce much more vigorously to reach the ground. This is, obviously, what you want. New, stronger springs resist the bouncing better while increasing the shock absorption. Between these two measures you can greatly reduce the amount of ground contact the undercarriage of the 4×4 experiences.
Increased speed, as noted above, can create wheel-spin. This wears on the tyres and shortens their life. So try to avoid wheel-spin by taking it slower on hills and in areas with less traction. These arent areas where you really want to drive fast anyway. Go for precision and good handling rather than speed in these types of situations and this will keep the wheels gripping the ground.
Observing these simple tips will increase your safety and extend the life of your 4WD. You will be doing both yourself and your vehicle a favor by implementing this simple advice. This will allow you to get the greatest possible performance and enjoyment from your 4×4.
Hugh McInnes is a bit of a daredevil – he loves travelling around, especially offroad in a super-quick sports 4×4. When he’s not zooming around the countryside he loves to wind it back and cruise in his 4WD SUV. Nice life if you can get et, eh?