If you are new to four wheeling off road here are some helpful tips for your first trail ride.
Almost as soon as the group gets off pavement and into the dirt, the trail leader will stop to allow members to lock their hubs and to shift into 4 wheel drive low range. If your vehicle has manual locking hubs, this is the time to get out of your vehicle and lock them. Upon re- entering your vehicle, shift the transfer case into 4 low. (Most 4X4 vehicles require a full stop to shift into 4 low so do it before the group starts moving.) When the group does start moving and if you do not have power steering, drive with your thumbs up and out of the steering wheel. If your tire hits a log or rock, the wheel will spin out of your hands and you could break a thumb if it is wrapped around the wheel. Vehicles with power steering will not have this problem.
While moving, learn to drive by looking over your hood and try to memorize what is coming up on the trail. Proceed slowly and easily up the trail and craw over obstacles. Do not get in the habit of looking out of the drivers side window at the left tire as there is a good chance that your right front tire will get into trouble. Notice that we emphasize proceeding slowly, as most things done off road are done without speed. The idea is to go as slow as possible, but as fast as necessary to maintain forward momentum.
GENERAL OFF ROAD DRIVING TIPS
1. Always wear your seatbelt.
2. Use Low Range - 4 wheel drive and 1st gear (Shift to neutral before going into Low Range 4WD)
3. Start the vehicle in gear without the clutch, pressing the gas a little as needed.
4. Always keep vehicle behind you in sight.
5. Always use compression braking going downhill. Idle over obstacles. It might be necessary to use the gas somewhat going up hill. With a manual transmission, keep the foot off the clutch at all times and always start and stop with the key. If the vehicle stalls on an obstacle, restart the vehicle with the key and keep the foot off the clutch.
6. Drive slowly. Crawl over obstacles without using the clutch. If you start to slip or spin, give a little gas. Keep the vehicle moving. Slow is the way to go over rough terrain (drive like there's a crate of eggs in the cargo area that you don't want to break)
7. If you have an automatic transmission, use your lowest driving gear and low range. Use the left foot on the brake and the right on the gas, applying gas only as needed.
8. Don’t straddle large rocks or stumps. Put your tire on the rock or stump and crawl over them slowly. Use the gas only as needed.
9. Maintain adequate speed to get the job done. Going faster than necessary will only tear up your vehicle.
10. Keep moving once you are committed as smooth handling and proper momentum are the key to off road driving.
11. Watch the vehicle in front to see the best route to take over obstacles Spotters will assist you at difficult spots with hand signals. Ask for help whenever necessary.
12. If you get stuck with wheels spinning, turn the steering wheel back and forth while applying a little gas. If you are in mud or loose sand and do not gain forward momentum with this technique, STOP. Continuing to spin your tires will just dig your vehicle in deeper.
13. Drive with thumbs on the steering wheel, not wrapped around it.
14. After stopping with engine off, always apply emergency brake and put in gear to avoid accidentally rolling forward or backward.
15. You may have to retune CB to designated channel after cutting engine... many default to channel 9. If you want to have a CB conversation not related to the offroading event, go to another channel.
16. At timeouts (the pause that refreshes), men to the left, women to the right.
17. While stopped, pick up any trash you may see around the trail. We always pack out more than we pack in.
18. Don't forget to air-up after leaving the trails and before heading home.
19. When you get home, thoroughly wash the mud off under your vehicle, being sure to clean your catalytic converter, brakes, driveshaft, etc.
20. Just do it... Carefully!