Tyre Talk

6 Basics To Be Aware Of Before Heading Off-Road

We all know the feeling of seeing a muddy road, and wanting to drive through it. Tyres, surely, are one thing to prep before driving off-road. But they’re not the only thing to look at. Check out these basics and you’ll be prepared to be that dirt splashing driver we all want to be.

1. Momentum
It’s important to distinguish momentum and acceleration. Momentum is used when driving through mud and sand. It’s speed that has been built up by the vehicle. Acceleration is used to build up that speed.  What you shouldn’t do, is accelerating while driving through the mud or sand. You will only get stuck. Use the momentum and its speed, and you will cruise right through it.

2. Tyres
You can’t drive through rough terrain on highway tyres. Make sure you buy the right ones, for instance our Dueler A/T 693 is made specifically for riding through rough conditions. Want to drive off through the wild on your motorbike? Our Gritty ED668, will offer you the safety your adventure needs. 

Remember, seasonal changes should bring changes to your tyres. Use summer tyres in the summer, and winter tyres in the winter. It will help keep you safe on normal roads, and so much more so during off-road driving. 

At Bridgestone, we have excellent tyres in both categories
. For some summertime off-road adventuring, take a look at our Dueler A/T 693. It offers an excellent all-terrain versatility, and gives you good traction in off-road conditions.

Want to explore those icy mountains in the harshest winter conditions? No problem, we have the Blizzak LM-80 EVO. This tyre gives you excellent control over your vehicle, even on snow and ice.

While driving off-road, you might want to reduce your tyre pressure. This will make your tyres ‘bigger’, which means that a larger surface touches the road. It will improve your grip, but will also lower your vehicle. So remember to look and figure out how low your car can go, before you damage something.

FIND THE RIGHT TYRES

If you’re driving a 4x4, you can lower your tyre pressure to 1.2 bar. But remember to check if your vehicle won’t be too low! Of course, there is a downside to lowering your tyre pressure. Your tyre might roll off the wheel if you take sudden turns, so steer gently.

3. Gear
As mentioned above, while driving through sand, use the momentum speed. If you accelerate while driving through loose sand, you will get stuck. Choose a gear that will make the engine work hard. By getting your wheels spinning by a lower gear, your tyres will plough right through the sand.

Also remember to check if your vehicle is equipped with a so called “diff lock”. This diff lock, or differential lock, makes sure that the two wheels on the same axle rotate at the same speed. This increases the grip of your tyres on a normal road, but not on off-road. There you might get a different resistance on each tyre. So if the diff lock is turned off, the wheel with the least resistance will rotate more than the other wheels. This means that you will get more grip on rough or muddy terrain.

If you do get stuck, don’t panic. Try to reverse slowly, and if it doesn’t work then stop. Go get some help, and figure out where you’re stuck. Dig away the sand around the wheels and place mats or branches underneath them. This will give your tyres more grip, and a better chance to get out. 

You can also try to rock the car from one side to the other. This will get sand falling in the holes around the wheels, and slowly filling them up.

4. Cool

Sometimes while driving through rough terrain, you might feel resistance while steering. Don’t fight it. It means the tyres are searching a way through the mud or rocks. Also keep in mind to accelerate and brake gently, or you might damage your car.

Driving through mud, by the way, is similar to driving through sand. Lower your tyre pressure, and use momentum speed. Be sure to get more engine speed, by accelerating on a lower gear, before storming through the mud.

Also, take a look at the terrain. Do you see rocks? Then be careful, as there might be some rocks hidden in the mud. If you try to storm over them, you’re more likely to damage your car, than to get through the mud. Try to plan ahead. Look for a way through, so you won’t be surprised. If you feel your wheels spinning wildly, stop accelerating. This will cause your wheels to slow down, but also gives them more grip on the terrain. Once again, don’t fight the vehicle. Try to hold the steering wheel gently, as the tyres will look for a way through the mud and rocks. 

If you get stuck, then start digging. Dig away the mud around the wheels and place mats or branches underneath them. They will provide grip when you try to drive away. If you can’t get out on your own, you will have to be pulled out. Remember that being pulled out is a better option than trying to get out on your own.

In brief: bring your ‘cool’ when driving off-road.

5. Judgement
Be extra careful while crossing water. Take a look at the terrain first. If it’s a rocky terrain, then there might be rocks in the river. If it’s a sandy terrain, then keep in mind that the riverbed might be made out of sand as well. 

Then watch the river itself. Figure out if it’s a strong current or not, but keep in mind that rivers might have a strong undertow as well! Choose a good spot to get in, but also a good spot to get out. You don’t want surprises in a river.

Try to disconnect your fan-belt or jam the fan itself, which you can try with a towel. This will make sure that the fan won’t come forward and damage the radiator, and avoids water splashing over the electrical elements of your car.

Once you’re in the water, you should keep a steady speed. Avoid accelerating, as this might start wheel spinning, and your tyres might get damaged by rocks. If your car stops in the river, don’t try to tow it out immediately. Check for water in the air filter, and turn over the engine to get it out. 

Once you get out, brake gently to get the water off the brakes. Check the engine, gearbox and axle oil for signs of water. If water is mixed with the oil, it will have a milky color, and you should drain it.

6. Company
Company makes any trip more enjoyable, but it might also keep you safe. You wouldn’t want to be pulling out your car by yourself, right? If a friend with a car joins you, he might be able to pull you out if you get stuck. Make sure you bring the right equipment. When you get stuck, only the right equipment will get you out. So go and buy a good, strong tow rope. And keep a shovel at hand to get rid of sand or mud surrounding your wheels.

Remember, finally, that the terrain changes as a car drives over it. Keep this in mind if you’re doing a trip with several vehicles. If a car drives up a slope, while coming out of the river, it dumps quite a lot of water on that slope. This might make it difficult for other vehicles to drive up that slope after the first one.

You’re all set, when it comes to the safety checks: now go and enjoy some adventure(s)!