“Leave the electronics at home, grab some supplies, engage the 4x4 system, and see where the adventure takes you. Off-roading is not only an extremely enjoyable way to appreciate the great outdoors, it offers a chance to strengthen family bonds and make memories that will last a lifetime,” says Christian Hazel, editor of Petersen’s 4-Wheel and Off-Road.
Depending on the terrain, you can go off-roading in your daily driver - almost any four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive SUV, crossover or light truck can handle it. You’ll be out in the wilderness for several hours, so some basic tips include:
• Bring plenty of food and water.
• Pack extra clothes in case temperatures drop as the sun goes down.
• Take along a flashlight (with new batteries) and a basic safety kit with bandages, sunscreen, gloves, and other items.
• Research the area/trails where you’ll be off-roading. You’ll most likely be out of cell phone/GPS range, so it’s always good to know where you’ll be driving and what the roads will be like.
• Make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape, especially the tyres.
“Off- or on-road, tyres are super important,” says Fred Koplin, senior director of marketing and motorsports for Yokohama Tyre Corporation, manufacturer of a variety of tyres for SUVs, pickup trucks and passenger cars. “They play a vital role in braking, steering, comfort and handling. Doesn’t matter if you’re in a Jeep or family wagon, the wrong tyres can result in a disappointment with the handling, ride and treadwear.”
For off-roading, Koplin says you’ll need something extremely durable with great traction. “It all depends on what you drive and what you plan to do, but you can either go with a top-notch all-terrain (A/T) tyre, which is very versatile, or a super strong mud-terrain (M/T) tyre like our new, rugged Geolandar M/T G003. Both types of tyres are also designed for highway use and daily driving, too.”
Maintaining your A/T or M/T tyres for daily use is essential, too, says Koplin. This includes taking five minutes a month to check your tyre pressure. “A tyre that’s underinflated will affect your drive and the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Keeping them properly inflated will give you a better ride and save you some at the gas pump,” he says.
The US Tyre Manufacturers Association (USTMA) recommends checking the tyres when they are cold - at least four hours since the vehicle was last driven. Koplin says to always use an accurate tyre gauge and make sure the valve is free of debris and water. The correct tyre pressure is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the tyre manufacturer. The proper inflation levels can be found on a placard on the inside of the car door and/or in the owner’s manual.
Koplin offers more tyre tips that will help you throughout the year:
• Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tyre’s tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy new tyres.
• Tyres must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch (the lowest legal limit). It’s best to replace them before they reach 2/32 depending on your drive (geographically and based on the type of streets).
• Rotating your tyres regularly promotes even wear of the tread. Tyres should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
• Check your alignment at least once a year or sooner, especially if the vehicle is pulling to one side. This will help avoid uneven wear on tyre tread. Tyre balance should also be monitored.