4x4 Driving Tips
By Sedona Jeep School Instructor Nena Barlow
Leaving the pavement is all about traction management. As a driver, you only have two things to do: 1. Stop/go 2. Left/right.
1) Throttle Control
a. A steady application of power is more likely to get you safely through the hairy stuff than “jack-rabbitting” the throttle.
b. “As slow as you can, as fast as you must” is the mantra of safe and responsible four-wheeling. TV commercials show 4x4’s flying over obstacles and whipping around corners. That is not an accurate representation of real four-wheeling. More rollovers occur on “easy” dirt roads, at speeds of 25-35 mph.
c. Squeeze the pedal, don’t mash.
2) Look in the direction you are moving
a. Look 30-50 feet ahead while moving to pick your line.
b. At tougher spots, stop and scout on foot.
c. Analyze tough spots with an exit plan in mind.
3) Keep the rubber side down
a. Sideways on the hill (roll axis) is a high rollover risk. Be wary of sudden weight shifts i.e. driving too fast could be 3 mph.
b. The steeper the hill, the more important it is to go straight up or down.
c. Keep as many tires in contact with the ground as possible.
d. Bouncing tires have no tractionback off the throttle.
e. Spinning tires have no tractionback off the throttle.
4) Keep your tires on the high spots
a. For most 4x4’s, rocks bigger than volleyballs pose a threat. Go around or put a tire on to lift over.
b. Straddle holes and ruts to keep the vehicle as level from side-side as possible
c. Cross ruts at a 30-40 degree angle to allow one tire at a time to pass through.
5) Know your vehicle dimensions
a. Bumpers, mirrors
c. Angles of approach, departure, and breakover
d. Don’t forget your back tires.
6) Everyone wears seatbelts!