- 4×4 Low – This refers to the four wheel drive mode where a lower gear ratio is engaged. This gives a higher torque to the wheels but also lowers your maximum speed. You would want this while rock crawling or being in any off-road situation where you simply need to drive slower. It’s also useful for getting yourself unstuck.
- 4×4 High – As with 4×4 Low, this refers to the gear ratio – in this case, it’s high. You want this for situations where you need less traction and more speed – a dirt road or relatively snowy, paved road for instance.
- Approach Angle – This is the maximum incline angle your vehicle can climb (or descend) before the suspension or body of the vehicle contacts the driving surface.
- Locking Differential (“diff lock”) – 4×4 wheels need to be able to turn at different speeds depending on the terrain, which is accomplished by having all powered axles equipped with a differential which directs power to the wheel that’s easiest to rotate. Power is directed to each wheel according to its needs. The diff lock, however, makes all wheels move at the same speed by directing power equally to all 4 wheels – this can be helpful when navigating particularly difficult terrain.
- Wheelbase – The distance from the vehicle’s front-wheel center to its rear-wheel center on the same side of the vehicle.
- Wheel Travel – This relates to the suspension as this is the maximum distance a wheel can travel up or down. The more wheel travel, the better your traction will be.
- Rock Massage – A polite term for what happens when you try rock crawling without the right equipment, precautions, or qualifications.
- Fire extinguisher
- Spare tire(s)
- Tire repair kit – Difficult trails with jagged rocks can cause you a real headache, especially if you don’t have a spare. A good tire repair kit will get you up and running again if you know how to use it.
- Jump starter & power bank – Off-road vehicles die all the time, for one reason or another. Be sure to have what you need to jump start it back up again. (The jump starter and power bank should also be able to power your GPS unit and phone as well.)
- Winch – This is great for getting you unstuck. The winch can be mounted to the front or rear bumpers and, with a chain or cable, be tied around a tree or large rock. Winches can also be used to help other drivers who have gotten stuck.
- Traction ramps – If you plan on going through muddy or snowy trails, these are great for getting your vehicle out of a tight spot, especially if you have other drivers around to help you out.
Of course, food, water, and a good first aid kit should all go without saying…
Handling Different Terrain
Dirt & Gravel
This is typically the easiest to manage.
It’s a good idea to keep your thumbs outside of the steering wheel so you don’t break or jam them when going over sudden bumps.
Make minor steering corrections when appropriate.
Pay close attention to the trail.
Sand Dunes & Beach Trails
Obviously you want to first make sure you can legally off-road in your area of choice. Look for nearby signs or check the internet.
Sometimes you can only off-road in these areas with a permit.
Now, as for the terrain itself – you want to have the air pressure in your tires lowered to about 15 PSI.
Once you’ve got some momentum going, don’t lose it. On the same token, try not to exceed 25mph either.
If you start sinking into the sand, move your tires back and forth to gain some traction.
As with sand, it’s important to drive consistently and maintain your momentum at a relatively low speed. If you start to sink, move your tires back and forth.
It’s a good idea to have All Terrain tires for muddy trails.
Consider Your Skill Level & Budget
If you’re just starting out off-roading, you don’t need to start off going all-out on your vehicle or or St. George off-road accessories.
You don’t buy a motorcycle before you take the training wheels off your bike, after all.
That said, if you have the budget for it, there’s no reason not to go for something reasonably nice or even smi-advanced – just know it’s likely to get some kind of damage.
Do Your Research
If you’ve made it this far into the article, then you’re already on your way. But there’s still more to go.
Find local trails and determine which would be the perfect one for you to start off on. You’re new to off-roading, so find a beginner trail.
Don’t Off-Road Alone
Even more experienced off-roaders prefer to hit our local St. George off-road trails with a group. There are plenty of reasons for this.
- It’s safer
- It can be far more convenient (people around you can help you get unstuck)
- It can be more fun
- It’s a smart idea if you’re a newbie – going with people more experienced than you offers you a greater chance to learn (from both their mistakes and the ones you’ll probably make at some point)
Understand That Much Of What You Purchase Won’t Be Seen By Anyone
We all want to show off our rigs. We love customizing them and giving them our own personality. And while that’s certainly a factor, it’s not the only one.
Much of what goes into a good off-road vehicle – differential lockers, skid plates, a good suspension system – isn’t going to change the way your vehicle looks.
Know Your Rig
Off-roading can be expensive unless you know how to work on your own rig.
You can buy a good tool kit for relatively cheap and learn how to do basic maintenance on your vehicle. Learn to understand what your St. George off road accessories do and how they’ve been installed.
It’s your vehicle and your new hobby after all – you should want to get at least a basic idea of how everything operates.
Get The Right Tires
The right St. George off road wheels and tires are essential. If you’re new to off-roading and plan to start off on some easier trails, All Terrain Tires are a great option – there’s a wide range of them and they can also handle a fairly wide range of terrain.
All Terrain Tires come equipped with large grooves that are great for beginner-to-moderate off-roading.
Get The Right Air Pressure In Your Tires
One of the most common mistakes beginner off-roaders make is going out with too much air in their tires. Let some of it out. Lower air pressure means better performance.
For smaller vehicles, it’s good to keep the tire pressure above 10 PSI but for heavier vehicles, the threshold is between 15-18 PSI.