Practical tips for your next off-road trip – TopAuto
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Thursday / 19 May 2022
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Practical tips for your next off-road trip

Lockdown restrictions are easing and South Africans are already dusting off their tents and camp chairs for the next long weekend.

Before hitting the road in your 4×4, however, Virseker has warned that certain safety procedures must be followed.

Ricardo Coetzee, a spokesman for Virseker, along with Christo van Loggerenberg, head instructor at the Land Rover Experience Centre, shared their advice below.

Vehicle tips

Always stay within the abilities of your vehicle is the first piece of advice.

Whether it’s the newest Hilux, or the oldest Defender, do not push it past its abilities – as this will likely not end well.

Next up, ensure that your cargo is equally balanced, tied down, and that you are not overloaded.

A heavy, uneven load can do a lot of damage to a vehicle.

Emergency kit

When going on holiday, it is advised you take a tool kit, spare parts, a pump, a winch, traction plates, and powerful battery-powered lights in the event an emergency repair is needed.

Choose the right parts

A fun part of buying a 4×4 is kitting it out. Choosing the right kit is critical, however, and you should ensure that your aftermarket accessories will help you rather than hinder you.

Bushwhacking bumpers and skid plates are welcome, but high profile tyres and flared wheel arches aren’t.

Additionally, the use of a snorkel does not automatically improve your 4×4’s wading specification – and you have to keep things such as the electrical components, gearbox, alternators, and water inlets in mind.

“Even if just one of these factors are skipped in the preparation of your vehicle to handle deeper waters, it can cause serious damage,” they said.

On the trail

One you have your vehicle ready, the next step is to know the obstacles – and their angles – before tackling a trail.

The exploration of your route before taking it on is of critical importance. You have to keep in mind that your vehicle not only has to overcome one obstacle, it needs to conquer everything that comes at it.

Risk assessment forms part of the exploration journey, and tasks you to look for hazards such as boulders, trenches, trees, and inclines that will put you or your vehicle at risk.

Your 4×4 might be able to drive nearly on its side without tipping over, but an unwelcome rock in the way will end that balance.

Gears, steering, and pedals

It is imperative that you use the mechanical and electronic assist systems in your 4×4 to your advantage.

This includes knowing when to use features such as hill assist, traction control, and low-gear – as they are there to help you.

Additionally, have two steering lines for every obstacle. One that you are planning to use, and a backup in the case the original line doesn’t work out.

It is also necessary to practice balancing the accelerator and brake pedal just right in order to overcome every obstacle.

Going too fast or breaking too hard can easily lead to ending a getaway earlier than expected.

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