All you need is a single ride in a 4X4 vehicle to understand the appeal of owning one, but it’s important for new 4×4 owners to understand a handful of essential tips and best practices before hitting the road.
Know Your Car
Genuinely get to know what your 4X4 is (and isn’t) capable of, both on- and off-road. This means scouring the forums, talking to people who own the same vehicle, and reading the owner’s manual. Take note of how much undercarriage clearance your vehicle has to avoid damage on the road or the trails. Get a good feel for the acceleration and braking times. These factors play a role in how you react behind the wheel.
Know Your Angles
Manufacturers will provide you with the essential angles when you’re shopping for a new or used 4WD or Jeep. However, if you’re looking at vehicles with mods like lift kits, larger tires, or customized bumpers, you can easily measure these angles with some simple math. The measurement from the point where the front tire meets the ground to the lowest part of your car, which is usually the front bumper — that’s your approach angle. Do the same at the back of the vehicle with the tire and bumper to find your departure angle.
You’ll definitely need a full gas tank, a tow rope, spare tire and jack, a first aid kit, and your phone — that’s the bare minimum. You could also benefit from recommended mods like a winch and a high-lift jack, along with LED headlights and a fire extinguisher. If you’re unsure about which safety-related mods are suitable for your 4×4, make sure to ask the technician when you bring it in for regularly scheduled maintenance (something you also need to do before hitting the trails.)
Plan Your Route
While it’s certainly fun to think about blazing trails in your 4X4, the last thing you need is to get stuck in unknown territory. Use a paper map to plan out the route you’ll travel when you go off-road; don’t trust GPS and location-finding technology to always work in the middle of the wilderness. Knowing what kind of terrain you’re traveling is a must to avoid damage, too.
Watch For the Wobble
Death wobble happens in Jeeps, 4x4s, and trucks when rapidly rotating steering wheel components cause your steering wheel to move rapidly from side to side. This causes your vehicle to feel like it’s about to fall apart, and you want to hold onto the steering wheel for dear life. It happens at speeds above 40 miles per hour and is usually caused by hitting a bump or a pothole. Don’t take your hands off the steering wheel if you feel your vehicle shaking violently and think it may be going into a death wobble. Grip lightly, slow down, and pull over to stop the death wobble safely.
Invest In Maintenance
Don’t overlook the importance of checking any mods you may have on your 4X4 as well. Mechanical issues with mods like winches or suspension, for example, can become a huge safety concern and grow into serious problems later on down the road. Ultimately, it’s best to talk to an experienced mechanic about the type of preventative 4×4 maintenance schedule you can create for your vehicle.
Before you decide on which mods to add to your new 4X4 or put any more off-road miles on your vehicle, visit our team. Our full-service automotive facility and team of experts are constantly studying the latest trends and researching new-product manufacturers. We own the responsibility of providing our clients with the highest quality 4X4 and Jeep parts and most dependable service — contact us today to get started!