Always fancied a 4×4? you’ve quietly watched the mud plugging Youtube videos, picked up an occasional magazine, always secretly fancied your chances, and now is the time, the car needs replacing and you have a cracking excuse to the Mrs. why it has to be a 4×4.
Well why not, they are handy, fun vehicles to have but it’s easy to have all the gear and no idea. Once you’ve decided which vehicle you want based on what your lifestyle demands from the new toy, you need to learn how to be safe whilst having fun, so here are some basic tips. Remember, we all started as newbies at some point.
Learn to drive it! The first thing to re-educate yourself on is clutch control, this is not always the way forward in a 4×4. Put your machine in gear and take your foot off the pedals, yes all of the pedals, allow it to creep along just to reaffirm to yourself your driving a real car now. Brakes are not the usual answer either to slowing or controlling a down hill manoeuvre, use your gear box and allow the engine brake to control your speed moving down the gears to slow descent, the last thing you want is to skid on lose ground. Let your 4×4 do it’s job, your job is to steer and negotiate safe passage. If you’re totally new to the game then maybe consider an automatic for that first purchase.
If you are a complete novice, then go on a driver training course, if you’ve spent thousands on buying your 4×4 a course is a mere fraction of the cost to ensure you don’t trash it or yourself on your first trip out. There are plenty of courses around, lots of them offer gift vouchers so you can put it on your Christmas or Birthday wish list, it will be one of the best present’s you can reward yourself with, after all, you learned to drive on roads with instruction, and this is far more fun.
Professional tuition will help you to understand how and when to use that low gear range, the capabilities of an off-road machine and more importantly the limits.
Join a club or two. They will give you access to a wealth of experience from fellow members from driving, recovery and repair tips to what and who’s accessories to buy or even if you need them. If it’s a brand club i.e. Jeep, Toyota etc, you will usually be able to pick up parts easier as some clubs have discounts for members, plus fellow owners tend to have a wealth of parts tucked away at the back of the garage on sale for a beer or two. Most clubs arrange monthly drives that allow you to explore the countryside, enjoy the challenge of different terrains all with the help of your like minded new buddies. This means you can follow people’s line of driving over obstacles and if you get it wrong and strand yourself there are plenty of people to winch and guide you out. A lot of clubs arrange challenges, events, camping and are family friendly which is great to involve the kids and the better half, you will have a smoother 4×4 life if they enjoy it too. Get out and enjoy that new life of adventure it’s what you invested in when you brought a 4×4.
Pick up a 2 way radio (CB), there are plenty on Flea Bay, you are then in contact with the rest of the crowd, allowing you to call for advice or help if you’re stuck, plus it enables participation with the friendly banter that bounces between cars on an outing, you’re one of the gang now.
Check out our Off Road Driver Training Center’s page for one near you.
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