The “basic” recovery of a 4×4 can be broken down into a few simple driving techniques that can get you out of a multitude of tricky situations before it develops into a full blown heavy recovery situation. It doesn’t always come down to experience, after all, everyone has to start somewhere. Whether you’re stuck in soggy mud, sand, or on the rocks these 6 golden rules can help you out of strife.
STOP and REVERSE
If you’re 4×4 is sinking rather then dancing across the boggy mud or sand then stop or you’ll just dig yourself a deeper hole. No joke being heavy on the throttle at this point means burying and losing sight of the underside of your truck. The deeper the hole the less chance of being able to get out without recovery gear and less chance of being able to easily attach any rescue equipment. Ground you travelled across a minute ago was safe and the weight of a truck has compressed it, so slip in to reverse before its too late.
BACK and FORTH
If reversing out isn’t working and you’re still getting stuck then rock back and forth. By driving gently forward and backwards you will hopefully push any built-up mud or sand out from blocking the tyres. This motion will also help to condense and solidify any soft ground to help gain traction under the tyres.
LEFT and RIGHT
If you’re running on decent mud plugging tyres they will have tread on the side walls designed for this very problem. By turning the steering wheel left and right with gentle acceleration you can try to gain grip from the edge of the tyre to help pull a truck out of a rut or rock hole. This will also again help to condense any lose ground underneath and give room to flirt any loose excess out. An added bonus from this motion is if you’re still stuck you will now be able to access the tyres and have room to slide boards or stones under the tyres to aid your grip.
SPIN the WHEELS
Up to now we’ve recommended keeping off the throttle but occasionally a quick spin is what you’ll need. Mud tyres are designed to chuck out excess soil from underneath. Sometimes a combination of slow motion with wet mud or sand can clog the tread turning it into a slick. By spinning the tyres you can clear the tread and remove the loose ground from beneath. There is also a better chance of reaching the hard ground below to gain traction.
If tyres can’t grip then they can’t move you as we’ve explored above with loose ground. Sometimes it’s not the ground causing the problem but the truck being caught up preventing the tyre from reaching the track adequately and allowing the tyre to spin in the air. Friends can help by bouncing on bumpers or the side rails, the extra weight can help drive the tyres into the ground or bounce you over an obstacle. If you can’t clear an obstacle by out manoeuvring it then it’s time to track build. Branches, rocks, sticks anything that can be placed behind or in front of the wheels to compact the ground and fill the gap giving the tyres grip.
The old favourite fall back of any 4×4 tyre. By letting air out of tyres, or airing down, the tread will squash down and increase tread pattern in contact with the ground. The tyre will also become softer allowing the rubber to mould around and grip objects rather then bouncing off. Be sure to drive in a straight line to avoid popping the bead off the wheel. Once you’re free blow up the tyres to the correct pressure.
If these simple tips fail then you need to look at breaking out the recovery gear.
If you don’t have any onboard, then you need to think of options you have with the surrounding terrain and natural tools provided by mother nature … but that’s another article we have coming soon for self recovery techniques.