Lets face it owning a 4×4 allows us the privilege to explore many a track whilst lesser mortals will always wonder ‘what’s up there’?
As ever a change in terrain means a change to our driving technique, but isn’t that why we love driving 4×4’s, a new challenge, skills to acquire, the kick of adrenaline and the buzz of achievement.
Driving over rocks isn’t part of most people’s everyday drive but the opportunity arises every now and then if you tend to step off the black top. Most 4×4’s (not your average crossover), are designed for the task, and for some scaling a rock path is a chance to really test out the kit we’ve upgraded and added to our motors, for others its just part of their exploring adventure travels.
So what are the basics when were faced with rocks in our path?
First lower your tyre pressure, the softer tyre will grip better moulding around the rocks or boulders rather then bouncing off or worse jarring the rocks into movement or even snapping and breaking your trucks components.
Engage first gear low range for control and if there are varied heights or slippery surfaces engage your diffs.
Look under your car confirming your lowest points and height of clearance. This will help when choosing a route, one inch to the right or left could be an expensive error if you haven’t remembered the location of the exhaust or fuel tank, rocks don’t flex, they tear.
If you have a winch place the hook in a high position ready for action, enabling you to grab easily.
Choose a line and advance slow and steady, let the truck do its job. CV joints work better in a straight line so moving the steering wheel side to side to gain traction is not a game plan. A slow and steady approach will prevent spinning your wheels, flirting shale and rocks into your undercarriage or off your path is not a good move, adding consequences possibly affecting the angle or stability of the vehicle.
Build a track if there isn’t an obvious route; use smaller rocks to fill in deep holes or to create steps on to high rocks. Yes it will take a bit of time but quicker then sorting a bent steering arm or cracked diff house.
Use a guide, someone to walk/ climb in front of you that can advise which line is best. They are in a better position to see obstacles that need avoiding, stop you in your tracks before you lunge off or into trouble and they are on hand to pack rocks under a tyre when its not always possible for you to park, get out and do it yourself. Just organise your hand signs or use a two-way communication system.
Lastly, keep your thumbs on the top of your steering wheel. Hooking them round might feel cosy and give the impression of better grip and control but when your wheels catch a rock and snatch the steering wheel from your hands, that thumb will break.
Remember; take your time, use the tips above and enjoy the experience of rock crawling …
Check out this video on attacking rock steps by Mad Matt down under …