4WD Technique: Finding Traction

As off road adventurers we are all going to find ourselves held up by a lack of traction from time to time. But before you try and double your speed to get through, or break out the winch; there might be a few things left you can try.

First of all, know your vehicle. With some time spent out on the tracks you will come to know how much suspension travel you have, what your approach and departure angles are like and how long your wheelbase is. Use this knowledge to walk the track and pick out the area’s you know you will struggle with and either pick a line to avoid them, or do a little track building to get you through.

If the terrain causing you trouble is sand or mud, try lowering your tyre pressures even further; keep in mind though that pressures too low can cause tyres to roll of the bead during spirited driving. Keep your momentum just quick enough to get you through the tricky patch and avoid nailing the throttle and breaking traction. There are two techniques more specific to mud. Firstly, try turning the wheels to allow the sidebiters on your tyres to claw the ruts for traction. Secondly, if the mud is particularly thick you might consider breaking the rule of no hard throttle for just a few moments to allow those tyres to spin and clear the tread blocks.

Know when to use, and when not to use the brakes! If you are in a situation where your truck is lifting wheels and breaking traction then the left foot braking technique may help. Applying a little brake while on the throttle may help to stop the wheel in the air from spinning, thereby sending drive to the wheel on the ground and powering you out of a sticky situation. However, treat that brake pedal as if it’s a landmine when coming down steep hills with a loose surface. If those wheels lock up your pride and joy could become a 3 tonne toboggan with no steering or stopping. In this situation, your only hope may be to go against instinct and give a little throttle. If you can get the wheel speed to catch up with the vehicle then you may be able to gain control.

Most importantly; don’t jump straight into obstacles without having a think about it first. And don’t treat it as a race. Believe me, rushing things is where it can all go wrong!


Alex Garner

G’day! I’m Alex. I’m a West Australian photographer/writer and the owner of the blog Intents Offroad. I grew up camping out of a 4WD and constantly searching for new ways to enjoy the outdoors, a feeling that I know many of us share. I believe that adventure can be found in every experience whether conquering a mountain, relaxing on a far away beach or surviving a hurricane in a tent. Visit Intents Offroad if this sounds like your scene! http://www.intentsoffroad.com


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