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Driving off-road for the first time isn’t something you should just go and do. Instead, there are some preparations you need to make – and questions to ask before driving off-road.
While there are lots of things to consider before going off-roading, we’ve got a list of four of the most critical questions to think about before you turn the wheel and head off the tarmac. Let’s review each question!
Am I Prepared for an Emergency?
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One of the first questions to ask before driving off-road is whether or not you’re ready for an emergency.
Sure, off-roading can be a lot of fun, but it also comes with plenty of risks – your vehicle might sustain damage that means you’re stuck overnight on the trail. Worse still, you or someone in your group might sustain an injury that requires first aid or transport out to a hospital.
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So, before you hit the trail, be sure you have all the tools you need for your vehicle to fix common problems. Also have a good first aid kit, plenty of food and water, and warm clothes in case you get caught in the cold.
Part of your kit should also include rain gear, a flashlight or headlamp, maps and a compass, and radios to stay in contact with other members of your group.
This is not a complete list of things to have for emergencies by any means, but it’ll get you started!
Questions to Ask Before Driving Off-Road: Is My Vehicle Ready?
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Like anything, having a successful off-road trip means taking the time to prepare. And one of the most important things to prepare for the trip is your vehicle.
Before you head out for your adventure, inspect your vehicle’s tires to ensure they are properly inflated and that there are no signs of cracks, punctures, or uneven wear. Also check the spare tire to ensure it’s ready to use in case you need it.
Check all the fluids, too, particularly the oil, engine coolant, and windshield washer fluid.
While you’re at it, make sure your 4WD system engages and disengages as it should. You should be able to switch from 2H to 4H and 4L without issue.
Of course, if you encounter any problems in your vehicle inspection, get it to a certified mechanic to have any issues fixed before your trip.
Do I Know the Rules of the Trail?
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When you head out off-roading, it’s not like there’s a posted list of rules at the trailhead that you have to follow. But there are plenty of unwritten rules and etiquette to follow on the trail. So, one of the most important questions to ask before driving off-road is, “do I know the rules of the trail?”
First and foremost, stay on marked trails. If there’s a track or ruts, follow it. Don’t make your own as it can cause severe damage to the environment and lead to trails being shut down to allow Mother Nature to repair the damage.
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Don’t venture into private property without permission. Signs that say no trespassing mean no trespassing! The same goes for wilderness areas. If vehicles aren’t allowed, don’t assume that you can bend the rules. Wilderness areas are designated as such to preserve habitats, and you plowing through in a 4×4 certainly doesn’t help.
Work to leave no trace as well. Whatever you bring with you into the woods needs to come back out with you.
Of course, obey any and all closed signs as well. They are there for a reason! Even if a road looks to be in perfectly fine condition, you should never blow by a closed sign or move barriers to access a closed road.
Questions to Ask Before Driving Off-Road: Who’s Going With Me?
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One of the most important questions to ask yourself before your first off-roading experience is, “Who’s going with me?”
While it might be tempting to head off-road for a very short jaunt by yourself, this is not a good idea. You never know when something might happen to you or your vehicle that puts you in serious danger. Having a friend along for the ride in another vehicle ensures that if you get stuck or have trouble with your vehicle, you have someone to help you troubleshoot (and get you out if you can’t resolve the problem).
Besides, off-roading is more enjoyable when you can experience it with a friend, so call up your buddies, see who’s down for an off-road adventure, and go have some fun!