Going off-road is a popular venture for many drivers these days, but you need a good vehicle that’s up for the challenge to do it safely.
Many features make for a good offroad vehicle, but the list of the most important ones includes things like adequate ground clearance, solid underbody protection, special tires, and a drivetrain that can handle tough terrain and low-range gearing that gives you the choices you need.
What follows is a breakdown of these features that explains why they matter and what you should look for in an offroad vehicle.
1. Drivetrain and Ground Clearance
As a general rule, you’ll need either all-wheel or four-wheel drive to go off-road, with four-wheel drive the slightly more rugged choice.
The issue with ground clearances is going over obstacles, specifically, rocks, hills, creeks, and mud, all of which can wreak havoc on your undercarriage and drive train if you don’t have enough room to guarantee protection.
You’ll need at least 8.5 inches of clearance, and you should look to get 10 or so if you’re going to be dealing with particularly rough terrain.
If you’re roughing it in your off-road journeys, there are ways to increase your ground clearance. These include larger tires, adding coil spring spacers, or investing in a kit to lift your suspension, which is a popular aftermarket add-on.
You can also do body armor and a winch kit, but for most trips, any of the aforementioned options should give you what you need.
2. Gearing and Low-end Torque
Low-end torque and gearing are joined at the hip, and you need to get them both right for consistent offroad travel. Low-end torque gives you the ability to maintain momentum over a variety of obstacles without having to tax your engine too much, and it’ll save you a little gas because you can go light on the pedaling.
Gearing is what makes the difference when you’re offroading, though, because it can multiply the effects of low-end torque exponentially.
A lot of engines for vehicles designed to go offroad have an extremely low first gear, which is also called a granny gear, and this allows you to get up a steep grade without using the gas pedal.
Low gearing is incredibly important in offroad driving, especially if you have larger tires. The number you’re looking for is the axle ratio—the larger it is, the more torque it gives you, which means you have more choices about both the terrain and how fast you can go.
3. Wheel Travel
Tires on off-road vehicles need two things traction and overall vehicle stability. The combination is called wheel articulation, and it’s designed to prevent wheel travel. You can get this through a solid axle, which tends to promote articulation, especially if the sway bar on the axle is disconnected.
If your offroad travel includes desert racing, though, you may want to go with something with independent suspension, which will give you a smoother overall ride.
If you’re the type of person who likes to go off-road, then you’re going to need a 4wd truck or SUV. 4wd is the only way to go when it comes to off-road driving, as it provides the power and traction you need to deal with rough terrain.
Without 4wd, you’ll be stuck in the mud (literally) and won’t be able to enjoy the great outdoors. So if you’re planning on doing any off-roading, make sure that your vehicle is equipped with 4wd. It’s the only way to go!
4. Good Tires
Regardless of how much you may be tempted, street tires are not a good choice for offroad driving. You need special tires that have deeper tread, tougher sidewalls that can handle whatever conditions you’re accessing, and a compound that’s suited to that same terrain.
To get added protection, you can let a small amount of air out of the tires when you reach your destination, which will give you both more contact and extra traction.
5. Crawl Control
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of taking your vehicle off-road and exploring the great outdoors. But let’s be honest, sometimes the terrain can be a bit… challenging. That’s where crawl control comes in.
This feature helps to regulate your speed and keep you moving forward, even when the going gets tough. So whether you’re traversing a rocky incline or wading through deep mud, crawl control will help you stay in control and make the most of your off-roading adventure.
So go ahead and explore to your heart’s content – crawl control has got you covered.
6. Locking Differential
If you’re serious about off-roading, then you need a locking differential. Without one, your vehicle will be at a disadvantage when it comes to traction and stability. A locking differential helps to distribute power evenly to all wheels, giving you the ability to conquer even the most challenging terrain. It’s an essential piece of equipment for any serious off-roader, and it can make all the difference when you’re out on the trails.
So if you’re looking to take your off-roading to the next level, be sure to invest in a locking differential. It’s the best way to ensure that you’ll be able to tackle anything that comes your way.
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What are great accessories to add for off-roading?
Sure, you can have the perfect stock truck for off-roading! However, there are also some helpful items you can add to your truck to make it even better.
1. Off-Road Bumpers
One thing that all off-roaders have in common is the need for reliable off-road equipment. And when it comes to off-road bumpers, there’s no better option than those from Off-Road Bumpers Inc. OO
Off-road bumpers are designed to withstand the rigors of off-road driving, and they’re available in a variety of styles to suit your needs. Whether you’re looking for a basic bumper or something more substantial, this article here has the perfect solution for you.
2. High-Lift Jack
Any true off-roading enthusiast knows that a high-lift jack is an essential piece of equipment. Whether you’re bogged down in the mud or stuck on a rocky ledge, a high-lift jack like this one here can help get you out of a tight spot. And while there are many different types of high-lift jacks on the market, choosing the right one for your needs is essential.
3. Portable air compressor
That’s because off-roading can be tough on tires, and you never know when you might end up with a flat. With a portable air compressor, you can easily inflate your tires before heading back onto the highway.
Plus, if you’re ever stuck in the mud or sand, a portable air compressor like this one can help you get unstuck quickly by helping you air down your tires to give a bit more traction from your tires. So if you’re serious about off-roading, make sure to invest in a high-quality portable air compressor.
There are a lot of great offroad vehicles out there, but it’s also very easy to buy the wrong one for your needs. Don’t fall for the flashiest vehicle. It’s more important to do your shopping with a specific list of needs, then match those up to the best vehicle for you.
So how do you determine those needs? Simple, at least to start. How much offroad driving will you do, and where will you be doing it. Are you an occasional weekender or vacationer, or do you have a major interest in doing a lot of offroad driving?
That choice will tell you a lot about what you need, and it may tell you that you don’t need an offroad vehicle at all. If you’re hardcore about offroading, though, it will also dictate a lot of the vehicle choices you need to make, so make sure to stick to your list when you do your shopping.