4x4 driving tips

If you would like to learn to drive off the beaten track, learn from the experts. BFGoodrich has won more than 200 titles in rallies and cross country rallies like the Baja 1000 and Dakar.
Off-road driving can be fun but it's a completely different type of driving.
Before venturing off the beaten track, we recommend that you learn some basic techniques, so that you don't find yourself stuck in a difficult situation.

Bog

Before you get into a bog, stop to

  • take the time to study the terrain and determine the best path
  • remove any pieces of wood
  • fasten the straps at the front and back
  • reduce tyre pressure to 1.5 bars if necessary

You can then get across the bog:

  • use the axle differential lock
  • change into 2nd or 3rd gear
  • maintain a constant acceleration
  • if the vehicle is bogged down as far as the axle and won't move forward, reverse hard to regain grip.

Once out of the bog:

  • clean the tyres and wheels
  • re-inflate the tyres to normal pressure

Fording

Before fording the river, stop to:

  • investigate the ford and detect any holes, stones, trunks, etc.
  • determine a path and an exit point
  • check the vehicle is waterproof
  • deflate the tyres to 1.5 bars

You can then ford the river:

  • enter the water gently at a constant speed
  • if the engine stalls in the middle of the stream, whatever you do, don't restart the vehicle. There is a risk that water will be sucked in through the exhaust pipe or even that air will get in if the engine is restarted. You then need to be winched out, with the engine off

Once over the ford

  • re-inflate the tyres to normal pressure
  • check under the vehicle to remove any grass and branches

Axle crossing

Beforehand, stop to:

  • study the terrain
  • lock the differentials

You can then move forwards:

  • on the flat or on sloping ground, change into second gear
  • when driving downhill, change into first gear and brake gently without locking the wheels.
  • if you get stuck, reverse back, then try again with a different path.

Driving on a slope

Climbing a slope:

  • lock the differentials
  • attack the climb in first or second gear
  • start the climb
  • if you get stuck, brake hard by "standing on the brakes". The engine stalls. Disengage the clutch then put the vehicle into reverse
  • restart the engine with the clutch engaged and drive back down using the handbrake

Descending a slope:

  • approach the slope in first gear
  • lock the centre differential
  • never disengage the clutch
  • use the handbrake to control the descent
  • if the slope is very steep, brake to assist the handbrake, advancing cm by cm
  • if the vehicle skids, regain grip by pressing gently on the accelerator

Climbing or descending a step

  • if it's a step up over 50 cm high, attack it head-on; if it's any higher, approach it at a 45° angle
  • if it's a step down, always approach it head-on
  • engage first gear
  • press the front wheels against the step and come to a stop
  • accelerate to get the front wheels over
  • press the rear wheels against the step
  • accelerate to get the rear wheels over
  • for a step down, advance cm by cm, controlling your descent with the brake

Climbing a hill

Beforehand, stop to

  • assess the slope and identify any obstacles that might make the slope steeper and increase the risk of tipping (do not trust the clinometer)
  • plan your path and exit zone
  • deflate the tyres, but not too much to avoid tyre roll-off

To climb the hill

  • avoid braking
  • never disengage the clutch
  • do not use the differential lock
  • attack the slope in first gear
  • drive on to the slope pointing the front wheels slightly uphill then move forward with crab-like movements
  • if the vehicle drifts, immediately point the front wheels towards the foot of the slope
  • if the vehicle tips, turn the front wheels towards the foot of the slope and start the descent

Afterwards, stop to

  • re-inflate your tyres to the normal pressure

Getting over a ditch or bank

  • Approach the ditch at a 45° angle
  • Plan a fairly wide exit zone
  • Lock the differentials
  • Cross the ditch with minimum throttle in 1st gear
  • If you get stuck with crossed axles, reverse then try again on a different path
  • Once well-positioned and stable, give a tap on the accelerator to move forward
  • Release the accelerator when the rear wheels are across