Driving your Landrover offroad takes practise, so do practise techniques first beforeyou need to use them in earnest. Don't take risks and think safety at all times.Make the most of an off road centre. Although there are environmental issues to consider when off-roading, on serious expeditions in other locations, vehicle safety may take preference over environmental issues. Your life may depend on it.
Driving Through Deep Water:
You should always check for submerged objects and underwater potholes, also whether the bottom is soft mud or a solid one . If you can't see bottom, walk where your left tyre will go and return by where the right tyre will go. If you've got air conditioning, turn it off. If water could reach the cooling fan, it's far better to switch off the engine and let it cool, then the electric fan won't start up when your in the water. The fan blades can bend in the water and damage the radiator if they're rotating.
Remember that sideways currents can affect the directional steering and your tyres act as floats, reducing the pressure your Landrover puts on the ground, making it easier for the vehicle to be pushd sideways.You are usually safe with water up to the hubs and probably the door sills.
Drive slowly and steadily, pushing a bow wave in front of you, this will create a lower water level inside the engine bay. Don't stop or accelerate through it and keep your engine running, if water gets in the exhaust it's very difficult to re-start. Check your brakes when you're out the water, putting light pressure on the brake pedal whilst driving for a short distance will dry both the brakeshoes and drums. Disc brakes will dry out more quickly.
If the water was muddy your brake drums should be removed and cleaned out whenever possible.When the axles are submerged water may be sucked in through the breather valve or oil seals as they suddenly cool. It's a good idea to let hot axles cool before entering cold water, changing the oil is much cheaper than changing the diff and bearings.
If you go deep water crossing intentionally, the breather tubes should be raised up above possible water level. Properly fitted snorkels are essential in deep water and all the electrics in the engine bay also need to be waterproofed . In an emergency with no snorkel, a radiator blind can be made from tarpaulin. This should stop the water from going through the radiator and guide it under the engine. Keep the tarpaulin clear of the wheels and avoiding the hot exhaust, tie it behind the engine bay securely,. If you stall the engine in water you will probably have to dry all the electrics before it will restart. Failing this you can move the vehicle forward or backward by cranking the engine in gear .
Driving in Ditches and Deep Ruts:
Make sure you know your vehicle's ground clearance and the location of its lowest points. Let the wheels follow their own route when inside a deep rut and avoid over steering. Grip the steering wheel lightly but be ready to take firm control if needs be. Ditches should be Crossed at an angle, never direct on. Before you try this technique, learn about your Landrover's approach and departure angles.
Hill Climbing and Descending:
Take a good look before you start. Walk it if possible, choose the easiest route, avoiding rocks, stumps, holes etc., check for departure and approach angles that could cause problems. Find out what's at the top of the hill. Make sure everything inside the vehicle is safely stowed away or tied down.
Select your gear and go at a steady pace, using the accelerator as little as possible, but enough to avoid stalling. Stay on the power but if a wheel spins, come off the power enough to get traction again. If you stop on the hill, apply the brakes and clutch and immediately select reverse. On the way down, release the brakes and engage the clutch fully - do not use the brakes. If the wheels lock you'll lose steering and slide sideways and could even roll over. Without braking, reverse down the hill in gear in the straightest line you can. . You can safely back down a hill far too steep to climb without braking, as the engine will brake safely for you.
To slow your descent down a hill don't use the brakes, use engine braking .Should the back end start to slide around, then accelerate slightly so that you regain control. If you do brake when driving down a hill and a skid develops, ease of the brakes. Although it goes against your instincts, you will gain traction again and be able to steer. To be steerable, Wheels must be turning and If your vehicle turns sideways it will probably roll.
Driving on Long Grass:
Long grass can hide the most amazing obstacles and holes, as well as wrapping round the crank pulley, blocking the radiator and even catching fire on the hot exhaust.
Driving on Sand:
It's not really a major problem driving on moist or wet sand, if you can see tyre patterns then you know that the sand is firm. If the tyre tracks are narrow v's, the sand is soft. You should check that there isn't virtually all dry sand just below the surface. If you're following another vehicle which is breaking through a thin crust, drive your own crust, don't follow in their tracks, there's less chance of loosing critical momentum that way.
Maintaining momentum, avoiding braking and not making sharp turns, are the golden rules for driving in soft sand. When you're setting off, do it slowly, slipping the clutch if necessary, in an automatic, use 2nd gear. But you must never change gear or slip the clutch when you're under load, or you will come to a stop immediately. You might need a running start to get enough momentum, but we are not talking about speed here, but you should be in the highest gear that will do the job.
To reduce the need for momentum, reduce the tyre pressure by half. Compressor air pumps come in very useful here! Spinning wheels will dig the vehicle in to the chassis in seconds, so if you do come to a stop, get out and take a look first. Don't try to power your way out of your difficulties, if necessary use a recovery technique.
On steep sandy descents,don't brake, but accelerate your way out of a slide . Don't traverse a dune, drive straight up or down it and don't drive blindly over the top of one. The desert terrain is most easily judged when the sun is low or when the spot lights are placed high on your Landrover. If there's a sand storm, don't drive through just park the vehicle downwind and sit it out. Corrugations should always be driven over at the best speed to minimise vibration and if you drive on sand regularly, it would probably be wise to invest in a long handled shovel and sand ladders.
Driving Through Mud:
Making progress through mud depends ultimately on the tread on your tyres. The more aggressive your tread, the more likely you are to reach your destination. However even the most aggressive treads can't cope with wet clay. Turning the steering left and right will often find a bit more grip when progress is about to holt. Steady momentum is again the key to success, frequent gear changing and acceleration are not. You can lower tyre pressures by half, in the same way as driving on sand. Braking should be checked after driving deep mud. Remove mud from your vehicle to prolong chassis life. This is where pressure washers are useful!
Usually, it's best with large rocks to hit them squarely as the most vunerable part of a tyre is the sidewall and you need to avoid cuts and scratches. Use slow steady progress in a low gear with your foot off the clutch pedal and with a manual gearbox, brake only if it's essential. Automatic gear boxes give less engine braking, so you'll probably have to brake gently on the down side of a rock. It's much easier to maintain a slow steady pace than to start off again after you've stalled the engine. Make sure you know where all your wheels are and where they are going to l be a few feet further on. Choose a route which avoids getting high-centred and if in doubt, get out and move a rock or pack smaller ones near it.
Remember that the Earth is here for everyone, not just for off-roaders, so why not care for the land you drive over. Don't use more aggressive tyres than is really necessary, lower your tyre pressures on fragile land and don't make new tracks, follow ones that exist already.
Four driven wheels are less damaging than two driven wheels because they spread the traction effort needed, but even so, don't travel in large groups and be aware of the interests of wildlife and other people.
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