October 12, 2013

A crossover's weak link: could be the driver

The best way to make a soft off roader go farther is to know how to drive it well. The best way to do that is to take an off-road driving course. But for now, adopt the off-road driving adage: as slow as possible, as fast as necessary. In other words, pointing your crossover at a track obstacle and giving it heaps is not likely to end well.

• On the other hand, momentum may be your best friend on such surfaces as dry, loose sand.
• Take time to assess an obstacle; look for the easiest way through; have a passenger get out and act as a guide; if you’re fairly sure the vehicle won’t make it, don’t try unless you’re with at least one other vehicle, have proper recovery equipment, know how to use it and don’t mind if something gets dented.
• Know your vehicle. Look underneath and see what bits are vulnerable to damage. Note how long the front and rear overhangs are.
• Carry some basic self recovery equipment, even just a spade and/or shovel and a wide, strong piece of wood to act as a base for the jack. Know how to use the jack. Start worrying when the cellphone signal fades.
• If you’re beach driving, don’t play Russian roulette with the tides; allow plenty of time to get back.

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