What Not To Do in a 4×4

Off-roading in your 4×4 is your fundamental right as a muddy, petroleum-blooded American, but doing it the wrong way can ruin it for everyone. Bad habits, poor behavior, or lack of respect can rob you of your machine, your freedom to drive, and your dignity. Follow some basic advice to keep from being “that dude” in your 4×4.

Respect the Trail

What Not To Do in a 4x4 - American Auto Brokers

Image via Flickr by Tours and Tales.com

Don’t be heavy-footed and rip up the road. It will only make it worse for the other drivers. There’s no need to be a loud, mud-slinging, gravel-chucking, erosion-causing wild boar. Be outside to enjoy nature — not to attack it.

On a related note, don’t forget to clean up your trash. Wrecking the off-road park will certainly lead to banishment for everyone who wants to drive there.

Install Recovery Points

You will get stuck at some point. The vehicle tugging you out needs somewhere to attach, so make sure you have tow hooks or other shackles for attaching recovery straps. Don’t tie to your bumper unless you don’t like it and want it ripped off.

By no means should you attempt to pull your vehicle out by the tow ball. Apply too much force to it, and it will snap off, becoming a high-caliber bullet. Then your buddy has to explain how he got that two-inch hole in his radiator — or worse, in his head.

Don’t Overload Your Vehicle

Those numbers on your door sticker are not a suggestion or even a challenge. They’re the law and also a good idea. Your vehicle will wear out much more quickly if you commonly ask it to tow or haul too much. If you get in an accident, even if it looks like the other guy’s fault, you may find yourself to blame simply because you have more weight in the bed or on the hitch than your machine is rated for.

Don’t Floor It to Get Unstuck

Sure, it’s fun to watch that guy spinning his wheels like a cartoon, then exiting his rig kicking and swearing — but you don’t want to be him. If you feel yourself getting stuck in mud, sand, or snow, stop. Get into four-wheel low, if you have it. With a gentle foot on the throttle, ease your way forward. Calmly shift into reverse and get yourself free with a rocking motion. Flooring it will only bury you further.

Save the Partying for Later

You may be way out in the woods and think that no cops are watching, but you’re still operating a couple of tons of deadly metal. You’re even further from help if someone gets hurt, so be responsible. Drinking and driving don’t mix no matter how far off the road you are, so when you’re done with the truck, park it and hang the keys up in a tree before you crack a beer.

The best practice for safe and responsible four-wheeling is to watch those who are more experienced. Listen to what they say and do what they do. Be smart, or you will spoil the sport for everybody.