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Old 3rd August 2012, 15:57   #1
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Default Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

A friend sent me this link since he knew i was into offroading:



Seeing this, i realized that yes, there are many times that we do make mistakes during offroading.

It's true, i've made many mistakes and continue to learn from them. Some of them have been pointed out to me and some i've learned the hard way.

So what are the ones you noticed? Maybe it will help people avoid making them in the future.

Here goes my list:

1. Going downhill on brakes
2. No winch blanket
3. Not listening to spotters
4. Having no idea where the steering is pointed
5. Not carrying recovery gear
6. Not carrying medications / food / water
7. Entering water with a splash
8. Not walking an obstacle
9. Having no clue where the diff is located
10. Not using gloves for wire ropes
11. Not coming down in reverse gear after a failed ascent attempt
12. No roll bar / seat belts
13. Not carrying adequate tools
14. Carrying too many people in the car during obstacles leading to extra loads and a twisted prop shaft
15. Entering deep water without snorkel
16. Poorly fitted snorkel
17. No breather tubes for GB / Diff
18. Entering water with an extremely hot engine
19. Not understanding tip over angles
20. Overspeeding on obstacles
21. Thumb in driving
22. Not doing a pre offroad check on vehicle before getting the vehicle on a OTR trip
23. No spare tyre
24. Offroading alone without a back up vehicle or telling someone where you are going
25. Not knowing when to get off the gas and leading to burning of the clutch
26. Driving on tarmac with 4x4 engaged
27. Forgetting to engage the hub locks
28. Wrong gearing
29. Wrong tyre pressure
30. Not securing loose objects in the vehicle
31. Not checking water depth before entering
32. Spectators in kill zone during recovery
33. Wearing improper footwear while driving
34. Entering a descent sideaways
35. Trying to cross a river without judging the flow rate
36. If you've not offroaded before, don't attempt it alone
37. Don't keep your hands outside the vehicle
38. Not knowing basic DIY

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 7th August 2012 at 14:22.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 16:54   #2
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Tejas,

Please add:

1. Entering water without first gauging the depth.
2. Not putting the rear top up (severely affects visibility in Jeeps & Gypsies). Better to even take the doors off, if possible.
3. Not checking condition of spare (and whether it's inflated) before off-roading.
4. Holding steering wheel with hands wrapped around them tight. Can break your thumb on a sharp obstacle.
5. Standing too close to the tow rope when a vehicle is being pulled out. If it snaps, there goes your head.

Most of all, not understanding the vehicle, terrain, your limits and your ride's limits.
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Old 4th August 2012, 10:59   #3
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Going downhill on brakes

This is a much debated topic between gypsy and jeep owners.

There are numerous threads on this if you do a search, i'm just writing down the gist here.

The ideal way to go down is to engage 4 low and slot the vehicle into 1st and let the vehicle crawl down the slope without any inputs from A, B or C (accelerator, brake or clutch).

Let the engine do all the work and use engine / gear braking.

What happens if you come down on brakes? On a steep incline, coming down on brakes, will lock your wheels and you will slide down rather than crawl down. In a slushy decline, if you slide uncontrollably, you will not be able to steer the vehicle and correct your descent. The crawl in first low gives you the ability to correct this. Sometimes, in the crawl, in extreme declines and slush, you may need to tap the accelerator a bit to get the vehicle back on course. Ofcourse, there's a huge debate raging on whether to use 2nd gear in such situations.
You can read about that here: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-ex...port-card.html (EXAMM Report Card)

Videos of going down on brakes:





No winch blanket

A must when using wire ropes and essential even when using a synthetic rope. The use of a good winch blanket ensures that if a wire rope breaks or a fixing point or shackle comes apart, there is a greatly reduced risk of severe damage. Without a winch blanket to deaden the ferocity of a catapulted flying rope the consequences could be disastrous.

Best thing is to use a proper winch blanket or use floor mats properly secured on stones stuffed in socks and slung over the blanket.

Ideal weight of a winch blanket should be 1kg minimum.

Here's what can happen if the winch cable snaps:



Not listening to spotters

Many times drivers don't listen to spotters. As a driver, however good you are, you cannot know exactly the position of your tyres, diff in relation to rocks, etc. A good spotter is your third eye. However, ego or adrenaline takes over and the driver doesn't listen to spotters and lands up being in a precarious situation either causing a danger to himself and people around him or getting himself stuck or breaking something of the vehicle.

Here's an example of what could happen if you do not listen to your spotter:



Having no idea where the steering is pointed

After a slush run, many times one has no clue if the steering is straight or the wheels are pointed in another direction. Thus, as soon as your front wheels get good traction, your vehicle may abruptly change direction. A good idea is to put your head out and see the direction of the wheels (if it is safe), listen to the spotters or as i read here (Offroad Driving Mistakes: Braking | FunRover - A Land Rover Blog for Landy nuts), put a tape on the steering wheel which shows what direction is straight.

Here's a video:




Not carrying recovery gear

Been noticed many times. One must at least have a properly rated tow rope & rated D shackles. A winch is a luxury, but if not, at least invest in a shovel.
This is critical if you venture out alone. In this case a winch or shovel will be your life savers.

Thumb rule: your tow robe must be rated at least 3 times the fully laden weight of your vehicle.


Not carrying medications / food / water

You may have planned a short 1 hour offroad excursion but due to unforeseen circumstances, you may be stuck in the wilderness for a much longer time. In this case water and food, especially power bars would make a welcome treat. Always carry your medications, especially for diabetics (who also mud carry food). If you wear specs, it's always a good idea to carry a spare.

Entering water with a splash

Entering water with a splash makes for a great photograph, but that's all. The splash increases your chances of water being sucked into your intake, the splash will temporarily blind you and you may land up causing an accident. Always enter slowly and create a bow wave in front of you.

Not walking an obstacle

This is a cardinal mistake one makes. Many a times an obstacle would look simple from your car but land up being tricky. Always walk the obstacle first. As a thumb rule, if you can't walk the obstacle, 99% of the times your vehicle will not be able to cross it either.

Having no clue where the diff is located

Some vehicles have a diff (pumpkin) that is centrally located, some have it off center. At all times one needs to be aware the position of the same since this will be the lowest point of your car (along with the catalytic converter in some cars). So if you're trying to go over a rock, you need to make sure that you do not beach over it or worse crack the diff. A simple way is to put a tape over the bonnet where the diff is.

Not using gloves for wire ropes

Wire rope used for recovery or in winches is basically made up of multiple strands of wire tied into bundles and twisted to form a rope. Due to use, many times individual wires may break and fray and can cause severe injuries when handling the wire. Always use leather gloves when handling the ropes.

Here's an image of the same:

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Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 4th August 2012 at 18:09.
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Old 6th August 2012, 11:16   #4
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Not coming down in reverse gear after a failed ascent attempt

It's not uncommon that there may be a failed attempt while attempting an ascent. Nor is it uncommon that as one realizes that they cannot make it to the top, they will come down in reverse on brakes. This is extremely dangerous and one can loose control and go sideways leading to a topple. The ideal way is: as soon as you realize that you will not be able to make the climb and need to back down, shift to reverse (extremely quickly) and crawl down the slope. This gives you more control than coming down using brakes.


Have a look at this video, see how fast he slides down after his failed attempts:

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Old 6th August 2012, 11:55   #5
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejas@perioimpl View Post
What happens if you come down on brakes? On a steep incline, coming down on brakes, will lock your wheels and you will slide down rather than crawl down. In a slushy decline, if you slide uncontrollably, you will not be able to steer the vehicle and correct your descent. The crawl in first low gives you the ability to correct this. Sometimes, in the crawl, in extreme declines and slush, you may need to tap the accelerator a bit to get the vehicle back on course. Ofcourse, there's a huge debate raging on whether to use 2nd gear in such situations.
You can read about that here: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-ex...port-card.html (EXAMM Report Card)
Man, you guys don't let it go.

The whole argument happened because people WERE sliding (not crawling) in first low. If the slope had enough traction, the Jeeps would not have slided in first low. That was not the case. Since all Jeeps without MT tyres were sliding in first low without steering control, I suggested using 2nd low and retaining steering control. Eventually the right technique was suggested by Jayesh (jack33) who does it for a living. Use accelerator while staying in 1st low. With that solution, it is no more a debate for me.
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Old 7th August 2012, 11:11   #6
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

No roll bar / seat belts

Safety first. Period.

Many 4x4s which don't have a b pillar usually sport some form of a roll bar. However, certain older ones do not have one and the owners are hesitant to install one and loose "originality". This could be extremely life threatening during a roll over situation. If you want to preserve "originality" install a bolt on roll cage that can be used during OTRs or get another vehicle. No point in risking your life.

Same goes for seat belts. In case of a roll over, even if you have a roll bar installed, if you don't have a seat belt or haven't worn yours, you could be flung out of the vehicle or under it resulting in a life threatening situation.

Read how the seat belt and roll bar saved the lives of three people here:

KPD: Seat belts, roll bar saved lives of trapped Jeep riders Knoxville News Sentinel

See the slow motion part of this video how the occupants (who didn't fasten their seat belts) are thrown around during their jeep roll over:



I didn't even search for a video of what would happen if the 4x4 rolled over and didn't have a roll bar. It would just be a gruesome video and frankly it's a no brainer that a roll bar is a must.
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Old 7th August 2012, 11:15   #7
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Entering a descent sideaways

Never ever do that. Always position your vehicle in such a way that you enter the descent straight. An angled approach can lead to a deadly rollover if you can't straighten out your vehicle in time.



Same goes for attempting climbs as well. Always a straight approach.
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Old 7th August 2012, 11:39   #8
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Here is something for the heroes who stand on the back. (Source Uknown)

Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them-241870_250507031733571_1363591280_o.jpg

Last edited by Samurai : 8th August 2012 at 07:47.
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Old 7th August 2012, 12:15   #9
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Not carrying adequate tools

We have faced many instances where highly prepared 4x4s didn't have simple tools or rather didn't have any tools. You may puncture your tyre or twist your front prop shaft or anything else. A basic tool kit to remove th etyre, disengage the prop shaft, etc is a must.

Also a must is carrying basic spares like extra hose pipes, plastic ties, assorted nuts and bolts, oils, etc.


Carrying too many people in the car during obstacles leading to extra loads and a twisted prop shaft

Again, we've experienced this twice. Yes twice. Unfortunately we didn't learn from our first mistake. Four of us in a jeep during the recce trying to cross a small obstacle led to a twisted front prop shaft. And yes, first time we didn't carry enough tools as well.

Max two people in the vehicle during an obstacle is our rule from now on.



Entering deep water without snorkel

So many times i've seen this. People enter water without a snorkel only to realize it's deep. Even after that they still try to proceed forward causing water to be sucked into the air intake leading to catastrophic engine damage.





Poorly fitted snorkel

I remember Behram Dhabhar mentioning somewhere about a poorly fitted snorkel. A poorly fitted snorkel is as good as no snorkel. The rubber tubings must be fitted to metal tubes and fastened properly with clips and tested properly.

Can someone suggest a good away of testing/verifying a proper snorkel fitment?



No breather tubes for GB / Diff

Diffs and gearboxes have a release valve which lets off gases that may build up. These are one way valves. However, during water crossings, especially deep crossings, the water pressure outside builds up and causes the water to enter through the valve and mix with the oil. This will completely eat up your gears and cause havoc. A set of properly fitted brother pipes running all the way to a high point is a must.

If you do enter deep water without a breather, always immediately stop and check the oil condition. Here again a tool kit and carrying of oil will help immensely.

Here's a a video about diff breathers:




Entering water with an extremely hot engine

Never ever enter water when your engine is hot. It can lead to a cracked head. Only enter if you can put your hand on the engine and it's cold enough to touch.

That doesn't mean that you burn your hand trying to do that!



Trying to cross a river without judging the flow rate

There are so many videos on youtube showing how vehicles have been swept off the path due to a fast gushing river.

As a thumb rule, if you can't walk across, neither will your vehicle drive across. Again please be careful when you try to walk across.

See this video (at least he redeemed himself by having attached a cable to something before attempting the crossing):





If you've not offroaded before, don't attempt it alone

Here's a self explanatory video:


Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 7th August 2012 at 12:58.
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Old 7th August 2012, 12:48   #10
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Not understanding tip over angles

You must always judge the tip over angle of your vehicle. Going sideways on an incline is a sure shot method to tip over sideways.

See the end of this video of the sideways tip over:



Bigger tyres and lifts change the center of gravity of the vehicle and can lead to greater chances of a tip over.

Here's a brilliant article to calculate the tip over angle and center of gravity of your vehicle:

Center of Gravity and Roll-Over Angle - Jeepaholics Anonymous

In case of a possibility of a tip over laterally, try to turn into the direction of the tilt. It may save you.


Overspeeding on obstacles

Do not overspeed on obstacles.

As a thumb rule: as slow as you can and as fast as necessary.

A fast run through an obstacle will get you great flying pictures but will in all probability break something

As the poster of this video aptly terms his upload: How to break a dana 30:




Thumb in driving

It's important not to place your thumbs on the inside of the steering wheel. When driving offroad, ruts, potholes, rocks, hidden objects in mud, etc, all can cause the the wheel to suddenly turn. A sudden jerk of the wheel can cause the spokes of the wheel to whip around resulting in the thumb being bruised, dislocated or even broken if it is left inside the wheel. Make it a habit to keep your thumbs safely on the outside of the steering wheel where they are out of harms way. Consciously done often enough and it should become second nature to you. Today with power steering, this technique is not as important at it once was when manual steering was more common and steering stabilizers were rare. Still with today's higher horsepower engines and more gun-hoe driving styles, it's a good idea to think of the thumbs and save them from the force at which the steering wheel turns when hitting an obstruction. This technique also helps save the thumbs when harsh bumps or accidents are encountered and you are jerked forward. With the thumb on the outside, it again is not bent backwards.

Common Offroad Driving Techniques


Not doing a pre offroad check on vehicle before getting the vehicle on a OTR trip

Always do a pre offroad check of your vehicle. A pre checked vehicle has a lesser chance of breakdowns compared to a vehicle which has not been inspected and may have a potential flaw. Offroaders are a happy bunch and will always help broken down vehicles. However, if they realize that you could have prevented a breakdown by a simple check, though they will still help you, they will not be a happy bunch.

Read about the pre offroading check list here:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-ex...checklist.html (Pre-Offroading checklist)


No spare tyre

A cardinal and completely avoidable mistake. It is highly probable that you may bust a tyre and having a spare is extremely essential.

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 7th August 2012 at 14:24.
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Old 7th August 2012, 13:36   #11
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Offroading alone without a back up vehicle or telling someone where you are going

Never go offroading alone or without telling someone where you are going.

If you have a break down or an injury and don't have a back up or people don't know where you are, it will be impossible for them to trace you.


Not knowing when to get off the gas and leading to burning of the clutch

Know the limits. Accept that you are stuck. There is no point in revving and digging yourself in. This will only lead to you digging in more and burning your clutch.

Driving on tarmac with 4x4 engaged

Always remember to disengage 4x4 as soon as you hit tarmac. Driving on normal roads in low ratio is a sure way to a transmission windup.


Forgetting to engage the hub locks

Many times we've noticed that people engage 4x4 but forget to engage the hub locks. Sometimes, the hub locks are not serviced and don't engage their. Always do a pre offroad inspection and keep parts in top condition.


Wrong gearing

Know your gearing. There are numerous threads in this forum about offroad driving techniques. Select the right gear for the right obstacle.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-of...echniques.html



Wrong tyre pressure

Many times while offroading you many need to air down the tyres.

Airing down a tyre will lead to a wider footprint which is good for traction and in slush because it distributes the weight.

Also airing down of the tyre leads to the tyre folding over a rock rather than going over it and thus reduces chances of a puncture.

Do remember not to lower pressure so much that the tyre comes off the rim. In such cases, a bead lock is extremely helpful.

Carry a portable air compressor to fill up before you hit the road though.

It's also a good idea to carry a puncture repair it and a tyre pressure gauge.

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Not securing loose objects in the vehicle

We carry a lot of things when we offroad. However, do we secure them? Imagine doing a decline and a piece of tool hits you in the head from behind? Or even worse, during a roll over, there are tolls flying all over? It will act as shrapnel. Always secure safely as much as you can. Use cargo nets, bungee cords, tie downs, ropes, etc

Look at the pic posted by Samurai and see everything spill over.


Not checking water depth before entering

Another cardinal mistake. You may have a snorkel, breathers, etc but your vehicle can only wade through a certain depth. There are electricals that you must also worry about. Always carry a stick with which you can wade and check the depth of the water. The stick also helps in detecting sink holes that you could inadvertently walk into.


Spectators in kill zone during recovery

As mentioned previously, a snapped winch cable is a deadly projectile. Even though you have used a winch blanket, all spectators must be outside the kill zone of the winch cable at all times.


Wearing improper footwear while driving

Again have noticed many times that people wear slippers while offroading. Not only will you slip, get pierced through the slippers by sharp stones, your foot can also slip from the accelerator, brake or clutch. Always were shoes which are meant for trekking and have a nice grip and groove pattern.


Don't keep your hands outside the vehicle

I used to do this, one hand used to clutch the top part of the door frame while negotiating an obstacle. Arka once screamed his lungs out at me saying that if the vehicle tipped, i would crush my fingers.

Even rally school students are taught to always keep the windows closed so by mistake you do not put your hand out.


Not knowing basic DIY

You might carry all possible tools and spares, but if you don't know basic DIY, all this preparation will be in vain.

Go to your mechanic and learn basic DIY if you don't know it already.

Here's a good thread on DIY:
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-te...solutions.html (Offroad-Onroad failures & DIY solutions)

Last edited by Tejas@perioimpl : 7th August 2012 at 13:44.
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Old 7th August 2012, 13:38   #12
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Tejas,

Please add:

1. Entering water without first gauging the depth.
2. Not putting the rear top up (severely affects visibility in Jeeps & Gypsies). Better to even take the doors off, if possible.
3. Not checking condition of spare (and whether it's inflated) before off-roading.
4. Holding steering wheel with hands wrapped around them tight. Can break your thumb on a sharp obstacle.
5. Standing too close to the tow rope when a vehicle is being pulled out. If it snaps, there goes your head.

Most of all, not understanding the vehicle, terrain, your limits and your ride's limits.
Wonderful point no 2. Yes, i've noticed in my old classic that it was a pain if the rear flap came down and my visibility was severely affected. Also check the condition of the buttons and velcro.


Others, please chip in stuff that i may have missed.
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Old 7th August 2012, 19:48   #13
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Great thread Tejas. Its good see all info under one roof.

Well, this might not be a 4WD mistake, but with all this hype in the off-roading scene these days, some impressed bystanders, tend to try out some similar obstacles with their 2WD. When it might seem harmless for the untrained eye, this is a strict NO-NO.

Never venture into a 4x4 terrain with a 2WD. Let alone the vehicle getting stuck, its also outright dangerous.


Also, Tejas can you please shed some light on the mistakes while recovery?

Like(?)
  • Recovery vehicle too fast.
  • Incorrect towing point.
  • Lack of attention by recovery vehicle driver.
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Old 8th August 2012, 07:32   #14
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A most excellent effort, this thread.
Thank you for starting it.

Perhaps if some kind soul can begin a similar one for highway driving as well?
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Old 8th August 2012, 08:00   #15
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Default re: Mistakes while offroading: List them and Learn from them

Confucius says:

If you feel jeep feel like topple, no stick leg out to stop. Jeep heavy than you.

When you worry what lies ahead, get fat butt out of jeep and walk

Man with 8/10 and 12/14 spanner better prepared than man with rusted hi lift jack and empty jerrycan
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