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Old 4th March 2008, 11:43   #1
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Default A few useful tips on Safe Off-Roading

A few things learnt during my offroading experiences. Thought I'd share them here.

Respecting the Environment

Offroading as a sport has the tendency to damage the environment if engaged in without diligence. It is important people respect the natural terrain and try not to scar it to an extent it would entail permanent damage.

Desert landscapes are a lot safer as the winds that follow erase your tracks in time.

A lot of people, I have noticed, have the tendency to leave behind the garbage they create. Please carry your garbage out of the wilderness and dispose appropriately. Plastics, as you may know, don't disintegrate in a 100 years and pose a threat to wild animals.

Offroading can be a huge disturbance to wildlife in the area. Please engage in the sport in a manner that causes the least bit of disturbance. Sound and exhaust pollution are concerns

Disused quarries are the best bet for extreme offroading. Chances are there is no wildlife around and the earth has already been completely ravaged. Your antics won't add to the damage already done.

All forest cover is under government protection and as citizens we don't have an open right to access. We need to apply to the local forest officer for permission and only then can we proceed into a forest.

Safety first

Needless to say this is, without any doubt, the single most critical element all off roading enthusiasts must focus on first.

If you are venturing into unknown terrain please make sure of the following:

1. Carry a compass or better still a GPS so you can find your way out

2. Ideally always go into unknown territory with atleast one other SUV, to assist, should your car get stuck or fail

3. Never venture out alone

4. Carry first aid

5. Carry plenty of drinking water and snacks/energy bars etc

6. Always carry a tow rope with appropriate hooks

7. A winch helps where other cars can't pull you out. The winch wire should be of sufficient length so as to enable you to tie to a tree at a distance

6. Ensure you are out with a full tank of fuel

7. Communication devices such as cell phone, 2 way radios, satellite cell would be useful

8. Know your car inside out. Just this can mean staying out of trouble that may eiher damage your car or harm you and occupants. Know the permissible angles of incline your vehicle can handle. I've known many a careless offroader to roll and damage his SUV, not to mention the shock and trauma to persons

9. Know your abilities. Being adventurous in this sport without practice and high skill level developed invariably causes nasty accidents. Practice a lot and tackle difficult obstacles only with growing experiences. Please don't take chances. Expert offroading is about calculated moves, not daredevil attempts.

10. Never take chances when you are faced with an unknown. facing a road disappearing over a sharp hill that requires you to build a sharp run for momentum to get over it? Get down, walk up to the top of the hill, study whats on the other side, the road may make a sharp turn, there may be trees or boulders not visible, and worse, sometimes you may have a picnic of people on the other side!!!

Choosing the right vehicle

When evaluating SUV's choose engines that develop peak torque as low down in the rev band as possible, at say 1500 rpm. Consider the weight of the vehicle too as the engine has to work harder on a heavier SUV

Generally speaking large displacement engines are able to develop torque very low down in the rev bands. As the Americans are fond of saying "There's no replacement for displacement" Big bore engines rule. V config engines also develop torque better. This is not to say inlines can't do the job. The SUV I used had an inline six and it never fell short on torque.

Low centre of gravity. This affects your vehicle's ability to handle inclines. Usually a good SUV manufacturer will quote the angles the vehicle can handle.

Tyres. Wide track tyres with offroad pattern (lugs). No amount of writeups can do justice to how significantly tyres impact your experience. The key word here is FOOTPRINT and TRACTION. For soft sand deflate tyres to 15 psi as this gives you an even wider footprint. Basically you want all that engine torque to grip the soil and move forward. Lesser the contact patch more the chances of tyres spinning and digging in. Also a high aspect ratio help as you don't want the rims to get damaged and plus it gives the tyre the pliability to grip rocks better. The max size of the tyre useable on your SUV gets dictated by the ability to torque through the increased grip. Also it impacts steering and loads your power unit.

Short wheelbase and overhangs. A short wheelbase eg less than 2500mm helps as you don't risk bottoming out on ridges. Short overhangs allow you a sharper angle of attack and exit. I've seen many SUV's have their front and rear bumpers knocked out in a few minutes of offroading on dunes.

Gearboxes with close raios and diff spec for torque application. The key in smooth offroading is building momentum. Nothing helps more than a gear box that allows you to maintain the momentum as you change up. Lose momentum between gears and risk getting stuck

Technique

Great off roading at best is 50% vehicle ability and 50% driver skill. There are no set rules but only one. Practice, practice, and practice. Considering every SUV is unique you have to develop a driving style that suits your car and the terrain. What applies in sand won't apply in slush or snow or hard soil. Only experience will teach you the myriad nuances of this magnificent sport.

In slush and sand one tip is to weave through as you drive. What this means is you contantly oscillate the steering to avoid buildup of the soft soil ahead of your tyre, that eventually serves as a brake and bogs you down.

Always be gentle as you apply the throttle while starting off on say a beach. High torque setup makes your wheels spin cutting into the sand in no time. The key is to move out gently and build and maintain momentum. Often we started in 2nd gear when the gearbox was in the low mode.

When you get stuck, STOP. Don't sit there trying to frantically rev yourself out. Chances are you'll dig yourself in and bottom out(where the underside of the SUV rests on the ground and your wheels spin freely. Step out and evaluate the situation. The first option is to try and move back out the way you came. You may need to rebuild momentum to tackle the patch. It helps to get all other occupants out when you are trying to get the vehicle unstuck, lower weight helps.

At times you'd have to rock the car using first and reverse so as to make room for the tyres. Oscillate the steering as you do that. If you have shrubs or small stones around place them ahead and behind the wheel to give it some grip.

Always watch if you car is moving while you attempt to throttle up. If its moving maintain the throttle and gently increase the momentum while increasing throttle. If you notice the car slowing down with increased throttle chances are the wheels are digging in, so ease off.

In situations where one or two of the wheels are spinning freely you need to increase traction under those wheels by placing stones, shrubs (anything)

If your SUV has diff locks this is where you use it.

Am sure I've missed something. Will add on as it comes to my mind.

Disclaimer: The author is neither an expert offroader nor does he have the knowledge to state the above is a comprehensive guide. These are just some of the points followed by him and they helped in making his experiences safe and deeply enjoyable. Many of these tips were gleaned practicing in the company of expert offroaders on whose lifelong experiences I drew as they shared generously.

Offroading is an extreme sport and can prove to be harmful to your vehicle and people if engaged in without due diligence and skill.

I would urge enthusiasts to read up extensively before they venture out and ideally tie up with experienced folk if you are a novice. It helps.

Last edited by DKG : 4th March 2008 at 11:50.
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Old 4th March 2008, 11:58   #2
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Just remembered, a good set of spades is invaluable. Whenever you get stuck it helps to clear soil ahead and behind the wheels to allow the vehicle space to move and build momentum to pull out.
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Old 4th March 2008, 14:25   #3
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Fantastic stuff DKG, you have been reeling off threads after threads of high quality information. I am sure budding off-roaders in the forum would find this info very valuable.
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Old 4th March 2008, 14:36   #4
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DKG,
Good write up....may i know what are you doing with a 2wd 207DI? You deserve a 4x4 man!!! Surprised to see you choosing a 2wd pick up with such passion for off road. By the way i have seen your 207DI in hyderabad, my first impression was nice truck....wish it had 4wd!
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Old 4th March 2008, 14:42   #5
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Great start. This was the kind of feed back/advice I was looking for from the guys who participated in some of the off-roading events. I am sure this knowledge will be of great help to people when they are stuck on beaches or other places. The way our roads become after the rains, probably eveyone on Team-BHP will need such advice to drive around the city
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Old 4th March 2008, 14:50   #6
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@DKG

very informative write up and its a nice starting point for all of us who are not off roaders.

though if you or someone else can go into more details that will be nicer.

great effort
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Old 4th March 2008, 14:54   #7
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Brilliant write up. How many off-roading it takes to put something like this?

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 4th March 2008 at 15:06.
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Old 4th March 2008, 15:04   #8
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Way to go. Written by a person who knows his wheels and his terrain.
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Old 4th March 2008, 15:33   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKG View Post
Disused quarries are the best bet for extreme offroading. Chances are there is no wildlife around and the earth has already been completely ravaged. Your antics won't add to the damage already done.
Funny you mention quarry. That's where I experienced my very first off-roading training, an abandoned granite quarry.

Spot the jeeps?


Report: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-of...am-quarry.html
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Old 4th March 2008, 20:24   #10
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Superb writeup !! All ready to become another official TBHP "HOWTO" thread.

Also, nice to know u have other interests other than restoring vintage cars. Where do u get the time for all this !!
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Old 4th March 2008, 21:56   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinod_nookala View Post
DKG,
Good write up....may i know what are you doing with a 2wd 207DI? You deserve a 4x4 man!!! Surprised to see you choosing a 2wd pick up with such passion for off road. By the way i have seen your 207DI in hyderabad, my first impression was nice truck....wish it had 4wd!
I know I know!! The 207 is a compromise I made as I am also halfway through constructing a removeable truck camper. Plus its useful to lug stuff around while restoring cars, and I have a small farmhouse just outside Hyderabad so figured it'll be handy to shift pots and gardening material, you know a workhorse in the house.

I wanted to buy the gurkha and managed to even speak to a gentleman incharge of special vehicles, but they simply weren't willing to commit on when they'd release in India. Even during the recent auto expo I walked up to a guy who turned out to be Prasan Firodia, but the guy seemed totally clueless about when the CRDi version would be launched and didn't seem excited enough to promote the gurkha

I could've bought an older nissan or Pajero two door but the fear of expensive parts in the event of damage etc put me off. Besides I want something that can be repaired in any village in India if required.

My dream is to start a 4x4 Jamboree here in Hyderabad where enthusiasts have fun driving out in convoys and having loads of fun on weekends. I've also toyed with the idea of convincing some friends to start an offroad camp, where you take a farm and create all kinds of obstacles. Friends and family could gather with their off roaders and have a whale of a time cheering on as you take on different obstacles. It can be a pay and play facility with food courts and free car wash at the end. Should be awesome fun.

Lots of ideas, the passion and the will to do so much is there...lets see.
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Old 4th March 2008, 22:00   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spadival View Post
nice to know u have other interests other than restoring vintage cars. Where do u get the time for all this !!
Between vintage cars, superbikes and my truck camper project you can imagine what a one and a half day weekend gets crammed up with, not to forget some socialising!

By Sunday evening I'm completely washed out. Wish I had more free time
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Old 4th March 2008, 22:09   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Funny you mention quarry. That's where I experienced my very first off-roading training, an abandoned granite quarry.

Spot the jeeps?
Wow, that's quite a site. Can just imagine the fun you had.

Hope all of us can pitch into building this thread into a comprehensive guide

I notice with the local manufacturers its a bit like the chicken or the egg situation. They feel there's no market, but without a decent offereing when will the market ever develop?

I was quite pleased to see the Xenon though and hope it gets launched soon
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Old 4th March 2008, 22:18   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Brilliant write up. How many off-roading it takes to put something like this?
I always made an effort to join up with the diehard enthusiasts in Dubai where I once lived. We often went into the desert in Wranglers, Cherokees, Grand Cherokees, Landcruisers and the Nissan Patrols.

Often we had the local villagers for company and I learnt a lot from them in terms of caring for their environment (as they lived in villages in the desert)

I loved camping out in the desert or remote beaches. Having picked up full camping gear I used to treat friends and family to picnics in my landcruiser. Have loads of wonderful memories.

Hope all of you with 4x4 machines involve friends and family into this sport. It simply is a riot
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Old 5th March 2008, 15:13   #15
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DKG,

I understand 207DI fits your requirement perfectly, but no 4wd is a big price to pay!! If a single cab was required u could have picked up Bolero flat bed with power steering and 4wd. I know what the dealer would say" you get 4wd only in maxx pik up with no P/S" but you could have tried. Another option would have been Tempo Trax Cargo. At least on the site they mention that they offer single cabs with 4wd and power steering on demand.

In fact even i was drolling upon Gurkha Di turbo, but i didnt hear anything fromthem later...thought they werent interested in selling me the vehicle.I picked up a MM540 4wd open top. With little discomfort of having no power steering you could have tried Bolero camper 4wd. It is enjoyable to drive but may be u would have had space issues with rear deck being small.

If you have thrist for 4wd its not late, pick up a old jeep and put it to 4wdriving!! Use it as a pickup, off roader, transport people & do it what ever.

DKG,

All the best for your first of its kind off-road amusement park!!! I have similar ideas...tooo!!!

Last edited by Technocrat : 5th March 2008 at 15:33. Reason: Please use edit instead of making Back to back posts
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