4WD Driving is an incredible genre of automobile racing or driving that involves taking a four-wheel drive car into rough terrains and pushing it to the limit. Going over rocks and boulders, through riverbeds or even through muddy waters and small ponds, the idea of heading out into the wilderness and spending time as one with nature, in your car, might sound quite weird to many. After all, as many people would wonder, why would you take a car into that kind of terrain when, in fact, cars and roads were built to allow us to travel around it in the first place!
That is something that cannot be answered in words because the idea of working on your car and preparing it to take on any kind of terrain, and then heading out there for some boulder-dashes or rock-bashing is a thrill that needs to be experienced first-hand. However, before you can just buy yourself a four-wheel drive car and head into the wild, you need to learn a lot about 4WD driving and the various aspects of driving on rough terrain.
Understanding the 4WD
The first thing you need to know about is your car and how it will adapt to four-wheel driving conditions. Your car might come with a four-wheel drive system or an interchangeable two-/four-wheel drive system. Either way, you are going to have two ranges on the gear box - a low range and a high range. The high range is similar to what you have in regular cars while the low range is something that allows you to rev your engine lesser to send more torque to your wheels.
That is similar to the bicycle gears that make it harder to pedal. They are meant for uphill climb because for a lesser turn of the pedal; you get more turn of the wheels and on the easier gears to pedal on, you can pedal faster but the wheels won't rotate as much. Then there's the bit about the differential, the aspect that most people cannot understand but an aspect that is vital to learn if you want to master 4WD driving.
Differentials are a box of mechanical things under your car that allow you to transfer power evenly to the wheels. They are extremely useful in rough terrain because your wheels may not have the same kind of traction all across. That is because the amount of contact each tyre has with the surface may not be the same and you might even have rocks on one side and mud on the other. As a result, the kind of grip you get on each wheel might not be the same, which is when wheels start spinning. Differentials help you control that power-quotient with different settings.
Safe 4WD Driving
Once you've understood how your car works and gone through the basic checkpoints to ensure that everything is working fine, you are ready to head outdoors but you should never go out there alone. The deal with rough terrain and 4WD cars is that you are sitting high up on your seat and you are unlikely to be able to see what is directly under your car. While modern cars do come with cameras fitted all over the place, you will still need someone who can guide you through the entire process.
Every now and then, in delicate situations, you will need someone to get out and guide you through the path until you get onto relatively easier terrain. Your spotter is an important part of the 4WD driving experience and without a good spotter, you might end up getting stuck. It's even better if you head out with another car or with a group of cars because getting out of tight spots becomes easier as you can easily use the winch to pull someone out.
4WD driving isn't without its incidents and no matter how much money you spend on your tyres, you might still get punctures. Broken suspensions and axles are also quite common when you drive carelessly and even for the most careful driver, some accidents might just be unavoidable. Carry a full toolkit with you, in the car, and also carry a first-aid kit for emergencies. You might be heading out to a spot where there is little or no mobile-phone coverage so that is another aspect you need to take care of.
Grab a map of the terrain, get yourself a good GPS and if possible, inform someone about where you plan to be and when you plan to get back. If you are involved in some kind of a mishap, someone should notice that you are gone and they should be able to realise if you are not back when you should be. If need be, they will have to call for help on your behalf so make sure you are always leaving a back-up plan for your off-road trips, as a safety plan.
4WD driving is a fantastic experience that helps you push your limits as well as that of your car. If you are someone who works on and builds your own cars for the rough side of life, then you will enjoy it even more. As you watch your hard work unfold in front of your eyes, every single hurdle or obstacle will thrill you to bits! Just learn about basic repairs on your vehicle, go out with a friend and be as careful as possible to enjoy your 4WD driving experience even more.