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Expedition Off Road Driving Tips - Page 1

The offroad driving tips on this page are intended to cater for a wide variety of expedition situations. Some are most appropriate to short day trips on green lanes or offroad driving centres in the UK, whilst others may be applicable to seriously challenging remote locations such as may be encountered in outback Australia. Offroad, there is no substitute for good judgement. Adopt the information here according to your own particualr circumstances.

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Give some thought as to what you may expect to encounter ahead. Consider how the weather may have affected your intended route. Should you change your planned route or carry appropriate gear to cope with it? Rain. snow, ice, drought all have possible implications for your expedition. Problems are often encountered but some can be anticipated and their effects reduced.

Walk it first
If you can't see the ground your tyres are in contact with then the unexpected can happen. Water crossings can have deep potholes - even if they have a concrete base. Long grass can have ruts, holes and hidden objects. It's a compromise thing - on a long trip it may not be practical to walk all the hazards so BE AWARE take it SLOW. Stretch your legs rather than your luck.

Side slips
Traversing a slippery slope or riding the crown on a dirt road can lead to your vehicle slipping down sideways. Turn the vehicle in the direction that the rear end is moving then apply gentle throttle to gain control and steer back up the slope.

Corrugated roads
Often encountered in hot dry regions used by heavy vehicles. Drive just fast enough to iron out most of the jolting. Driving fast to give a smooth ride is dangerous as tyres are only fleetingly in contact with the peaks of the ridges. You can reach a situation akin to aqua-planing on water. Distance between corrugations is dictated by soil composition and vehicle useage. There are 'comforts zones' generally aound 40km/h, 60km/h and 80km/h. Don't drive faster.

Rock climbing
Look well ahead and plan a route to keep the vehicle on as even a keel as possible. Keep a slow steady pace and try not to stall or stop.

Steep Descents
Select the lowest gear possible and let the engine brake for you. Manual diesel engines brake better than petrol or automatics. If you have 'hill descent control' use it. If you really need to apply wheel braking (e.g very long very steep decline) then do it GENTLY, otherwise the wheels will lock up and the rear end slide around. VERY DANGEROUS.

Steep Ascents
Select a gear that will get you to the top at a steady pace. Ease off as you negotiate any obstacles enroute but don't stall. Charging at a hill can cause loss of traction, disturbance to vehicle contents and possible vehicle damage.

Water crossings
Avoid driving through water deeper than the centre of your wheels. Deeper than this requires special preparation - more details on this in the tech driving section of ukoffroad.com.

Sand driving
For soft sand you can drop tyre pressures down to 120kPa to give a larger footprint and thereby spread the vehicle load. BUT you need to pump them soon afterwards to avoid tyre wall damage. Speed should be kept low to reduce heat being generated in the tyres.

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