6 Things You Need To Know If You’re Going On An Epic Off-Road Trip
Off-road driving can seem daunting, but when done safely, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of conquering a technical and slightly scary obstacle. Of course, you don’t want to get stuck, slip down hills or do anything that may damage the vehicle (or its occupants), so here are some simple steps to follow so you can head for the hills with excitement and confidence.
Know your dirt
Off-roading doesn’t just involve a few gravel roads here and there. It can mean mud, rock, sand or water… And sometimes all four at once. Make sure you understand what is required of you and your vehicle for each of these terrains. It will be the difference between a fun day out and a day spent trying to rescue your vehicle.
Walk the walk
Before attempting any obstacle, get out of your vehicle and walk the entire route. If you’re on an unknown road, you need to know what’s coming up ahead beyond that hill or those rocks. Remember, if you’re unable to navigate the terrain, it’s unlikely that your vehicle will be able to either. Walking the route will allow you to get a good idea of where to place your tyres and all the differentials so you can make a plan of approach. In other words, always be prepared!
Take it slow
Speed is not your friend when off-roading. In fact, the slower the better, and when it comes to being off the beaten track, it’s best to remember, “as slow as possible, as fast as necessary.” So, if you’re descending a hill, do it as slowly as possible, and if you’re ascending a hill, you may need a little bit of speed for momentum. But going through an obstacle too quickly is a sure way to damage your vehicle.
Straight as an arrow
Rolling your vehicle on steep terrain is something you need to be aware of and do everything to avoid. Don’t drive diagonally down a hill, always keep your vehicle as straight as possible. And if you feel like the car is starting to slide sideways, slow down immediately.
Ease that grip
Most new off-roaders are so nervous that they grip the steering wheel like a vice, which can be dangerous for a few reasons. If your thumbs are folded around the inside of the steering wheel and one of your tyres hits something, the wheel may turn sharply, causing you to break, dislocate or strain your thumbs. Therefore, always keep them up along the face of the steering wheel. Also, never ever turn the wheel while gripping it from the inside. Another reason to loosen your grip is to allow the wheels to work with the vehicle. Best practice is to keep both your hands on opposite sides of the steering wheel in a firm yet gentle grip.
Know your limits
As much as off-roading can be relatively easy when you know how, it can also be quite tricky. It’s good to know your limits so that you don’t end up damaging your car or, even worse, injuring yourself and others. You also don’t want to spend a night out in the rough because your car is stuck in a ditch. Know your limits on different terrain – sand is very different to rock which is very different to mud. Take it slow no matter what. But most importantly, enjoy yourself! And always buddy-up, like any extreme sport, never go it alone.
Looking for the perfect family off-roader?
Look no further than the Toyota Fortuner Epic. Not only is it South Africa’s top-selling SUV, it’s also built on the more-than-capable Hilux bakkie, so you know it’s going to be able to take you anywhere. You can choose between two variants of the Epic, both based on the 2.8-litre GD-6 derivatives: the “standard” Fortuner Epic and Fortuner Epic Black (which features more black styling cues). Inside you have leather seats (no need to worry if the road gets bumpy while your kids are sipping their juices, you can just wipe it off) and a soft-touch dashboard trim. If you need it to be a practical seven-seater, never fear because the layout remains as per the current model with an elevated second row and a fold-up third row of seats. All Fortuner models are equipped with ABS, TRC, VSC, BAS, EBD and hill start assist (HAC). The four-wheel drive models additionally feature Toyota’s A-TRAC off-road traction control logic and downhill assist control (DAC), to make navigating obstacles a breeze. “On-the- fly” selectable 2WD/4WD/4WD Lo modes further add to overlanding convenience. The standard safety features are endless and for peace of mind, especially if you’re going to be driving this across mountains, the Epic comes standard with a nine services/90 000km service plan and three-year/100 000km warranty.
Want to stand a chance of winning a Toyota Fortuner?
Become a challenger to represent Media24 in this year’s epic Fortuner Challenge 2020. Visit toyota.m24lifestyle.co.za to enter.