Going off-road in your 4×4 can be an exciting experience only if you prepare yourself and your vehicle for the trip and take safety precautions before you go. Always presume there may not be help close to hand if you have an accident, and you can ensure that whatever happens you’ll be able to deal with it safety and quickly.
There are several safety procedures you should check before you go for an off-road trip:
1. Know your vehicle well. Make sure you are used to driving it before you go off-road. Ask yourself whether you know its limits and how not to exceed them. Also, check these before you go:
· Spare tyre and jack, make sure you know how to use them.
· The height, width, length, approach and departure angles and ramp angle in your Land Rover so that you know which spots you can go through and which you can’t. Also, make sure you know where the lowest point of clearance is and how much clearance you have.
· See if your vehicle has got an electronic stability control system. Do you know when, why and how to use it?
· Make sure you know how to use the low ratio gearbox.
· In order to know the maximal depth of water you can cross, find out where the vehicle engine’s air intake and computer are.
2. Keep you 4×4 regularly maintained. Make sure the tyres are in good condition and inflated, the belts intact, the fluids topped up and that the brakes and steering work correctly.
3. Prepare you trip carefully. Do some research on the place you’re going. Plan how much time it will take to go there and be back, and how long you’ll stay. Remember that a trip that looks short on the map, might be much longer in reality. Take maps and a compass with you.
4. Pack emergency gear, including energy bars, water, first aid kit, extra clothing and blankets, and a torch. Ensure you bring a phone in a waterproof container/pouch.
5. Take some company and, if possible, have an extra vehicle behind you. Make sure the other vehicle has good recovery points. If it doesn’t – be very careful. Using chains, shackles and other similar equipment might be very dangerous if breaks as it can go through cars and people and cause real danger.
6. Make sure someone knows where you are going and how to contact you in case of emergency. Also, take their numbers. It’s also a good idea to know the local police telephone number, as well as your insurance company.
7. Do not over-pack. It’s important to take some gear but make sure you balance the weight evenly. Remember the vehicle will be tipping so make sure all equipment is well secured and will not fly around the interior.
8. Don’t wait until going off-road with getting to know how to turn the four wheel drive, as it might be a little too late for that. The other thing is to have some knowledge about 4×4 drive troubleshooting and off-road recovery tips.
9. And the last but not least: make sure your insurance covers going off-road. Some companies only cover going on formed road and this can be hard to find out afterwards.