Off-roading is a thrilling, stress-relieving activity, whether it is something you do with buddies or your family. Still, safety should remain your first and foremost priority before any adventure. Disregarding pre-trip preparations and post-trip inspections could lead to injuries for you and damage to your car.
Thorough checks keep your vehicle in tiptop condition for a longer period, regardless if you are driving a brand new truck or a secondhand four-wheel-drive SUV. A reliable vehicle not only takes you through the toughest tracks. It also gets you home safe and scratch-free.
What to Do Before an Off-roading Trip
Your off-road adventure should begin with this basic checklist to make sure you are both safe and comfortable on your journey.
1. Do a full maintenance check on your vehicle.
If you have made a habit of checking on your vehicle before and after every trip, this will not be too taxing a task. It is a good practice still to run full maintenance to verify that every part of your car or truck is in the proper condition for off-roading.
Check your tires and see if all are inflated for the terrain they will be braving. Make sure your spares are in good condition, too. See if the fluids in your vehicle, including oil, brake fluid, steering fluid, radiator fluid, coolant, and washer fluid, are filled to the optimum levels and that there are no leaks.
2. Familiarize yourself with the trail you are taking.
Do not drive off blindly. Gather information beforehand about the places you are going to. Speak with your off-roading buddies to see if they know something about the place or have even been there on previous trips.
Also, go online and watch videos and read articles about the trail you are traversing. These show you which parts may pose a challenge for your vehicle so that you can anticipate anything you need to fix or bring beforehand.
This is a good time to double-check your GPS navigation. Check the trail on your navigator and map out your route ahead with your companions.
3. Bring complete safety tools and gear with you.
Off-roading pushes your jeep’s limits, so you must be prepared to make emergency repairs in case you run into roadblocks during the trip. Bring your maintenance and specialty tools, tow straps, and other gear. Also, have extra fuel with you to keep your vehicle running even when you are in the middle of nowhere.
A first-aid kit is also a necessity. Include any personal medication, too. Water is also a must as you may not have ready access to it on the trail.
What to Check After an Off-roading Trip
When you have safely come home after your off-road adventure, do these post-trip safety checks to be travel-ready for the next one.
1. Clean your vehicle thoroughly.
Your vehicle will get its fair share of mud and grime after going off-roading. Wash your car or truck to prevent dirt buildup and keep it from carrying and dispersing weed seeds. The introduction of weed seeds disturbs plant growth in farms, gardens, and other areas, so you don’t want to contribute to that.
Cleaning your vehicle also presents a good opportunity to check for damages that it could have sustained. You can also see if there are any leaks as you wash the car, including your engine.
2. Check on your tires and brakes.
When you drive while your tires do not have the right amount of air, you risk damage to your tires and rims. Pump air into them after the trip, so you will not be running on bad tires on the next trail or even on paved roads.
See if your brakes are functioning properly, too. Especially if your trip required you to go deep into water, sand, or mud, the residue could get in the way of your brake response. Poor brake power is a major safety concern, so inspect these and have things repaired if needed.
3. Restock items and tools for your next trip.
Your next trip needs proper tools and safety items to be a safe undertaking. Replace broken car tools and stock up on fuel and first-aid equipment. Take note of the weather conditions and put sunglasses, insect repellents, or raincoats in your vehicle if you need it for the next adventure.
Remember that fun and excitement come secondary to safety when preparing for an off-road trip. Think of both as intimately related: the safety of everyone in your party enables you to fully enjoy whatever adventure you are off to next.