Edd Cobley’s Beginners Guide to Off-RoadingWednesday 16th June 2021
Off-road rally ace Edd Cobley returns to racing this year in his custom-built Land Rover Defender 110 doublecab – Skippy 2.0 – featuring Davanti’s Terratoura A/T tyres.
Here the seasoned 4×4 instructor and champion driver gives his top tips to get started in off-road 4×4 driving, from off-road centre days to greenlaning:
Know Your Vehicle
Really getting to understand your vehicle is vital. On every 4×4 there are parts of the underside that are more vulnerable to damage. You need to know where the differential, fuel tank and gearbox are – and what the clearance of the lowest point of your chassis is. That way you can identify obstacles that may damage those parts and avoid them! No-one wants to find themselves stranded due to a damaged undercarriage.
Know Your Numbers
There are some key numbers you need to know when off-roading. Your vehicle height and width, the ground clearance at its lowest point and important angles, for example its maximum climb and tilt angles. You don’t want to start sliding backwards or rolling your 4×4 over.
You also need to know the wading depth. Fording rivers looks like fun, but not every 4×4 is fitted with a snorkel and water can still cause damage to mechanical parts and electrics. Know your numbers and don’t exceed them!
Know your controls
We all just want to get out there and get stuck in but a little preparation can prevent catastrophe. You need to know how and when to engage and disengage 4wd and 2wd modes to prevent damage to your vehicle. You need to know when to use high range and low range 4wd so you are getting the right amount of traction.
You also need to understand driving control, when to back off the gas and allow the engine to do the work to get you up a hill or through a gully, if you start to slide how to regain traction.
4wd vehicles are marvellous. If you understand what it can do, and how to engage it, you will see it do things you thought were impossible.
Fit the right kit
There’s loads of mods and aftermarket parts you can fit to pickups, 4x4s, land rovers etc. It all looks cool but you have to make sure you have the right parts for the job. Tyres are a perfect example. Some people getting into off-roading for the first time may immediately switch their all-terrains for mud terrain tyres. For extreme off-roading this is fine, but if your vehicle is not used 80% of the time off-road you are breaking the law – and making your drive much more uncomfortable.
Other beginners may try to go off-road in 4x4s fitted with standard road tyres – sometimes called cross-terrain. They are not, they are road tyres and once it gets a bit sticky you’ll get stuck!
For most off-road driving, all-terrain tyres like Terratoura A/T are more than adequate. That advice goes for any mod that adds weight or affects performance. Don’t go straight to 11. Make sure what you fit is what you really need.
Yes everyone has a sat-nav now, you may even have got a fancy GPS system. But plan your route carefully if you’re going off-road and plot it on a map, at least as a backup. You need to know what the terrain is like, the angles of the terrain, where there may be rivers, lakes, bogs or rocky outcrops and where there may be sheer drops to stay clear of.
Importantly you need to know where you are permitted to drive and where you are not. Always obey the Countryside Code and make sure you check the weather. Even after all that, pay attention to your surroundings. Make a note of features on the route which may not have shown up in planning, such as obstructions like boulders, and beware rapid weather changes like sudden fog. Make sure you have supplies, like a flask of hot drink, in case you have to wait for the visibility to improve.
Make sure you have the right tyre pressure for the load you’re carrying and the terrain, ensure all your engine fluids – oil, brake fluid, water, coolant – are topped up. Finally go with a group wherever possible, keep your phone charged and make sure your family or friends know your planned route in case you do break down. However much you plan, off-roading can always throw something unexpected your way!
Looking for an all-terrain tyre for your next adventure? Davanti’s Terratoura A/T range is now available in 15”-21” fitments with white lettering options – discover more.