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Tips From the Lousiana 4x4 Club
General Off Road Driving Tips

  1. Use Low Range - 4 wheel drive and 1st gear
  2. Start the vehicle in gear without the clutch, pressing the gas a little as needed.
  3. Always use compression braking going down hill. Idle over obstacles. It might be necessary to use the gas somewhat going up hill. Keep the foot off the clutch at all times. Start and stop with the key.
  4. Drive slowly. Crawl over obstacles without using the clutch. If you start to slip or spin, give a little gas. Keep the vehicle moving.
  5. If you have an automatic transmission, use your lowest driving gear and low range. Use the left foot on the brake and the right on the gas, applying gas only as needed.
  6. Don't straddle large rocks or stumps. Put your tire on the rock or stump and crawl over them slowly. Use the gas only as needed.
  7. Maintain adequate speed to get the job done. Going faster than necessary will only tear up your vehicle.
  8. Keep moving once you are committed as smooth handling and proper momentum are the key to off road driving.

If you want a beginners book on off-road driving, try Mark Smiths "Guide to Safe, Common Sense Off-Road Driving", Mark Smith Off-Roading Inc., PO Box 1601, Georgetown, CA 95634
or 4-Wheel Freedom : The Art Of Off-Road Driving by Brad De Long

Tire air pressure:
Use the inflation specified by the sticker on the door jam or the owners manual, not the maximum indicated on the tire.
A larger tire can have lower pressures, for example the Jeep Wrangler owners manual recommends 33 psi for P205 - P225/75R15 (27-29" tires) and 29 psi for 30x9.5 R15 LTs a 30" tire.

Larger Tires:
Most people run from between 28-32 psi on the road with 33x12.5s.
Higher pressure gives better gas mileage but a harsher ride.
At Tire air pressure street - jeepforum.comthey say:
One way is to do a "chalk test". You put a patch of chalk down in front of each tire, drive over it and look at the pattern. Once you have even tread contact, you're done. I run about 26-28PSI in my MT/R's on the street.

If you do the chalk test and let all the tread hit the road,your tires will be under inflated badly.(mine came out to be 16psi)I run 22psi for 35's and 26psi for 33's.Thats what Mickey Thompson Co.told me to run for my tires.

It is recommended in certain situations with slow off-road driving to reduce inflation pressure. This will enlarge and widen the ground contact area and improves traction by increased dovetailing of the pattern with the ground.

  • Sinking and digging in on soft surfaces will be reduced.
  • In addition the tyre becomes more flexible so sharp-edged stones and other obstacles can be passed at lower risk of damage.
  • The increased flexibility also results in improved self-cleaning of the pattern on mud and snow.
  • On sand also lower inflation pressure is recommended as the larger contact patch will improve traction.
Source: 4X4 Driving Tips at Dunlop.
Rough Terain -10%
Sand -25-40%
Mud -30%
Loose ground and very low speed up to -50%
Source: Dunlop

The Wrangler owners manual says you should not go lower than 15 psi.

Larger tires allow you air down to 10 lbs. for slow speed rock crawling (some people will go down to 8 psi.)
Harald Pietschmann (4 Wheel Drive 101) recommends 10 psi in front and 13 psi in the rear with 35" tires.
"Bead Lock" rims allow you to go still lower; as low as 3 psi.


  • Driving on the highway with aired down is dangerous and can lead to tire damage because of overheating and uneven wear.
  • The chance of losing a bead is great below 10 pounds.
  • Clearance will be reduced

SNOW: In snow, specifically snow that is packed and wet, you can air down safely to 8 psi *. This will allow the footprint to expand and allow a great grip into the slippery terrain. With snow being slippery and dense, the tires will conform and help to compact it. This will also help others following behind you as a packed powder will be easier to traverse than one that is loose.

MUD: A lot of people think airing down in mud is a bad thing. Since tall thin tires tend to do best in mud, big sidewall lugs don't always help too much. This is your call but I wouldn't go below 20 psi here.

SAND: Where wide tires and big engines are king, airing down is essential. In sand, wide, low psi tires help paddle you along easily where tall, full pressure tires will dig you in. With enough engine power, the lugs of your tires will leave a wide non-digging pattern that helps you stay afloat of the sand.

ROCK: This is essential. Huge sidelugs aired down can engulf rocks and let your rig move effortlessly over them. One lug can often catch the sides of a rock and pull you to safety. Some people prefer many small lugs here but I prefer fewer larger lugs aired down to 5-8 psi * as they can usually hold you like to other combination and since you are traversing at such slow speeds, your bead should remain intact.

Source: Dennis Baldwin at Rockcrawler
* With many of today's mud-terrain tires the chance of losing a bead is great below 10 pounds.

Winch Alternatives
Type Length * Force
Hi-Lift Jack 3-5' 7,000
Come-along 15-20' 2-4,000
* Length - Distance you can move vehicle in 1 setting.

There are several things out there that aren't winches, but are supposed to do the same job. One is a Hi-Lift jack (HLJ) or similar jack, and another is a come-along ratchet hoist. An HLJ is meant to be able to pull 7000 pounds or so (says the weight rating on the box) and the mechanical advantage is so high that it doesn't feel too scary to use it. If you're using an HLJ as a winch then lay the jack right on the ground with the handle pointing upwards, that way you can put a foot or something on the end of the i-beam to keep it from lifting when you're trying to lever the jack handle.

A come-along is a different animal, indeed. It has a short handle (less than a foot long) and gives you significantly less mechanical advantage. They are usually rated only a few thousand pounds when double-lined (i.e while using a snatch block). They way they creak and groan while you're using them, standing 10 inches away from the thinnest cable ever seen on a winch-like object scares me to death. I don't like them, but they can save you if you have nothing else. Definitely use the coat trick when dealing with these. Due to the short length of them, they don't stay parallel to the line of force very well, so it's very frustrating to use them (they wobble and pitch when you're trying to work the lever). I don't like them, but I must admit that I have one in my pickup truck. Just in case. I keep an HLJ in my 'cruiser, so I don't need one in that. The one benefit of a come-along over an HLJ is that the come-along will pull for 20 feet or so, whereas the HLJ will pull for less than 4' at a time (limited by bar length; could also be 3' or 5' depending on jack model). To use an HLJ as a winch requires blocks, or some other way to keep the truck from losing ground while you're resetting the jack. To be fair, there are some come-along models out there that are pretty tough. If you get one that's rated to 4000 pounds or so, then it should be able to actually pull you out of a bad situation. If you plan to use an HLJ as a winch alternative, then make sure you have hardware on hand to do it; you can't thread a 3" wide tow strap through the little hole in the jack. Get a clevis that fits.
Source: Offroad Driving Frequently Asked Questions
Maasdam Pow'r Pull See Also: Maasdam Pow'r Pull
It states: "Yes, there are come-alongs out there that can pull more weight without double-lining (ie: using a pulley) but they are also much bigger and heavier."
The Maasdam 2-ton model has a 3/16" cable and weighs 9 lbs., the Allied 4-ton model has a 1/4" cable and wieghs 20 lbs.

CB Radios: Emergency Communications from the Rubicon and the Tahoe Area
Personal Radios under Products.

Winter Driving Technique:

  1. For snow don't dig holes, as soon as you start to spin and are not moving don't continue on the gas digging yourself to the frame.
  2. Don't be on / off the gas with a detroit or spool unless you like sliding side to side a lot more than you need too.
  3. Allow yourself 3x as much room to stop in the snow and ice as you would normaly need.
  4. Momentum is key.
  5. Stay to the inside of the hill, and if your tires suck at sidehilling be very afraid of snowy sidehills with cliffs.
  6. Chains - You can get used tractor trailer chains or dump truck chains and cut them down or make them bigger to fit.
  7. Track pack... That means if you plan on parking your rig or stopping anywhere DON'T doit with a first making a few passes forward reverse. Packed snow offers greater support than fresh unpacked snow.
  1. Don't go alone
  2. Always bring enough water to stay the night. You are more likely to get stuck in the snow and not have anyone around compared to tons of people on the trail to help.
  3. Like above you should bring enough food and an extra change of clothes. Several pairs of wool socks. If room permits you should just toss in a tent and sleeping bag.
  4. Extra boots and gloves. They will get wet.
  5. ALWAYS HAVE BLANKETS JUST IN CASE! If you don't have room for the above, toss in some wool or wool/poly blankets.
  6. Dress apropriately. Don't go up to the snow in shorts because you will be in your rig all day... dress in pants and pack snow clothes jsut in case you have to do outside repairs. (Just in case... I MEAN WHEN YOU DO!)
  7. Bring a long tow strap, in fact bring a couple!
  8. A winch is good but don't use it to plow you through snow, properly dig out a little before winching in deep snow. Be careful winching to smaller trees as they can actually get really brittle and break a lot easier than one would think.
  9. Bring a shovel! Not only can you dig out you can make a snow cave or snow screens to block the wind.
  10. Sipe your mud tires.
  11. Take a bag of Solar Salt, with you. Soalr salt can be used to freaze the snow into a more firm surface for either getting out or working under the jeep or just plain walking around in camp. It melts the top layer slightly and the snow freazes it back to form a firm surface.
  12. A sheat of cardboard or a blanket or something to lay on and help prevent loosing bolts and other parts will help you tremendously if you have a break down.
  13. have a way to rebead a tire if it comes off because they do quite often snow wheeling
Winter wheeling from Pirate 4x4
On a day of 3+ feet of fresh snow, 12.5" wide tires were OK, but 14.5" worked better for climbing.

I'm no pro, but I have found that All-Terrains or even street-type truck tires (Wrangler GSAs and the like) typically do better than digging tires (boggers, swampers, claws) on snow runs because of the flotation factor.

ATs and street tires also generally do better on ice due to their siping, but you could always sipe your mud tires.

Wheel spin is generally the enemy, once a tire starts spinning it starts digging. Once you stop forward progress don't punch it, just stop, roll back a foot, and then try to rebuild your momentum again without spinning tires. Sometimes you may need wheelspin and a lot of momentum to make an icy climb, but I'll generally try the no wheelspin method first.

Next, for hill descents: stay off the brakes!! Try using engine compression (although not too much cause it can also lock em up) and lightly pumping the breaks so that you can do some steering correction. ________________________________________ Vehicle: From: Alaska ZJ Antifreeze. Use it and make sure it is correct.

Basic upkeep should suffice but foreseeing a problem and fixing it early could save you some cold fingers.

Bring snowshoes incase you have to walk out.

Bring some nice dry wood to start a fire.

Bring enough food and sleeping bags for everyone in your vehicle. Food should last you 3-4 days worth (one MRE [Meals Ready-To-Eat] a day is just barely enough food, I just take a case of them and call it good).

Pot to melt snow in and make water.

Flare's you can start just about anything on fire with a flare.

Top Ten Tips for Wheeling in the Snow - - Jeep at
4-Wheeling How To - Winter 4-Wheeling Tips for On and Off-Highway Driving

Books: "4-Wheel Freedom: The art of off-Road Driving", by Brad DeLong

Web Pages: Offroad Tire Tips at
Offroad Driving Frequently Asked Questions
4x4 Tips For Beginners at
Trail Tips at ECO-4WD
4WD and SUV driving tips at (Ten Stupid Things men do to mess up their four wheel drive | Tire safety tips)
Top Ten Tips for Wheeling in the Snow - - Jeep at
4-Wheeling How To - Winter 4-Wheeling Tips for On and Off-Highway Driving

last updated 3 Dec 2009