From rock crawling the most threatening pass to playing in the mud, are you sure your 4×4’s ready for what Mother Nature’s wrath has to offer?
In this article, we bring you the most important modifications you need for your 4×4 to help you avoid the element of surprise, especially when ride turns from pleasant to rowdy.
Since tires come in contact with the ground, they’re the first thing that can get you through almost everything: mud, sand and snow. Plus, because of their shape, they “glide” on obstacles and are also useful for climbing steep surfaces.
But how do they really provide you with the proper traction? The answer lies on the designs or patterns found on their exteriors. For example, the rib tread patterns have high rolling resistance on wet surfaces so that you don’t just slide and crash into something. Then there’s also block tread patterns which automatically prevent water build-ups.
There are two ways of lifting your vehicle – body lift and suspension lift. Although the former lets you add space between the frame and the tub, only the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle are raised. It doesn’t offer much difference because the frames and other vital parts remain on the same level.
On the contrary, the latter is composed of larger shocks and springs that automatically raise your 4×4’s engine frame to a desirable height. With it, the breakover point or your vehicle’s middle part also gets a boost that’ll improve ground clearance which is very helpful in climbing huge hurdles.
Moreover, you shouldn’t neglect the idea of an axle inspection. If you’re planning on using large tires, you have to be sure that the tires still have room for spinning and are not restricted in any other way. Why? Because they affect your 4×4’s performance.
One way of improving your axle is through purchasing lockers. Such lockers secure wheels in place in a manner that they maintain equal momentum because the moment one of them moves at a different speed, you’ll also compromise your traction.
The electrical system was intentionally created to keep your 4×4’s battery charged. When you start making additional lights, fridges, etc., you put pressure on your vehicle’s system resulting in the uneven power distribution, which can eventually lead to malfunctions.
Because of this, it’s important that you have dual batteries installed and a properly working wiring harness platform that are heavy-duty so they can keep up with the more demanding manner of running your vehicle. However, you should also be aware of your electrical system’s parts to help you understand how they operate your 4×4.
Battery – is the engine’s lifeblood.
Alternator – spins to evenly distribute electricity to the necessary parts of your vehicle.
Eco Device – filters how much electric current in your vehicle should be produced based on your vehicle’s load.
Starter – lets you run your vehicle the moment you use your key.
Cables and Wires – prevent your vehicle from malfunctioning.
In terms of damage mitigation, bumper upgrades are necessary when considering 4×4 modifications. They may not give you 100% protection from collisions but they still reduce the impact which can otherwise be extremely fatal in their absence or unchanged condition.
This is definitely true when you go extreme 4x4ing on unfamiliar territories where animals may suddenly appear in front of you knocking you over or crushing your engine’s vital parts. In other words, bumpers can save you from expensive life-threatening and vehicle maintenance costs.
Bumpers also help when you’re planning to have additional vehicle lights as such can be mounted on them (e.g. flood lights and spotlights).
However, be very careful in using special forms of bumper like the bull bars. Bull bars are okay when you live in rural areas where wild creatures like kangaroos and foxes abound. But the same can’t be said when you live in a city. This is because of the risk of pedestrian accidents which led to why varying laws on bull bars from one state to another are passed.
Of course, leaving without a winch is a huge mistake because it greatly assists you in performing 4×4 recoveries. Whether you get stuck in the mud or trapped in between stones, your winch is your ticket to self-rescue.
While there are two primary types of winch that are the electric and manual, the popular one being the electric gets power from your 4×4 batteries. And because your alternator helps you harness it, it doesn’t run out of power and keeps your 4×4 batteries charged at the same time.
When it comes to a winch’s pulling capacity, vehicle size is a huge factor because it matches your vehicle’s load for an effective pulling process. If you own an ATV or any similar small to regular-size vehicle, technically, you’ll only need a 4,000-9,000lb winch. On the contrary, if you’re using a larger jeep or a truck and are thinking about enhancing its build more, you’ll definitely have to consider buying a 12,000+lb winch.
Take note, winches also come in two types of rope. The wire cable is very tough against abrasion but can be lethal when broken; whereas, the synthetic rope is as light as a feather yet often needs a replacement.
Improving Your Off roading Skills
Even if you manage to get the necessary 4×4 modifications to get your vehicle going, you should never forget your role as the driver. That’s because almost everything still depends on how well you know your stuff. And this involves how you play your off-roading strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses.
Good thing we have some off-roading tips to help keep your thinking hinges working the way they ought to be.
Get a 4WD Training Course
Experience is a great teacher but it becomes better if it’s further strengthened by professional guidance. This happens when you turn to a particular company composed of a trained group of people that provides you with vital 4x4ing tactics from basic to advanced. There’s a practical test that requires you to carefully follow a series of steps or stages for completion and there’s also a part where you learn the 4x4ing art based on the books. Usually, normal 4WD lessons cost $280 and self-recovery at $285.
One example of this is Overlanding BC that helps you know your way on winter driving and winch recovery, aside from traditional off-roading. Prices vary depending on the level of difficulty.
Participate in 4WD Tag along Tours
A tag along tour happens when a tag along guide or “leader” heads a group of 4x4ers through a convoy or an expedition. His or her responsibilities include showing popular spots to the group and assist them should a problem arise along the way (e.g. getting stuck in the rut, how to use a winch, etc.). The good thing about participating in a tag along tour is it instills in you the value of camaraderie with your peers.
You learn from one another by looking at different driving styles and ask what sort of items you should bring in an off-roading trip.
And because you’ll be exploring most of the time, it automatically familiarizes you to different terrains and how to approach them:
It’s basically hitting two birds with one stone because you get to learn something new and have fun at the same time.
Use Two Winch Dampeners
Normally, when doing a single-line pull, you only use one winch dampener right in the middle of the rope to reduce the snapping force.
However, it’ll be a lot safer if you’ll be using two winch dampeners in the pulling process – one that’s two meters away from the hook and strap, then the other which is 20 meters (at the center) from the first winch dampener.
Take note that the moment a rope breaks, the amount of snapping force will be at its greatest near the hook and strap. So, the first winch dampener will automatically reduce such a force and the second reduces it further, to ensure nothing deadly happens.
Respool Winch Whether New or Used
A winch won’t be able to properly perform its purpose if you haven’t respooled it. But what is respooling anyway? Respooling is a method of carefully winding a winch’s rope in place to prevent the pulling process from getting out of control.
Suppose you have a new winch. Even though its rope is neatly rolled, it still lacks pre-tension or a test run with the winch that may cause it to get accidentally damaged in an actual 4×4 recovery.
As for a used winch, it has already taken a lot of beating that makes its rope tangled. And by the time you use your winch again, you can end up bending the rope or risk melting it.
To prevent either of the two from happening, here’s how you respool your winch. For full instructions and reminders, click here.
By having the five valuable 4×4 mods on your vehicle, you make your vehicle more resilient and better prepared for whatever it may encounter. But of course, you also need to be well-equipped with the adequate and valid knowledge of 4x4ing as sometimes your survival depends on your wits. Share us your other 4×4 mods by commenting below.