Adventure Vehicles

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How to Drive Off-Road

Never driven off-road before? Here, Siler walks through the basics in his go-to truck: a 1998 Toyota 4Runner that, even with a bunch of nice upgrades, only cost $10,000

Video Transcript

SUBJECT: This is my 21-year-old Toyota 4Runner. It is my go-to offroad vehicle because A, I don't have to care about it. If I roll this, if I damage this, it's not going to ruin my life. And B, it's honestly super capable. It's a simple, mechanical four-wheel drive vehicle that just gets the job done. 

It has real four-wheel drive. It has low-range gearing and a locking diff. And on top of that, I've throw on a bumper, lights, wench, suspension, of bigger tires. All that together really adds up to a really useful vehicle that only cost $10,000. If you're looking to buy a car to go off-road in, do it with something like this, not a brand new vehicle. 

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The easiest way to gain traction and improve your ride quality off-road is to drop your air pressure to 20 PSI in your tires. Easiest way to do that is with one of these ARB E-Z deflators. Let me show you how it works. 

Putting these covers in the safe. I always lose 'em. The E-Z deflator is made from brass, the same material as your valve stem. So when you screw it on, it's not going to disturb the thread [INAUDIBLE]. And what I'll do here is screw this on. 

But my screw connection contains all this operation safely away from dust and dirt. So we're gonna remove the valve cord by twisting it out like this. And then if you dump tons of air-- 

So over, just using a tire pressure gauge, slowly crash with our cord and [INAUDIBLE] that way [INAUDIBLE]. 20 PSI. Just make sure you go back and [INAUDIBLE]. Screw the valve cord back in nice and tight. Pull this off, and you're done. Then we'll do the next tire. So it's just 30, 60 seconds a tire. Couldn't be faster. 

On an off-road capable vehicle like his 4Runner, you'll see a low-range transfer case, which multiplies your gearing. And by multiplying your gearing, you're letting the gearing, instead of the engine, doing this work. 

I'm about to drive up this super steep hill right here. I'm gonna do it in first gear, four low, everything locked. It's going to be drama-free. I'm going to get up there at like just above idle RPM. 

This is going to look super easy and be super straightforward, all thanks to that super low gearing. So with any offered obstacle, the main thing you wanna be worried about is tackling it as straight as possible, so as perpendicular to the obstacle as you can get. 

You don't want the vehicle twisting off to the side. You don't want the vehicle leaning too far. You want to have your front up and your back down, or vise versa. You don't want one side higher than the other. That's where things start to get dangerous. 

One of the best safety tips I can give to anybody going off-road is to use a buddy to spot you over tricky obstacles. Outside of the vehicle, they have a better view of what your wheels and tires are doing, where you have traction, where you don't have traction, stuff that you can't see from in here. 

It's a good communication within the front of your vehicle, telling you what to do. It just can double your safety. It's so useful. So the trick to off-road driving is just to make a plan for what you can see in front of you. Execute that plan and then move on. Just rinse and repeat. 

There's an old saying that you hear off-road that really is relevant and really is useful. And it's as slow as possible, as fast as necessary. If you approach every obstacle with that mindset, as slow as you can possibly take it while still getting through it, you'll have the most safety and most capability.