One of the most fun things you’ll ever do offroad is getting the courage up to belt your pride and joy 4WD through sloppy mud.
Taking your 4WD into one of the most intense terrain types around will not only put a smile on your face all weekend long, but when you get back to work on Monday, all your workplace will see that your 4WD rig isn’t just another mall crawler and has seen real offroad action at least once in its lifetime!
Other than a good quality snorkel and a trusty set of All Terrains or Mud Terrain tyres, there aren’t too many mods you need before you head out for a drive through your local mud puddle.
Here are our favourite tips for having the most fun and avoiding damage to your pride and joy off road!
- Get the tyres low
Whilst letting down your tyres feels a little bit like a chore, and lets face it, is hardly an exciting part of heading offroad, its undeniable how critical it is to gaining a mountain of traction and increasing your fun factor whilst offroad.
You may have heard about dropping your tyres before, but most people fail to realize just how much air you need to drop, with most people getting themselves into mischief on the tracks due to running too much air pressure.
If you run your tyres at recommended highway pressures when you are on the mud you are surely going to get bogged, by dropping them down to approximately half the highway pressures you will double the overall contact surface area, and will also protect the sidewalls from punctures and gashes usually encountered when running over sharp sticks and rocks hidden under the mud.
Whilst your go to when you first started 4WDing was probably using your key to let your tyre pressures down, this method is slow and frustrating, due to the inaccuracy of letting pressures down evenly. The most efficient way to dump your tyre pressures down is by using a purpose made tyre deflation tool with an integrated gauge not the older style of “settable” or “automatic” tyre pressure tools.
An integrated gauge gives you the ability to constantly check what pressure you are at as you go making it suitable for situations where you need to adjust your pressures, or even for lending to other 4WDers. Something like the Kwiky Tyre Deflation Tool makes short work of dropping pressures and will let you set all 4 corners down to exactly the same pressure for the most balanced offroad performance.
2.Wind up your windows, and close your sunroof
Mud is a blast, but it becomes a nightmare extremely quickly if you have to clean it out of your carpet following a bust up in a deep puddle.
It may come as a bit of a no-brainer, but unless you like bringing spare clothes and getting your cars interior dry cleaned or your 4WD is equipped with a vinyl interior, battening the hatches on your 4WD up is probably the best idea you could have, we’ve discovered many times that learning the hard way isn’t as much fun.
If you are as forgetful as us a simple solution to preserving your upholstery, you can always install a pair of Adventure Kings neoprene seat covers, or a set of Adventure Kings Heavy duty seat covers to help keep the grunge and muck well off, and when you are getting back in and out with muddy boots, a set of Adventure Kings Deep dish rubber floor mats to catch the mud and slop off your boots and keep your carpet looking schmick, these can all be taken out when you are home and hosed in the yard to freshen up your interior without expensive dry cleaning costs.
3.Top up your washer bottle fluid.
Unlike your blinker fluid, your washer bottle is critical when smashing bogholes, this handy trick has saved our vision on the tracks more times than we can remember, after smashing a deep puddle with mud splashing up over your bonnet, and making your windscreen impossible to see through, it also makes heading home from a mud puddle sesh misery, don’t forget your rear window washer bottle too!
A dash of soap and a simple spray whilst the mud is still wet will make it much easier for your wipers to clear the windscreen and help you see the road ahead.
A spare bottle of water in the cab is ideal, not just for staying hydrated but also for cleaning bits that don’t have a sprayer, such as your headlights LED Driving Lights and side mirrors, makes the drive home at night time less stressful, and far more legal.
4.Slow and steady!
Just like any slippery terrain, a stable throttle is a s good as any other traction aid in getting you through to the other end of your mud bog, stable application of accelerator will give you enhanced grip by maintaining grip, and sustaining forward drive and momentum.
Along with maintaining traction it will help to avoid digging deep wheel ruts and will sustain your momentum. Coupled with picking a suitable gear before the muddy section, will save you stacks of embarrassment getting sucked down into sticky situations.
A stable pace, and sustained momentum will keep your steering far more predictable as well, when driving through greasy mud, fast or twitchy steering inputs can be delayed by a second or more, whilst your tyres struggle to gain grip, meaning a steady throttle, makes the delay in vehicle response much more predictable, allowing you to navigate the tricky bits easier.
Sometimes this doesn’t work out as well as you planned which is where a Domin8r Xtreme Winch hooked up with its wireless controller can help you out, simply get your winch ready for a recovery before you enter the water, and attach a milk bottle via the milk bottle handle to your winch hook, this means it will now float to the surface, and all you need to do to retrieve your winch cable for a recovery is fish out the floating milk bottle, walk out the cable and you are golden, this trick means you won’t have to go for a dive trying to find your winch hook underwater.
5.Take the high ground
When presented with a choice to navigate through super deep muddy sections, water almost always drains downhill (unless in thick clay soil) so pick the higher ground for a shallower alternative (most of the time).
It’s sometimes not worth the risk to hit the deepest part of the puddle if you can avoid it, as deep water can result in getting your rig stuck to the sills, filling your vehicle interior with water, and making your life a misery.
Chicken tracks are there for a reason, and unless you are prepared to get your 4WD into risky situations, then sometimes that may be your best option, don’t let a good ribbing from your mates force you into situations you are extremely uncomfortable with, not driving it will cost your reputation, but sometimes driving it will cost you big dollaridoos in repair/recovery bills.
6.always bring your mate (& recovery gear)
Make sure you have a suitable recovery vehicle on hand at all times, even if your vehicle is fitted with a Domin8r X 12,000LB winch you can never be certain of a solid recovery anchor.
Before you get into the deep bits, get your recovery gear all hooked up to your rated recovery points, pre-preparing this will save you from a muddy snorkeling trip trying to reach underwater (or under mud) for your rated points and blindly fumbling with shackles when you don’t make it to the other side!
It’s also a good idea to keep an open line of communication going over the UHF radio this way you and your buddy don’t do a synchronized dive into the thick stuff and simultaneously get bogged up to your windscreens!
Even if you don’t need a recovery its always good to have a laugh when you tackle the tracks with your buddies!
7.Getting back on the blacktop
When all the fun has been had and all things are said and done, its time to get your 4WD back up and ready for the blacktop. This involves getting your tyres up to pressure, and doing a once over on your vehicle, to check for any damage or anything else that will cause you grief later on.
Mud offers up a lot of external forces on your vehicle the water pressures at play aren’t forgiving, and when hitting mud puddles it isn’t uncommon for things like Number plates to be bent up and out of the way, and bits of sticks and branches to get stuck under your vehicles body pan or up in your drive shafts and wrapped around your axles.
So whilst you are airing up with a portable 12 volt compressor like the Thumper MKII or Thumper Max it’s a good time to go over the whole under-body and check that everything is where it is supposed to be and that you haven’t collected any unwanted cling ons when you were in the mud.
This is also a good opportunity to check that your indicators headlights and brake lights are still visible to other road users, especially heading towards dusk, as you could get yourself into trouble if you don’t make sure these are fully visible.
8.hose the filthy beast off!
After a few days in the bush you probably feel like a good shower to remove all of the grub from the bush, your 4WD is not too different – whilst you may like the look of mud splashed all over your 4WD, after a few days and even in under a week the crusty mud can start to do damage to your vehicles clear coat paint, plastic trim, rubber bushings, hoses, engine belts and even wheel bearings and cv joints. So it is important to not leave your 4WD crusty caked in mud for longer than absolutely necessary.
There are hundreds of ways to wash your vehicle, but we always choose to start the process at a pay to play, self service style carwash on the way home, this lets us rinse the majority of the caked on mud off the vehicle, which makes a final clean later on a much easier process, these facilities are set up to handle the mud output and filter out big chunks and recycle the water for later use, meaning you aren’t dumping mounds of dirt on your lawn at home, or clogging up your driveway drain with thick clumps.
With these 8 tips you can get out there and have some fun in your 4WD without fear, to find out more about the entire range of gear from 4WD Supacentre head over to www.4WDSupacentre.com.au call our expert team on 1800 88 39 64 or drop into one of our stores to see the range in person and nab yourself an unbearable bargain on some of Australia’s most affordable gear!