Off Road Driving Guide

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Off-Road driving can be hazardous!!!

DO NOT take unnecessary risks
Be prepared for emergencies at all times.
Familiarise yourself with the recommended driving techniques in order to minimise risks to yourself
your vehicle AND your passengers.
Always use a seat belt for personal protection in all off-road driving conditions
DO NOT drive if the fuel level is low – undulating ground and steep inclines could cause fuel
starvation to the engine
Driving off-road with a loaded roof rack is not recommended If it is necessary to stow luggage on the
roof-rack while driving off-road, all loads MUST be removed before traversing side slopes.


These basis driving techniques are an introduction to the art of off-road driving and do not necessarily provide the
information needed to successfully cope with every single off-road situation.

It is strongly recommend that owners who intend to drive oft-road frequently should seek as much additional
information and practical experience as possible

Gear selection

Correct gear selection is possibly the single most important factor for safe and successful off-road driving. While
only experience will tell you which is the correct gear for any section of ground, the following basis rules apply:

1. NEVER change gear or de-clutch while negotiating difficult terrain – the drag on the wheels may cause the
vehicle to stop when the clutch is depressed and restarting may be difficult.

2. Generally and especially where slippery or soft ground conditions prevail, the higher the gear you select the

3. When descending very steep slopes always select 1st gear in LOW range.

Inexperienced drivers are advised to stop the vehicle and carefully consider which gear will be most appropriate to
each manoeuvre before continuing.

Slipping the clutch

Use of excessive clutch slip to prevent the engine stalling will result in premature clutch wear. Always select a gear
low enough to enable the vehicle to proceed without the need to slip the clutch.

DO NOT drive with your foot resting on the clutch pedal; driving across uneven terrain could cause you to
inadvertently depress the clutch. resulting in loss of control of the vehicle.

Transfer gears

High range gears should be used whenever possible – only change to low range when ground conditions become
very difficult. The DIFF LOCK should he engaged whenever there is a risk of losing wheel grip and disengaged as
soon as firm, level, non-slippery ground is reached.


As far as possible vehicle speed should be controlled through correct gear selection. Application of the brake pedal
should be kept to an absolute minimum. Unless ABS is fitted, any braking on wet muddy or loose surfaces is likely
to cause one or more wheels to lock – the resultant slide could prove dangerous.

NOTE: If the correct gear has been selected, braking will be largely unnecessary.

Use of engine for braking

Before descending steep slopes, stop the vehicle at least a length before the descent. select neutral in the main
gearbox. Engage LOW range and then select first or second gear depending on the severity of the incline.

While descending the slope it should be remembered that the engine will provide sufficient braking effort to control
the rate of descent and that the brakes should not be applied.


Use the accelerator with care – unless Traction control is fitted. any sudden surge of power may induce wheel spin
and result in loss of control of the vehicle.



DO NOT hold the steering wheel with your thumbs inside the rim a sudden `kick’ of the wheel as the vehicle
negotiates a rut or boulder could seriously injure them
ALWAYS grip the wheel on the outside of the rim (as shown) when traversing uneven ground.

Survey the ground before driving

Before negotiating difficult terrain, it is wise to carry out a preliminary survey on foot. This will minimise the risk of
your vehicle getting into difficulty through a previously unnoticed hazard.

Ground clearance

Don’t forget to allow for around clearance beneath the chassis, axles, and under the front and rear bumpers. Note
that the axle differentials are situated BELOW the chassis and are positioned slightly to the RI.GHT of the centre of
the vehicle. Note also that there are other parts of the vehicle which may come into contact with the ground; take
care not to ground the vehicle.

Ground clearance is particularly important at the bottom of a steep slope! or where wheel ruts are unusually deep
and where sudden changes in the slope of the ground are experienced

On soft around the axle differentials will clear their own path in all but the most difficult conditions. However on
frozen, rocky or hard ground, hard contact between the differentials and the ground will generally result in the
vehicle coming to a sudden stop.

Always attempt to avoid obstacles that may foul the chassis or axle differentials.

Loss of traction

On vehicles not fitted with Traction control. If the vehicle is immobile due to loss of wheel grip, the following hints
could be of value:

Avoid prolonged wheel spin: this will make matters worse.

Remove obstacles rather than forcing the vehicle across them

Clear clogged tyre treads.

Reverse as far as possible: then attempt an increased speed approach – additional momentum may
overcome the obstacle.

Brushwood sacking or any similar material placed in front of the tyres will improve tyre grip.


After driving off-road

Before rejoining or the public highway driving at speeds above 40km/h (25mph)! consideration should be given to
the following:

Wheels and tyres must be cleaned of mud and inspected for damage – ensure there are no lumps or bulges
in the tyres or exposure of the ply or cord structure.

Brake discs and callipers should be examined and any stones or grit that may affect braking efficiency

Servicing requirements

Vehicles operating in arduous conditions, particularly on dusty, muddy, or wet terrain, and vehicles undergoing
frequent or deep wading conditions will require more frequent servicing.

In addition:
After driving in salt water or driving on sandy beaches, use a hose to thoroughly wash the under body components
and any exposed body panels with fresh water. This will help to protect the vehicle’s cosmetic appearance.


The ideal technique for driving on soft ground and dry sand requires the vehicle to be kept moving at all times – soft
ground and sand causes excessive drag on the wheels, resulting in a rapid loss of motion once driving momentum is
lost. For this reason gear changing should be avoided

Engage the DIFF LOCK.

Select the highest suitable gear and REMAIN in that gear until a firm surface is reached. It is generally
advisable to use LOW range gears, as these will enable you to accelerate through worsening conditions without the
risk of being unable to restart.

Disengage the DIFF LOCK as soon as firm ground is reached

Stopping the vehicle on soft ground, in sand or on an incline

If you do stop your vehicle remember:

Starting on an incline or in soft ground or sand is almost impossible. Always park on a firm level area, or with the
vehicle facing downhill.

On vehicles not fitted with Traction control, to avoid wheel spin, select second or third gear and use the MINIMUM
throttle necessary to get the vehicle moving.

If forward motion is lost, avoid excessive use of the throttle on vehicles not fitted with Traction control this will
cause wheel spin and tend to dig the vehicle into the sand Clear sand from around the tyres and ensure that the
chassis and axles are not bearing on the sand before again attempting to move.

If the wheels have sunk, use an air bag lifting device or high lift jack to raise the vehicle and then build up sand
under the wheels so that the vehicle is again on level ground. If a restart is still not possible, place sand mats or
ladders beneath the wheels.

(Ice, snow, mud, wet grass)

With the DIFF LOCK engaged select the highest gear possible.

Drive away using the MINIMUM possible throttle opening.

Drive slowly at all times, keeping braking to a minimum and avoiding violent movements of the steering

Disengage the DIFF LOCK as soon as a non slippery surface is reached.


Although rough tracks can sometimes be negotiated in normal drive, it is advisable to lock the differential if
excessive suspension movement is likely to induce wheel spin

On very rough tracks, engage LOW range to enable a steady, low speed to be maintained without constant use of the
brake and clutch pedals.

Always disengage the DIFF LOCK when smooth. firm ground is reached.


Engage the DIFF LOCK and ALWAYS follow the fall line of the slope – travelling diagonally could encourage the
vehicle to slide broadside down the slope.

Steep climbs will usually require the LOW gear range. If the surface is loose or slippery, use sufficient speed in the
highest practical gear to take advantage of the vehicles momentum. However, too high a speed over a bumpy surface
may result in a wheel lifting. Causing vehicles not fitted with Traction control to lose traction. In this case try a
slower approach. Traction can also he improved by easing off the accelerator just before loss of forward motion.

If the vehicle is unable to complete a climb do not attempt to turn it around while on the slope. Instead adopt the
following procedure to reverse downhill to the foot of the slope:

1. Hold the vehicle stationary using both foot and hand brakes.

2.Restart the engine if necessary

3. Engage reverse gear LOW range

4. Release the handbrake. Then release the foot brake and clutch simultaneously and allow the vehicle to
reverse down the slope using engine braking to control the rate of descent.

5. Unless it is necessary to stop the vehicle in order to negotiate obstructions. DO NOT apply the brake or
clutch pedal during the descent.

6. It the vehicle begins to slide, accelerate slightly to allow the tyres to regain grip.

When the vehicle is back on level ground or where traction can be regained, a faster approach will probably- enable
the hill to be climbed. However DO NOT take unnecessary risks if the hill is to difficult to climb find an alternative

The engine must be restarted before reversing down the slope, as there will be no servo assistance to the brakes
unless the engine is running


A. Stop the vehicle at least a vehicle length before the slope and engage first gear LOW range with the
differential locked –

B. Unless it is necessary to stop the vehicle in order to negotiate obstructions. DO NOT touch the brake or
clutch pedals during the descent – the engine will limit the speed, keeping the vehicle under control
provided the front wheels are turning. If the vehicle beams to slide, accelerate gently to maintain directional
stability –DO NOT use the brakes or attempt to change gear.

C. Once level grounds reached, unlock the differential and select a suitable gear for the next stage of your


Failure to follow these instructions may cause the vehicle to roll over.


Before crossing a slope, ALWAYS observe the following precautions:

Check that the ground is firm and not slippery

Check that the wheels on the downhill side of the vehicle are not likely to drop into any depressions in the
ground and that the uphill wheels will not run over rocks, tree roots, or similar obstacles that could
suddenly increase the angle of tilt.

Ensure that passenger weight is evenly distributed, that all root rack luggage is removed and that all other
luggage is properly secured and stowed as low as possible. Always remember; any sudden movement of
the load could cause the vehicle to overturn.

Rear seat- passengers should sit on the uphill side of the vehicle or, in extreme conditions. should vacate
the vehicle until the sloping ground has been safely negotiated.


Observe extreme caution! Steering up either of the gully walls could cause the side of the vehicle to be trapped
against the opposite gully wall.


As far as possible allow the vehicle to steer itself along the bottom of the ruts. However, always keep a light hold of
the steering wheel to prevent it from spinning free

Particularly in wet conditions, if the steering wheel is allowed to spin free, the vehicle may appear to be driving
straight ahead in the ruts, but in actual fact (due to the lack of traction caused by the wet ground) is unknowingly on
full right or left lock. Then, when level ground is reached. or it a dry patch is encountered the wheels will find
traction and cause the vehicle to suddenly veer to left or right.


Approach at right angles so that both front wheels and then both rear wheels cross the ridge together – an angled
approach could cause traction to be lost (if Traction control is not fitted) through diagonally opposite wheels lifting
from the ground at the same time


With the DIFF LOCK engaged, cross ditches at an angle so that three wheels always maintain contact with the
ground (if approached head on, both front wheels will drop into the ditch together, possibly resulting in the chassis
and front bumper being trapped on opposite sides of the ditch.


WARNING!!! Check the manufacturer’s recommended maximum advisable wading depth for your vehicle.
Severe electrical damage may occur if the vehicle remains stationary for any length of time when the water
level is above the door sills.

It the water is likely to exceed the recommended maximum advisable wading depth for your vehicle while the
vehicle is moving, the following precautions MUST be observed:

Fix a plastic sheet in front of the radiator grille to prevent water from soaking the engine and mud from
blocking the radiator.

Fit a drain plug to the flywheel housing and diesel engine timing cover – Tdi engines only (see `Owner
maintenance’ instructions in your vehicle handbook).

Ensure that the silt bed beneath the water is firm enough to support the vehicle’s weight and provide
sufficient traction.

Ensure that the engine air intake is clear of the water.

To prevent saturation of the electrical system and air intake, avoid excessive engine speed.

With the DIFF LOCK engaged, select a low gear and maintain sufficient throttle to prevent the engine from
stalling. This is particularly important it the exhaust pipe is under water.

Drive slowly into the water and accelerate to a speed which causes a bow wave to form; then maintain that

At all times, keep all the doors fully closed.

After wading

Drive the vehicle a short distance and apply the foot brake to check that the brakes are fully effective.

DO NOT rely on the handbrake to hold the vehicle stationary until the transmission has thoroughly dried
out; in the meantime, leave the vehicle parked in gear.

Remove the timing cover drain plug (where fitted) and also any covering material from the front of the
radiator grille.

If the water was particularly muddy, remove any blockages (mud and leaves) from the radiator to reduce
the risk of overheating.

If deep water is regularly negotiated, check transmission oils for signs of water contamination –
contaminated oilcan be identified through its ‘milky’ appearance. In addition, check the air filter element for
water ingress, and replace if wet.

Vehicles required to undergo frequent or deep wading conditions will require more frequent servicing.

If salt water is frequently negotiated, thoroughly wash the under body components and exposed body
panels, with fresh water.

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