Are you planning to do some off-roading in the winter and don’t know what you should know before going for it ? Are you finding some pro tips for snow off-roading ?
Then you come to the right place. In this article I’m going to take you through everything you should know before hitting snow with your 4*4.
For that , I’m going to give you an all in one guide for snow off-roading while answering the following FAQ’s. so read further..
- What are the top 10 tips for snow off-roading ?
- What should I bring for snow off-roading ?
- How to prepare for a snow off-roading trip ?
- How to drive on snow like a pro ?
- What should I do if my vehicle is stuck on snow ?
- 1 10 Tips for off-roading on snow like a pro
- 2 Get prepared for snow off-roading..
- 3 How to drive on snow like a pro
- 4 What should You do if your vehicle is stuck in snow
10 Tips for off-roading on snow like a pro
- Get prepared properly for the journey according to a pre made checklist.
- Check the weather forecast before leaving.
- Inform someone who is responsible for your journey and try to drive as a group.
- On snow keep steady momentum, but keep your speed down.
- Use 4*4 low range when you need more traction and control.
- If surface is slippery engage diff lockers
- Reduce tire pressure for about 8psi.
- Use tires with semi aggressive tread pattern and wide footprint
- If you got stucked avoid excessive wheel spinning.Try to release your vehicle with our techniques in this guide.
- When descending slopes always ensure you can drive back-up when you need it, even snow melted.
Get prepared for snow off-roading..
You have to prepare your things according to your trip. It’s better to prepare a checklist for your off-roading trip first.
It will avoid missing important things and bringing unnecessary things.
You should keep in mind, not to bring unnecessary things, because it’ll increase the weight of your vehicle.
It may be a disadvantage for you when doing off-roading on snow.
First you have to prepare things that will be needed for you and your partners. Enough amount of snacks and water for 48hours.
Extra clothes and blankets will be useful in some situations.
Vehicle’s engine and cooling system.
Then you have to consider your vehicle’s needs. Do your essential services and change engine oil and transmission oil before hitting snow.
Keep in mind to use an antifreeze coolant for radiator before snow driving.
Because water will freeze in those low temperatures and block your radiator causing a lot of damage to your cooling system and engine in between the trail.
Check your winches for proper working.
Winch will be very useful if you are stuck on snow.
I’ll discuss how to recover your stuck vehicle on snow later in this article.
Next most important thing is tires. Tires will decide if your vehicle moves or bogged down on snow. So you should choose them wisely.
For snow off-roading purpose there are dedicated snow/winter tires. but they are not suitable for use all 12 months.
Then you have to use two tire sets for winter and other months.
But all terrain tires also give a good traction on ice covered roads than normal street tires. But for deep snow they are not work well.
For those type of snow Mud terrain tires do the job well.
You can go for that option according to your needs.
Try to get a good suitable tire set before entering snow off-roading. It will help you very much on snow.
Extreme weather conditions in winter , vehicle batteries get dead frequently. This will be the worst case if this happens in the middle of a snow off-roading trip.
Chemical batteries commonly cause these problems. So if you can invest in a suitable battery in winter , it will relieve you from a lot of trouble.
There are good batteries out there like Optima Red Top Batteries that are specially designed for winter.
Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition. Fill windshield washer fluids with anti freezing quality.
Bring an ice scraper and a deicer with you.
How to drive on snow like a pro
As I mentioned above,steady momentum will drive you through snow easily without sticking your vehicle.
But not like on sand you should keep your speed low to avoid slipping. But there are exceptions. Condition of snow is changing rapidly.
Even in one day the quality of snow will change with the effect of sunlight.
If you drive on a snowy track in the morning and come back again on the same track in evening you may feel the difference of snow between those two times.
The icy crust that holds your vehicle’s weight in the morning may melt and vanish in the afternoon due to warming.
So you have to understand the condition of snow. Snow may be fresh and light powder or wet packed ice several inches thick.
If you drive on light powdery snow your tires going to cut through them and find a good grip to move you forward.
You should know exactly what’s under those snow before driving on them.
There may be logs of fallen trees, rocks or anything covered and hidden under these snow. So you should be careful about that when doing snow off-roading.
You can start with the highest practical gear to avoid transmitting high torque to wheels. Because that will cause wheel spinning on slippery snow.
That gear may differ with the vehicle. But if you feel like your vehicle is stalling when you try to pull out in one high gear, reduce the gear and try again.by that way you can find it if you don’t know what gear to choose.
As in a normal road you should not accelerate quickly when ascending a hill in snow off-roading. Because it will cause spinning of the wheel.
The problem of wheels spinning on snow is, heat produced due to friction of tires and snow will melt the ice around the tires while tires bogging down through snow.
After you stopped the wheel spinning melted ice around your tires will freeze again rapidly while you are trapping in place.
You have to take the required momentum before ascending with the highest possible gear.
If the momentum is not enough you should come back again and take the required momentum without unnecessarily spinning wheels.
According to the situation you can use diff-lockers and 4*4 low range to take more traction.
You can turn your steering wheel quarter to left and right if you feel it’s hard to reach your destination.
This will guide your front wheels to find a good grip and move you forward.
This is a very effective driving technique when climbing up in slippery conditions
Descending a slope
In both ascending and descending you should drive your vehicle straight up and down.
Trying to drive across a slope will cause sliding or rolling of your vehicle.
Next important point is if you drive up or down a hill in snow off-roading you should consider whether you can drive back again on that route.
When you come back snow may have melted and track may get in to slippery mud.
You have to check whether you can drive on that route on those conditions also.
When descending gravity is on your side. So you have to worry about controlling the vehicle from sliding.
You have to get the use of engine braking to avoid sliding caused by over braking. But still engine braking also causes sliding in extreme slippery ice.
You have to control your steering properly without under steering or oversteering. Both of those causes sliding.
You should not panic and do unnecessary things when sliding.
You have to control your vehicle smoothly and apply gas and brake properly to avoid sliding.
Braking techniques on snow..
Even on a flat surface on snow will cause sliding when braking. So you have to apply brake keeping enough distance to stop your vehicle.
Even if you have ABS on your vehicle you have to apply brakes with more room to stop, because in slippery conditions ABS will increase the stopping distance by stopping the wheel locking.
Brakes should apply gently and in an alternative manner if you don’t have ABS in your vehicle.
Should not lock your wheels while braking on snow.
It will reduce the friction furthermore and increases the stopping distance of your vehicle.
What should You do if your vehicle is stuck in snow
Getting stuck is also a major fun part of off-roading on any terrain. Even if you use pro techniques there are so many times that terrain will defeat you and trapped in one place.
To overcome these situations I’ll give you a set of techniques.
In all these conditions use suitable highest gear and give some side to side steering while gently accelerating.
Don’t try to spin your wheels unnecessarily. Use minimum throttling to pull out your vehicle.
Moving the vehicle backward and forward
Before getting out of the vehicle you can try moving your vehicle forward and backward by gearing alternatively between forward and reverse gears.
This will help if your wheels get stuck in deep snow.
Reverse back on the same way you come
Try to reverse your vehicle gently in the same way you come.It’ll be easier than struggling to go forward to unstuck.
If those things do not work in your situation you have to do some outdoor work.
Use proper clothing to keep your body temperature..
Apart from everything you should take precautions to avoid harming yourself from these extreme weather conditions.
You should cover your body with suitable clothes that can keep your body temperature in normal range when you work out in snow.
Clearing snow around wheels and under the chassis..
If your wheels dig down through snow and chassis sitting on a bed of snow, you have to clear snow under the chassis and around the wheels.
This will help the wheels to cut through snow and find a grip to move your vehicle forward again and also avoid the friction created by ice and vehicle chassis.
You can use your shovel for this. To clear snow under the vehicle you should put a carpet or mat without lying directly on snow.
Use traction aids
You can use traction aids like snow chains, sand ladders/max-trax or even carpets or mats under your wheels to increase the grip and pull out.
Reducing tire pressure
As you know reducing tire pressure will increase the tire footprint and increase the traction.
You can reduce the tire pressure for about 8psi. But keep in mind to re-inflate them before hitting the highway/pavement.
If things go serious and you can’t take out your vehicle with above techniques you have to get the help of another vehicle.
Use tow ropes or straps that comply with your vehicle’s weight and rated recovery points for this purpose. Don’t try to use tow balls for this purpose.
After attaching straps with rated recovery points properly drive the recovery vehicle until straps get tight and then stop.
Then slowly spin the wheels of your vehicle to the recovering direction and ask the recovery vehicle to pull gently.
If you don’t have a recovery vehicle near you , you have to search for an anchor point.
If you are lucky enough to find an anchor point you can use your winch and pull out your vehicle from the stucked place.
Most of the time there may be no anchor points in a suitable manner. So you can check our winching guide.
There I had discussed best winching techniques that can be used in some difficult instances.
I hope you get an overall knowledge on how to do snow off-roading. If you like to share us with your snow off-roading experiences add those in the comment section.
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Have fun and safe off-roading !!