In recent years we have seen the popularity of 4×4 vehicles, as well as sport utility vehicles (SUV’s), all-wheel drives (AWD’s) and ‘cross overs’ increase.
It’s likely that any time you go out on the roads driving, you will see one of the above.
The fact is, 4x4s are popular for a reason.
Sure, they can be used for driving on tough, off-road terrain but the host of other advantages they bring to the party means that they appeal to all sorts of different people.
In recent years, 4x4s have also been slammed by critics as damaging to the environment; the hypothesis being that the heavier the car, the more energy it takes to move it.
While that may be true, newer 4x4s are often better for the environment than some cars less than half their size.
So, if you’ve decided that a 4×4 vehicle is the way to go and you’re ready to join the thousands of motorists driving one on the UK roads, what do you need to know?
Well, mastering a 4×4 is probably easier than you think.
As long as you aware of what your vehicle is capable of, was designed for and the things to keep in mind when driving, you can master driving one in no time.
As we jump in to this guide, it’s important to be aware of the following:
The Type Of 4×4 Vehicle Do You Have:
Is it permanently 4×4, or can you switch between the 4×4 mode and 2WD modes?
If you don’t know, ask the showroom who sold it to you or take it to a professional to inspect.
Where You Will Be Driving It:
Mud, hills, or through water? Or possibly just city driving from a higher vantage point?
Consider where you will be using your 4×4.
How To Engage & Disengage Your 4WD System:
If you can switch out of 4×4 mode, make sure you know how to do so before driving anywhere.
Once you’re familiar with your 4×4 and how you can turn it in and out of 4WD mode, if applicable, you’re ready to begin trying to master driving it.
Our guide is going to take you through some of the specifics of driving your 4×4 in different scenarios and conditions, as well as teaching you some other important information.
We will look at:
From getting stuck in thick mud to driving on ice, we will give you a step-by-step guide to each scenario, giving you some initial knowledge to help you master driving your 4×4.
Caring For Your 4×4 Vehicle:
In our ‘Useful Information’ section below, we will tell you some vital information that will help keep your 4×4 mechanics in perfect working order.
When To Use Your 4×4 Vehicle:
If you need a little guidance as to when it is recommended that you should use 4×4, we will give you these tips.
To keep things consistent, our guide will be broken down in to our usual, easy-to-follow, format, making mastering your 4×4 nice and easy.
The sections are as follows:
We’ve split our step-by-step guide for this one down in to bite-size guides specific to driving your 4×4 in different driving scenarios.
Driving Your 4×4 In Deep Ruts:
Driving Your 4×4 Out Of Thick Mud:
Driving Your 4×4 On A Steep Hill (Hill Climbing):
Driving Your 4×4 Through Water:
Driving Your 4×4 In Snow:
Please Note: Unfortunately there aren’t any 4×4 tutorial videos available for UK audiences so we decided to use this Australian video as the tips provided are still relevant. If you know of a 4×4 training video which is suitable for a UK audience, please let us know. Alternatively, stay tuned as we will be creating our own in the foreseeable future.
We’ve put some tips in the above step-by-step guides which will help in specific driving conditions but if you have a 4×4 which can be switched out of that mode and in to 2WD, for example, when should you be using the 4WD option?
Here’s a few hints and tips as to when using 4×4 is recommended:
If you need more torque for towing heavy objects, such as caravans or machinery, then a 4×4 is a great way of delivering that required power.
Driving On A Steep Grade At Slow Speed:
If you need to climb a steep hill and are doing so at a slow speed (i.e. not on motorway or other fast road), then a 4×4 can be a perfect option.
Descending Steep Hills:
Similarly, using 4×4 in a low gear can be perfect for descending steep grade hills as it gives the vehicle greater grip and control.
If your 4×4 has other driving modes, it can be easy to almost forget that you have the 4WD option available at your disposal.
This can create a problem though as the longer it goes unused, the mechanics are more likely to be poorly maintained.
If left for months unused, lubricant dries off on the gears, seals dry out and the hub components can seize up completely.
Therefore, it’s a case of ‘use it or lose it’.
Also, take the time to have your 4×4 serviced every 12 months by a specialist mechanic.
Driving a 4×4 can be a great fun as well as incredibly convenient.
They don’t have to be more expensive to run, more damaging to the environment or more likely to cause an accident.
The key is knowing your vehicle and taking the time to learn about its capabilities.
Taking your time to do this and then practicing driving it in each of the scenarios covered in this guide will enable you to soon master your 4×4 vehicle and enable you to have a great time behind the wheel.