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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well since we have a lot of new people to the whole off roading experience and some of us are still rather new to it I thought that this would be a great way to introduce them to our little world. I've included some of the many things that I have learned along the way. IF you have any please feel free to add them to this topic. These are just a few of the ones that I have learned along the way. I'll post some more later on.

Before you go check the following.

Engine oil
Tansmission fluid
Brake fluid
Hydraulic-clutch fluid
T-case oil
Diff oil
Power steering fluid
Grease all driveshafts, U-joints and steering joints.
All lights and turn signals.
Winshield washer fluid
Radiator fluid level
Tire pressure and look for leaks or gashes
Tow hooks front and rear
Tell someone where you are going and when you'll be back.
Check for loose parts i.e. lug nuts, driveshafts, engine and tranny mounts, suspension joints and U-bolts.
Inspection sticker up to date. :D

Spare parts:
Tie-rod end
Engine belts
front and rear axleshafts
Front axle U-joints
Driveshaft U-joints
Spare tire (same size as others currently on truck)
Spare locking hub or set of drive flanges
Spare bolts of common sizes found on truck
Fuses for your truck
Radiator hose
Electrical crimp tape
Valve cores
Lug nuts

Power-steering fluid
Brake fluid
Automatic tranny fluid
Foram a gasket or RTV silicone
Gear oil


Screw drivers
Wrenchs both standard and metric
Socket set both standard and metric
Adjustable wrenches
Allen wrenches
Eletrical tape
Duct Tape
Misc tools

Recovery gear:
Winch control
Shackle or two
Spare cable (especially if you see yourself doing really long winch pulls)
Chain (grade 70)
Snatch block
Hi-lift type jack
Pull-Pal recovery anchor
Tree protector
Snatch straps
Winch bag
Old blanket or something similar to cover the tow strap or winch line to keep it from causing injury or damage should it break.

When troubleshooting for the cause of a blown fues, try conneting a light across the fuse terminals rather then installing a fresh fuse. If it takes awhile to find the short, you could go through a lot of fuses. However, if you use the light bulb technique, the light will simply illuminate until the short is repaired and the flow of current is halted. If the short is intermittent, you may find that the light flickers, when the bundle of wires is wiggled, giving a clue to the location of the short. If the light is not visible from where you are working, try using a buzzer.

Over time, grit from water crossings and desert dust blasting wil cause premature wear to alternators, especially those mounted low in the engine compartment. To extend the life of your alternator, use an electrical cleaner, available at most auto part stores, to clean the alternator after each off road outing. It takes only a couple of seconds, but it could add years to teh alternator's life.

Before installing a new oil filter fill it first, if possble, so that the engine will have oil pressure immediately upon start up. Of course, if the oil filter is mounted horizontally, you will not be able to do this.

Momentum, not speed, will get you you up ledges and hills and through deep mud holes. Knowing the amount of momentum needed without going too fast depends on the obstacle. This knwledge is priceless, and it comes only with experience. When you are in doubt, watch someoen else and learn from them.

Hills should be approached as straight on as possible. Keep all tires on teh ground by going only as fast as needed. Maintain foward momentum with steady throttle. Reduce pwer if your 4x4 spins the tires excessively, starts getting sideways, or beings to wheelie over backwards. Do not hit the brakes if you think you are wheeling over.

When backing down a steep hill especially if your truck has ABS, it's sometimes better to use the automatic transmission then brakes. Keep the truck in drive and let the vehicle freewheel backward, tehn apply throttle when you wish to slow down. This also works when driving in forward and descending steeps hills, except you'll want to place the tranny in reverse.

If the engine stalls and the tail pipe is submerged during a deep water crossing, don't try to restart the engine. As a precaution, have a buddy pull your vehicle back onto dry land. There you should remove the spark plugs before turning over the engine. Water doesnt' compress and if you crank over the engine when a cylinder is full of water, servere engine damage will result. With the spark plugs out, turn the engine over a few times and water will be ejected without danage. Also check the oil and air filter before continuing.

When winching, place an old jacket, blanket or towel over the cable closest to the vehicle you are recovering. If the winch cable breaks or comes loose from the anchor point while under tension, it can fly back into the winch vehicle as high speeds. However, with an object such as a blanket on the line, it will be slowed dramatically and will be less likely to whip back and hurt someone. Never stand near the cable. The same applies for tow straps.

The pulling power of a winch can be doubled by doing a double line pull. You'll need a winch accessory kit to do this. The cable is run frm the winch out to an anchor point, where it will pass through a pulley and back to the vehicle. This will double the pulling power of the winch but will cut the speed that the vehicle is moved by half.

The pulling power of a winch can also be tripled by doing a triple line pull. This is done almost the same way with the double pull except that you use an additional pulley which is located on the truck itself. You route the cable to the first pulley like in the doubl line pull then back to the truck where it gets sent through that pulley then back to the D-ring that is holding the first pulley and tree saver. The mechanical advantage of two pulleys doubles the puling power as well as halves the effective recovery spped. While effective, this method should be used carefully as twice as much stress is placed on all mounting points.

If you get stuck in the mud wthout a winch, wrap a tow strap around the tire closest to the direction you want to go and attach the other end around a nearby tree, 4x4, or other heavy object. Bring the strap out from the bottom of the tire. Leave a little slack and gently start to drive in the direction you tied yourself to. This slowly wraps the tow strap around the tire and makes a makeshift winch. Just be very careful not to get it caught on anything underneath your vehicle. Don't use much, if any, throttle, when doing this. This works great in mud, but your truck must be lined up straight with the tow strap and the anchor point.

If you're stuck in the mud wtihout a winch or anything to hook a winch to, put your rig into reverse adn expose some of the rut in front of your tires. Once you have a portion of clear track, pour a bag of Kitty Litter into the ruts. The water from the mud will mix with the kitty litter and dry into a miniature concrete slab, which might give you enough grip to get out.

It's best to shift into 4wd prior to becoming stuck. Sometimes after you get stuck, it's difficult to get 4wd to engage if the rig isn't able to move slightly. (This of-course doesn't apply to the Next Gen X's as we are able to shift into 4wd sitting still. :la: ). Plus, if you're only in 2wd you might be tempted to drive faster to make it through rough sections. Bashing through these sections put unnecessary strain on the vehicle as well as tearing up the trail.

When driving over rough terrain, it is sometimes difficult to hold your throttle foot steady enough to prevent having a bouncy foot on the accelerator. To prevent this problem, press the side of your foot against the tranny hump. This will create enough friction to allow for good throttle control.

Don't let anyone attempt to pull your badly stuck truck from to great of an angle. Frame damge can occur if they have to snatch hard. The steering system can also be easily damaged if the vehicle is pulled in this manner. The same goes for winching at great angles.

When fording deep water, enter slowly, and then gain a fewe miles per hour of extra speed. Back off the throttle slightly and then retain the original speed. This will creat a bow wave in front of you and dramatically lower the water level in front of your truck. This minimizes the risk of water drowning the engine. Apply the brakes once out to dry them so they will be ready when needed.

When driving off road, hold the steering wheel with your thumbs out. So if the front tire hits an on trail obstacle it is possible for the impact of the front wheel to jerk the steering wheel from your hands. If you have your thumbs to the inside, a spoke could wack them, causing unneeded pain or worse. By keeping them on the outside of the wheel, you'll reduce the risk of getting a broken thumb from a steering wheel spoke.

Reseating a tire bead on the trail is always tricky after a tire repair. A nylon, winch type, hold down strap can be a lifesaver. One can be placed around the center of the tread and tightened to reseat the bead. Ensure that the bead adn rim are free of mud and other debris. Also another way but more risky is lighter fluid and a match.

Tow straps are ver important but carry both a short and long one. Always get a strap that are rated for at least twice your vehicle weight. Remember that you might have to pull a friend's vehicle that is heavier the yours and always buy one without the metal hooks.

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Nice Dan! One more thing that is never repeated enough. Always wheel with a buddy.

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Reseating a tire bead on the trail is always tricky after a tire repair. A nylon, winch type, hold down strap can be a lifesaver. One can be placed around the center of the tread and tightened to reseat the bead. Ensure that the bead adn rim are free of mud and other debris. Also another way but more risky is lighter fluid and a match.
Actually that must be the safe way, I use starting fluid! I put air to tire with locking chuck, fill tire with good amount of Starting fluid. Squirt a path accross tire and about ten feet away on ground, Stop, light the path of fluid, it quickly travels to the tire explodes the beads onto the rim and the pumping air makes it catch.

Ahhh If it blows tire off the rim and inside out, you used too much starting fluid!

Amazing amount of tips Dan! Good reading.

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Re: 4 Wheelin Tips and tricks


Lots of good info... but the face def takes the cake.

The thumb tip came in handy when I wheeled this weekend. I was going through some muddy water and hit a rock under the surface I didn't see. Ripped the wheel right out of my hands and folded my drivers side mirror back on a tree. Luckily no damage was done to my X or my thumbs.

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Thought I would post up a Tread Lightly article about how to clean up spills should your rig bleed while out on the trail.

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How to Clean Up Toxic Spills Promptly, Thoroughly, When Driving Outdoors
By Tom Severin

We four-wheelers are naturally conscientious folks, and are always concerned about our impact on the environment. Unfortunately, we sometimes are faced with leaks and spills from our vehicles.

Engine oil, transmission oil, gear oil, brake fluid and radiator fluid can have a devastating effect on the environment and wildlife. Radiator fluid is particularly hazardous, as its sweet taste makes it attractive to mammals. Worse, it doesn’t take much to kill. One teaspoon of ethanol glycol will kill a cat; three tablespoons will put down a dog. I highly recommend you switch to a propylene-based radiator fluid like Sierra brand. If by chance you spill some and don’t get it cleaned up thoroughly, there’s less of a risk to native animals.

As with any exercise, planning and preparation are key. Essential clean-up items include a plastic container with a tight lid (Tupperware products work nicely), kitty litter, paper towels or rags, and a shovel. You probably already have paper or plastic cups in your vehicle. If not, grab some. High-tech absorbents and wipes are available for large oil spill situations and to wipe down rock surfaces. You may want to pick up some to help with those problems.

If you choose to build a spill kit, I highly recommend you include kitty litter. It is one of the most absorbent materials around. NewPig offers a variety of useful materials as well as complete spill kits.

Before dealing with any spill or leak, make sure that the vehicle is secure and that all passengers are safe.

First, catch any dripping liquid in a plastic container. Use a cup to scoop up pools of liquid. If need be, dam up the area to keep the spill from spreading. Use special absorbent rolls like the Pig Blue Socks, or build a mini earthen dike around the spill.

Next, spread kitty litter or other absorbent material to soak up the spill. Paper towels, rags, diapers, even a t-shirt or sweatshirt will do in an emergency.

You should also pack absorbents and wipes designed for oil spills. Two others that are particularly effective are PeatSorb and Oil-Dri. You may find these products locally, but look for a retailer who breaks down the bulk quantities and offers these materials in smaller units. You’ll save money by buying larger quantities and breaking them down for yourself and friends into individual spill kits.
PeatSorb is ideal because it is very effective on grease and oil spots (even on rock), and it is naturally decomposing.

Everything is hauled out. Proper clean up means that the spilled liquid and contaminated soils are removed for proper disposal. All material and soil should be collected in plastic bags; double-bag, if possible. Place the bags on the rubber floor mats in case there’s a leak. Gear oil, in particular, leaves a nasty smell in your carpet that is very difficult to remove. Remember to wipe down rocks with the proper absorbent pads available from PeatSorb and Oil-Dri.

Make sure the lid is secure on your container(s). You don’t want the fluids and kitty litter spilling all over the inside of your vehicle.

When you get home, dispose of the mess in the proper manner. Call your local authorities if you have any questions about how to handle this material. You may be able to use PeatSorb-treated soil. The manufacturer claims that the soil is safe to use for planting in three weeks.

Toxic spills are a potential with off-road driving. Quick action on your part, using ordinary household products, will ensure you leave the area as you found it.

Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach and Tread Lightly! Master Tread Trainer, teaches 4WD owners how to use their vehicles safely and confidently over difficult terrain in adverse conditions. Visit to develop or improve your driving skill.

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Try 20 psi first.
Bring a buddy, shovel, boards, a working jack, warm jacket and common sense!
You'll need a flag for the dunes, otherwise 2wd should be fine just near the shoreline.
It might look cool but NEVER drive fast through the surf and splash salt water everywhere.

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2005 Nissan Xterra OR
1,126 Posts
Try 20 psi first.
Bring a buddy, shovel, boards, a working jack, warm jacket and common sense!
You'll need a flag for the dunes, otherwise 2wd should be fine just near the shoreline.
Ah, Pismo. My hometown. I was going to hit it up thansgiving weekend but went to big falls instead.

Flags are just required for ATVs and Bikes. Not vehicles.

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