At Auto Curators, as professional car detailers in Hampshire, we’ve had many vehicles delivered to us looking past their best. Returning them to delighted owners in a much happier (and shinier) state. But it’s only when I’ve been on 4-wheel driving and off-road adventures that I’ve witnessed how mucky a vehicle can get!
4-wheel driving is exhilarating! It merges the thrill of exploration with the joys of conquering challenging terrains. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about off-road adventuring, read on… Because this article is for you. But first, let me introduce you to a good friend and client, Matt Crozier, who knows much more about the subject than me!
4-Wheel Driving & Off-Road Adventures – An Interview with Matt Crozier:
Q: How did you become interested in 4WD driving, and what motivated you to pursue it?
A: I was introduced to 4-wheel driving through Pistonheads. A local sub-forum suggested a tour of Salisbury Plain (about an hour from my home), which seemed the perfect opportunity to buy a cheap offroader.
After that, it has become a great hobby, taking up a lot of the winter period when other forms of motorsport have stopped.
I tend to take friends up and show them around. Having familiarised myself with large parts of Salisbury Plain over many years, I can help others explore safely.
The skill in offroad driving is the opposite of track driving (another passion of mine). Slow speeds, technical lines, and knowing where and how to apply throttle is a great catharsis compared to maximising pace.
It’s also a relatively cheap form of ‘motorsport’. Any vehicle with 4-wheel drive can take part.
Vehicle Selection and Modification:
Q: What vehicle do you drive?
A: A Landrover Defender 90.
Q: What factors should people consider when choosing a vehicle for 4WD driving?
A: Much as in any form of motorsport, safety is prioritised. If you’re looking to challenge the vehicle, you should never travel alone; always take recovery gear and be educated on using it safely.
Vehicle modifications are very popular but ultimately not truly necessary. It’s amazing what a standard 4×4 can do.
Terrain and Challenges:
Q: Where do you do most of your 4WD driving?
A: Mainly Salisbury Plain, but I also enjoy ‘pay and play’ days in quarries.
Q: What types of terrains are typically encountered in 4WD driving, and how do they pose unique challenges?
A: Soft mud, rocks, and being the U.K., water! Water ingress is a real threat during the winter, so care must be taken.
Q: Can you share some insights into techniques for navigating through different terrains?
A: Soft mud requires an element of consistent momentum, a relaxed wheel grasp and a sharp throttle response to stop ‘bogging down’.
Sand has similar properties but requires much more momentum and thus throttle application.
Rocks are all about tyre placement. Ensuring the vehicle’s underside does not become beached or damaged by protruding rock faces. The slower the car can manage, the better, and care should be taken about hand placement on the steering wheel. Wrist and finger injury can occur!
Snow requires smooth application of all controls and forethought to what may occur next. Planning is paramount, with extra allowances for braking distances and steering delay.
Preparation and Safety:
Q: What are the key safety considerations when engaging in 4WD driving?
A: You could get stuck. Firstly who knows you’re out and where? Never go alone, so recovery gear is a must. Self-recovery can be lethal, so education on how to attach and where is sensible. Water is hazardous, so planning and surveying a route before attempting it in a vehicle is recommended.
A daisy chain of cars rescues the swamped Defender!
Q: How should drivers prepare their vehicles and themselves before embarking on a 4WD adventure?
A: Be fully aware of your own and your vehicle’s limitations. Only attempt what you’re comfortable doing. Ensure the car is mechanically ready, and you’re happy with all the controls and functions. Take safety gear and adequate First Aid. Consider taking some food and water if going out for a slightly more extreme adventure.
Environmental Impact and Ethical Considerations:
Q: How can 4WD enthusiasts minimise their impact on the environment while enjoying off-road experiences?
A: Stick to open Byways (BOATS-Byways Open to All Traffic). There are many mapping apps and websites that show their location. Respect the TRO (Traffic Regulation Orders) that councils may place on byways that have seen excess wear or traffic.
Be aware of any leaks from your vehicle and ensure any fuels are stored safely and in the correct type of containers.
Q: Are there specific guidelines or codes of conduct that responsible 4WD drivers should follow?
A: Many national and local groups aim to ensure there is a sustainable attitude towards off-road vehicles.
Green Lane Association is a great starting point as it gives access to an app designed especially for off-road driving.
Learning and Community:
Q: Are there resources, courses, or organisations that individuals interested in 4WD driving can tap into for learning and networking?
A: Pay-and-play organised events are run by companies with the necessary health and safety in place. They’re a perfect place to try the limitations of your vehicle safely.
Q: How can someone new to 4WD driving connect with experienced drivers to learn and gain confidence?
A: Facebook and organised events are perfect places to meet and learn from like-minded people.
Memorable Experiences and Advice:
Q: Could you share your most memorable 4WD adventure or experience?
A: Every time we go out with a group of friends who have not been before, it’s great to see them realise how capable standard cars are. Also, the scenery is very special.
Q: What advice would you give to newcomers?
A: Do it! 4-wheel driving puts to use underused cars. Be responsible, set limits and go exploring!
We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out more about 4-wheel driving. And if you have a motoring subject, you’d like covered in our ‘News & Articles’ section, do get in touch. If we don’t know about it, we will surely know someone that does!