ByEldon De CroosAugust 1, 2011

Ten top tips on how to keep the shiny side up when driving steep rocky slopes

Driving up or down steep rocky slopes can be one of the most heart-in-mouth four-wheel driving experiences, particularly in really mountainous country, where one foot wrong could see you sliding off into a precipice. By the same token, the sense of achievement in conquering your own fears and the torture track is extremely satisfying, and really, there’s nothing to it if you follow a few rules…

1.       Never race at a steep rocky track – you run a very real risk of damaging your vehicle.

2.       Put the vehicle into low range. If the surface of the track is scrabbly, select second gear, not first.

3.       Keep the wheels on the high ground at all times where possible – this avoids high-centering, meaning getting the vehicle caught up on projecting rocks.

4.       Use a steady throttle pressure; keep everything smooth.

5.       If your tyres are scrabbling, lower pressures to around 18psi – this will increase the contact patch of the tyre with the track surface and improve traction.

6.       On lowered pressures, try to avoid dropping wheels into fissures between boulders – you can break the bead or pinch the tyre: result, a flat.

7.       Always carry a 12V air compressor to reinflate tyres when the worst is over.

8.       When descending steep slopes, always use first gear low range and as much as possible, stay off the brakes. If you do have to use the brakes to prevent runaway, use gentle foot pressure, or feather your braking. Never jam on the brakes; this can create wheel lockup and loss of both grip and steering.

9.       If travelling in convoy, always let the vehicle in front of you complete the climb or descent before you set off.

10.   Never panic.

So there you have it. Have fun!

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