Most Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) owners use their vehicle for a safe commute in bad weather or when their job takes them to construction sites, farms, ranches or a remote job site. Those are all great uses for your 4WD vehicle, but a tough 4WD truck or high clearance SUV can be a lot of fun – if you’re willing to get a little mud on your fenders!

Before you try powering your way through an afternoon of off-roading, mud bogging or rock crawling, there are some things you should know. Any experienced off-road enthusiast will tell you the most important things about taking it off-road for any level of difficulty are knowledge and preparation. There’s a lot more to 4-wheeling than driving off the beaten path.

When it comes to knowledge, you need to know the terrain you will be driving through and the limits of your vehicle. When you watch a video of someone following muddy trails, crossing creek beds or blasting through snow fields, number one on those adventurists’ minds is safety, and that starts with knowing where you’re going. Study the area ahead of time so you know what to expect. How steep of grades will you encounter? If there are creek or river crossings, how deep is the water and how fast is the current? The more you know about the area, the more likely you will avoid surprises that may not end well.

Knowing what your vehicle is capable of is a must. What is the maximum ground clearance? Where is the air intake and computer module? Putting either of these under water can result in getting stranded or some expensive repairs. Do you have the proper tires for the terrain you’re tackling? The best 4WD truck in the world will be helpless if it has the wrong tires.

Once you know all about where you will be driving and what to expect, get prepared. Here is a basic list checklist to go over before heading out:

  • Full tank of fuel. Running out of gas in the middle of nowhere can turn a day of fun into a potential nightmare. Consider bringing extra fuel if you will be traveling a long distance.
  • Tow rope. Anytime you’re driving off-road there is a chance you may get stuck. A sturdy tow rope can get you out of some tough spots. If you aren’t traveling with someone in another vehicle, a bumper mounted winch is essential.
  • Portable air compressor. In some conditions it’s recommended to let at least 25% of the air out of the tires to increase the tires’ surface area and traction. If air is released, pumping the tires up to normal pressure is a must before returning to the road or hard surface.
  • Spare tire. When going off-road there is always a risk of getting a flat, especially when driving over rocks and gravel.
  • First aid kit. When taking it off-road you’re bound to encounter a variety of hazards from a bump on the head to a cut or broken bone. Be prepared for any possibility.
  • Shovels. Now and then off-roaders get stuck in places where even four-wheel drive can’t get them out and they have to resort to the old dependable shovel.

Most 4WD vehicles made for off-roading are built tough and can take a fair amount of abuse. But putting that kind of stress on manual transmissions, differentials and transfer cases will eventually take a toll. If you’re pushing it to the limit, sooner or later a bearing, gear or entire unit is bound to fail.

When that happens you want to be sure you have a supplier you can trust to repair, rebuild or replace those parts. That’s why you can turn to the experts at Zumbrota Bearing and Gear to get your 4WD jewel back into the wild. Our team of technicians at Zumbrota Bearing and Gear have years of experience and the latest in technology to keep your 4WD truck or SUV climbing, crawling and powering through the most challenging places you can find.

Contact Zumbrota Bearing and Gear when you need quality parts you can depend on.