What to Look For in an Off Road Vehicle

Choosing the right vehicle to start your off roading adventure can be overwhelming. And if you aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place.

Auto manufacturers love to show off their vehicles’ offroad capabilities to make you believe that their vehicle is the most capable one out there. But how do you know if what they are saying is true or relevant to your offroad needs?

You have to have reliable information that you can use to judge a vehicle’s offroad capabilities. We will tell you what you need to look for when on the hunt for an offroad vehicle.

Getting Started: Off Roading Lingo

Before we get into the details, let’s talk about some terms you need to know when looking at vehicles.

All-Wheel or Four-Wheel Drive

Any vehicle that you want to take off roading should be all- or four-wheel drive. So what is the difference between all-wheel and four-wheel drive?

All-wheel drive is always active, meaning that power is always going to all four wheels (based on need). Four-wheel drive can be turned off and switched to two-wheel drive when you don’t require extra traction.

Some vehicles have what are called four-high and four-low gears. You would use four-high for everyday driving and four-low when you need extra traction control.

Approach, Departure, and Breakover Angles

A few other important terms to know are approach angles, departure angles, and breakover angles. These measurements on the vehicle affect how steep an obstacle the vehicle can descend, climb, or traverse and not scrape the front or rear bumpers or underneath. Remember, the greater the angle, the better.

What Features Should You Look For in an Off Road Vehicle?

Now let’s get into the good stuff! Here are the performance features you want to look for when purchasing your off-roading vehicle.

1. Good Torque Output

What is torque? Good question. Horsepower is the ability of the engine to work over a certain distance for a certain period of time. Torque is the twisting power of the engine. The higher the torque (which is typically listed in foot-pounds), the better. This is because the higher the number, the better chance you have of getting up a mountain or out of a mud hole. You also need to remember, the torque output is influenced by the grip of the tires and the ground as well.

2. High Ground Clearance

If you are spending a lot of time using your vehicle offroad, you will want to focus on models with a higher ground clearance than a standard model. If you don’t have enough ground clearance, you could cause severe damage to the underbody when you are climbing over rocks, stumps, and boulders.

3. Locking Differential

Most vehicles have open differentials, which means that the wheel with the least amount of traction gets the most power. When off-roading, you want the wheel with the most traction to get the most power.

A locking differential locks the two wheels and the axles together, making sure they spin at the same speed and receive the same amount of torque.  

4. Low Range Transfer Case

A low-range transfer case increases torque and allows you to traverse obstacles easier. When used with a low first gear, or “granny gear,” you can traverse a steep grade and not even touch the gas pedal. 

Tips for Your First Off-Road Adventure

Once you’ve purchased your first 4X4 vehicle, it’s time to start your adventures. Since you are new, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Know your new vehicle: Your new vehicle comes with systems that play specific roles when off-roading. Before you head out, make sure you know what each system does and how to use them.
  • Get the proper equipment: Depending on what type of road you will be on, you may need to change your tires. Make sure you have a set that can be used on the common types of surfaces and terrains. And even though it may seem pricey, install a reliable lift kit. You will also want to check your bumpers to make sure your vehicle will be protected from trees, rocks, and other obstacles you may encounter.
  • Be prepared for anything: Always be prepared for the worst-case scenario. You should have a basic first-aid kit, a seat-belt cutter, and a glass breaker, and you should always keep a fire extinguisher in the cab.

Mach1 Motorsports Gets You Trail-Ready

Once you find that perfect off road vehicle, it’s time to make it your own! When you are ready to improve its capability or make it feel unique and personal, Mach1 Motorsports is here. 

Mach1 Motorsports is your preferred source for diesel and off-road parts and repair. We service all makes and models, and our team focuses on providing high-quality service. And we will do everything we can to not only meet but exceed your expectations.

Schedule an appointment today, and let’s get you ready to hit the trails!

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