Off-Road Driving For Beginners And Advanced Drivers

The SUV and pure off-road vehicle segment has been growing in popularity for years. All these vehicles are characterised by their comparatively long wheelbase and generally have a permanent or at least switchable all-wheel drive. That’s the perfect setup for moving forward, even when the paved roads are behind you. But to have control at all times on soft and loose surfaces, such as gravel and loose stone, and even rocky terrain, off-road beginners in particular, should always observe a few basic rules. After all, unlike on public roads, there is no breakdown service in the forest to get damaged vehicles running again within a short period of time.

Off-road operations are traditionally a main focus of General Tire. The tyre brand is regarded as an expert in 4×4. “Automotive manufacturers know that hardly any of their vehicles ever drive off the road,” explains Matthias Bartz, Business Development Manager at General Tire. “ SUVs are increasingly being fitted almost exclusively with purely on-road tyres at the factory, even true for off-road vehicles and pickups. The problem is that these tyres aren’t sufficiently damage-resistant, and they also can’t interlock sufficiently with loose surfaces.” So, if you are also planning off-road driving, you will need to replace your tyres. Well-known manufacturers such as General Tire have all-terrain tyres in their product line that offer balanced performance both on and off the road. “Special off-road products like the Grabber AT3 meet the everyday requirements of modern SUVs, pick-up trucks and off-road vehicles, with the advantage of an excellent drive and braking forces transmission even on loose ground, thanks to the numerous grip edges on the tread pattern design that interlock with all kind of terrains” adds Angélica Cáceres, 4×4 Product Manager at Continental Tyres.

If you want to avoid missing the adventure of driving off-road under extreme conditions, you should consider using specialist off-road tyres. “These tyres are designed primarily for use on unpaved terrain,” says Bartz. “A true mud terrain tyre even delivers performance in deep, muddy ground and, with its stable and solid tread blocks design, protects against damage to the sidewall which occurs when in contact with obstacles on the track.”

To ensure optimum traction off the road, Matthias Bartz recommends adjusting the tyre pressure to the applicable situation: “The information provided by vehicle manufacturers in the operating manuals assume you are driving on the road. In rough terrain, contact with the ground improves when the tyre pressure is reduced by around 10 percent. This will increase the contact area and grip. On sand, a reduction of 25 to 40 percent is well advised. On very soft surfaces, the tyre pressure can even be reduced by up to 50 percent compared with the manufacturer’s specifications.”

General Tire: Know-How Beyond Tyres

Due to their rich history in the off-road industry, General Tire’s expertise goes well beyond the area of tyres. “If your vehicle is stuck in the mud, it’s time to keep calm. Some simple tricks can usually help you continue your journey,” advises Bartz . “Anything that helps the tyres build up traction is useful. For example, you can try to remove the mud in front of the wheels with a shovel. Or you can put car floor mats under your wheels. If absolutely necessary, you can even use sticks. Alternatively, you can try to interlock the side walls of the tyres using careful lateral steering movements.”

In the worst-case scenario, you should always also have salvage equipment in the vehicle. That includes gloves, cable winches, straps, or chains as well as a shovel, axe, and tree protection. “Straps can be fastened to recovery points with cable winches,” says Bartz. “To do this, always make sure that the tree is sufficiently stable and that the strap does not damage the trunk.” For vehicles without a cable winch, Bartz advises against using a jack: “Using a jack can be very dangerous in off-road terrain unless you have experience with it. In addition, a stable baseplate is essential.” Lifting bags are a somewhat unknown alternative – they are large PVC bags filled with air from the exhaust that can lift the vehicle up quickly to get it back on track. They are expensive, but lightweight, easy to stow and easy to handle.

Dave Dineen, Head of the Specialist Division for Micheldever Tyre Services says “For over twenty-five years, we as a business have helped develop product patterns and niche fitments with General Tire. Listening to the needs and requirements of our customers and the end consumer has assisted in creating a range of 4×4 tyres which are market leading”. Dave continues “The partnership between MTS & General Tire has helped develop even more new niche fitments, which will be introduced over the next 12 months, further reinforcing both companies’ dedication to developing this important segment”.