Taking your crossover cars or SUVs off-road feels like getting back to nature. With mud beneath your tyres and uneven terrain before you, you can be a conqueror of old, reclaiming the wilds for yourself. Don’t let that confidence make you a poor prepper, though.

When you’re getting ready to head off-road for the first time, you’ll have to consider a number of factors that may not have occurred to you before – off-road car maintenance, modifications, and mud-friendly driving styles, to name a few.

offroad car in a mud

As such, use the following tips and make sure that your first trip into the wilds goes as smoothly as possible.

Take your friends

Road trips are made all the better by the company of friends. Not only that, though, but the presence of friends while you’re off-roading ensures that you stay a little bit safer while exploring the wilderness. Going off-roading with people who have experience in the terrain you’re exploring makes it easier for you to learn how to navigate an unfamiliar environment – though the ribbing you get may smart a little.

If you end up in a bit of trouble, too, either dead rolling in the mud or something more serious, you can reach out to your friends and get your car back to peak condition without too much struggle. Arrange a caravan or just have some mates in the backseat. Either way, your trip will be more fun and a little bit safer.

a womani taking pictures in offroad car

Plan your route in advance

On a similar note: your friends will be able to tell you where to off-road most easily, helping you plan your first off-roading experience ahead of time. Naturally, you can’t just opt to off-road wherever you please – not without risking the involvement of local law enforcement.

As such, you’ll need to explore the facilities or off-road locations open near you and plan your day ahead of time. If you’re prepping to head out off-roading for the first time, think about heading to either the Yorkshire Dales or Crowcombe in Quantock Hills.

The Yorkshire Dales has an off-road track that is 17.5 miles in length and just challenging enough to let first timers find their feet. It’s worth noting though that entry for 4x4 cars on this track is limited.

view on hills and trees

Alternatively, there is Crowcombe in Quantock Hills - a bit longer route of 23 miles. You’ll be greeted with beautiful views and a challenging ride that’ll grab your attention and refuse to let go.

Prep your car

You’ll also want to ensure that your car is able to handle your off-roading adventure. Practise driving on nearby gravel roads in order to learn how your car initially responds to environments that haven’t been landscaped. 

You should also ensure that your car’s upkeep has been recently checked and okay-ed for general use. The last thing you want is to head out onto the trails with your engine light on. What does prepping your car look like? Keep in mind the following:

Gain altitude

How much clearance does your car have when you drive it down an average street? If there isn’t much space between you and the asphalt, you’ll want to lift your 4x4 before hitting the trails.

white jeep

Install off-road tyres

Similarly, the car tyres that you use every day aren’t going to cut it in mud, gravel, and green in the long-term. After you lift your car, you’ll have a better understanding of the size of tyre with which you’ll need to replace your street tyres. 

The larger and wider the tyre you install is, the better it’ll interact with the trails you ride on. Check out the size you need and mount appropriate 4x4 tyres before you go off-road. 

Cool down safely

You’ll also want to ensure that you’ve recently replaced your coolant and gotten your radiator checked over by a professional. When you take your 4x4 out on the trails, you’ll be running it and all of its parts through their paces. The last thing you want is overheating your radiator.

One way to protect your car from overheating is to invest in an aftermarket radiator or a radiator specially-made to support a car that goes off-roading. So long as you plan ahead and speak with a knowledgeable mechanic, you’ll be able to integrate a new radiator into your car’s infrastructure with no problem at all, thereby eliminating the risk of blowing out an essential mechanical feature while exploring the wilderness.

offroad route

Get ready and enjoy the ride

In short: be smart about your first time off-roading. Check in with your friends, perform a visual inspection of your car, and plan your trip in advance. Do not push yourself to take on the most challenging trip ever. You can work your way up to muddier off-roading trips in the future. Everyone has to start somewhere, after all. Good luck and have a great time!