We all want our 4WDs to perform better offroad and there are a lot of things that can be done to help make that happen. Here are our Top 5 with a bonus one at the end!
Tyres are what connect us to the ground so logically they are one of the most important aspects to getting further offroad. A good offroad tyre is going to provide traction in even the harshest of environments, when you lose traction you lose forward motion and that often results in you being “stuck”. Realistically, we could do an entire post on just how to choose the right tyre for you but here is a rough guide;
All Terrain - If you spend most of your time on the road with a small amount of time heading to the beach, driving on gravel roads or heading to campsites these are probably going to be the class of tyre for you.
Rugged Terrain - These are a newer class on the market but they are great for those that want to do a lot of touring into remote parts of Australia. They tend to offer good on and offroad performance and work well on beach, rock, and sand. Rugged terrain tyres also tend to offer much better clearing capabilities in the tread so will perform better than All terrains in the mud.
Mud Terrain - Mud terrain tyres used to be the go to for most offroaders but now tend to be the focus mainly for those that do hardcore touring or competitions. They tend to be noisy, have a shorter life, due to softer rubber and can be pretty average on the road in wet conditions.
There are a lot of other things to consider with tyres too, like size, construction and brands. But undoubtedly if you move from a factory tyre to something aftermarket, you will help the vehicles offroad performance.
Suspension lifts have a number of impacts on the vehicle, most of them good, but like everything, they do have some downsides. A good quality suspension lift will not only change the ride height of your 4WD but will also help improve wheel travel and articulation. These improvements mean that it is easier to keep your tyres on the ground and therefore keep traction. The added benefit is that you also gain additional clearance to fit larger wheels and tyres.
The downsides of a suspension lift most commonly occur when a lift is not correctly spec’d for how you are going to be using the vehicle.
A lift increases your centre of gravity and therefore increases the chance of rolling over.
It can add additional stress to components of your vehicle if they are not also upgraded or set up to deal with that amount of additional travel. The most common one is that it increases the chance of breaking a CV joint or the like.
Now this one might be considered controversial but we all agree that is an important part of helping offroad performance for a number of reasons, other than aesthetics. The biggest advantage to adding barwork to a lot of vehicles is that it will substantially improve your approach and departure angles. This means that you can get in and out of tight spots with greater ease.
The second advantage is that they add a level of protection to your vehicle that helps you avoid panel damage and other substantial more expensive repairs. This obviously saves you money in the long run but it also gives you a little bit of additional confidence that you can drive some tougher tracks without. This confidence, as long as it is kept in check, can help you and your vehicle drive better lines and get through tougher obstacles.
Diff locks offer massive performance upgrades for your vehicle offroad. As we have mentioned earlier, traction is one of the key components to getting places in a 4WD and dif locks can massively help. What you may or may not know about your 4 wheel drive is that as soon as one of your wheels has less traction than the others, your vehicle is no longer 4WD. Because of how a diff works (below is an in-depth video if you haven't looked into it before) as soon as one wheel loses traction, all the power is pushed to that wheel. All of a sudden you have a 1 wheel drive and it is the one wheel that is up in the air.
When a diff lock is installed and active it will ensure that power is pushed evenly to both wheels connected to that diff. So even if one is up in the air the other will still have traction and power ensuring you can continue your forward momentum.
A snorkel (or raised air intake) offers 4WDs a massive number of advantages. They are most well known for allowing you to ford deep water and keep water out of your airbox. What they are less known for is increasing fuel economy and improving performance.
A snorkel, particularly one with an air-ram head, like the Safari Snorkels, helps the engine to get cleaner, cooler air and a lot more of it. This additional cool air means that your engine runs cooler and when your engine runs cooler you get better performance.
In the offroad capacity, the higher intake also means that you are less likely to fill your air filter with dirt and dust and even when not moving at speed you will be able to get cooler air to the engine than if you had the intake in the engine bay like many 4WDs do.
Honestly, the biggest thing that impacts offroad performance is your capability and knowledge of your vehicle and how to deal with the terrain around you. We see it all the time where an experienced driver in a stock vehicle can take their 4WD just as far, if not further than someone that has all the gear but never spent much time getting to know it.
Whether you are new to 4WDing, just getting back into it or have been doing it for years, there is always going to be something to learn from a good driver training course.
Let us know in the comments below if you think there is anything we have missed or something you want more detail on. Alternatively, use the contact us page to get in touch and ask some questions of our experienced staff.