Going on an off-road trip is an experience that’s one for the books. However, if you’re driving an off-road vehicle for the first time, you might simply treat it as a regular road trip as if you’re using a standard vehicle to drive around town. But off-road vehicles are different from classic vehicles because of their limits, tires, gearbox, brakes, and routine maintenance checks. Before going on a trip, here are things that you should remember.

1. Know Your Limits

Although off-road vehicles are made for extreme terrain outdoors, they also have their limits. Driving a small-engined vehicle on any serious terrain and a four-speed automatic for a powertrain is inappropriate. It’s essential to know your vehicle’s limits before going off-road to ensure the safety of passengers and the vehicle as well.

First, you need to know how much ground clearance you have. If it’s too low, chances are it’s not meant for rocky terrain, which has varying sizes for stones and rocks. If it’s at a higher level, it might be good enough to cross shallow rivers and lakes. Tackling tall terrain features with a low-riding base will lead to cracks in the vehicle’s oil pan, differentials, and gearbox. Any issues along the road may leave your ride sitting in the middle of nowhere.

2. Check the Tires

Maintaining tire quality is essential for longer trips. Although off-road vehicles are equipped with heavy-duty tires, you should still double-check them before leaving. Take a look at all the tires and observe any objects stuck in the cracks or gouges. It’s common for off-road vehicles to encounter sharp objects along the road, such as nails or pointy rocks. Make sure nothing is stuck on the rubber that may cause the tire to explode while on the road.

Ensure that all the lug nuts are tightened, doing the same even for the spare ones. Most importantly, check if the spare tire doesn’t have any damage. It will be your lifeline in case a switch is needed on the road.

3. Check the Gearbox

It’s common for off-road vehicles to overheat at times. Since the machine is working too hard due to the uneven surfaces, it travels on and produces too much heat, which may cause the vehicle to stop suddenly.

However, there is no need to panic. It’s important to keep spare tubes of lubricant before going on a trip to ensure that when a similar scenario happens to you, you’ll know exactly what to do. It also helps to change the fluid in the gearbox even before going on the trip. 

4. Check Your Brakes

Never forget to check the pads, calipers, and brake lines. If the pads get too thin, then they better be replaced before going back on the road. Meanwhile, check the calipers for any cracks and other signs of damage. It’s also helpful to inspect all the lines leading to the breaks on all four wheels for safety measures.

5. Do a Routine Maintenance Check

Off-road vehicles work twice as much as regular vehicles. Therefore, they require more frequent maintenance checks. If you’re a first-time off-road vehicle owner, it’s best to take it to a seasoned mechanic for its first few maintenance checks. From there, you can learn the basics. Once that all works out, you can start doing the routine maintenance checks yourself.


Driving an off-road vehicle is both fulfilling and fun to do. However, these vehicles come with specific requirements, which may not be expected for drivers who have only driven regular cars in the past. But learning how the machine works and when it needs more attention is a quick learning experience anyone could try.

If you’re particular about getting your hands dirty, hiring professional mechanics might be the best option for you. Hoover Automotive is a premier automotive company that offers comprehensive auto repair in Hoover, AL. We are dedicated to providing quick repairs and replacements for Asian imports as well as German and domestic vehicles. Contact us to request a service.

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