Fording through water in your 4WD truck may look easy enough to do; however, doing it successfully involves a lot of preparation and technique.
Driving into deeper water whether it’s moving or not can be extremely dangerous to both you and your truck.
To traverse deep water on the trail safely and without causing serious damage to your off-roader, pay attention to what you’re doing before, during, and after your water crossing.
Before You Cross - Preparation
Good preparation is the key to safe and successful water fording.
To ensure your truck and its bumpers are ready for the plunge and you know what you’re driving into, prepare before you bravely drive forth:
===> Get Your Truck Watertight - Never go into deeper water without first knowing your truck’s safe water fording depth. If you’re planning on crossing deep water, get set up in advance with the right gear including a snorkel, exhaust and drivetrain breather extensions, sealed caps, waterproof plugs, electrical caps, and everything else you may need to prevent the critical components on your truck from getting wet.
===> Walk The Crossing Point - The other thing you need to do is make sure you know what you are about to drive into. Walk the crossing from the starting side to the opposite side so you can gauge the bottom surface you’ll be driving on and test the water depth.
===> Test the Current - Be sure about how fast the water is moving; if it’s too strong for you to stand in, it’s too strong to cross in your truck.
===> Check The Banks - Make sure both sides of the bank are safe enough that you can drive them.
Basically, you want to avoid driving into trouble by knowing these critical details beforehand so you can make the right approach or choose a different point to cross, if necessary.
While You Are Crossing - Technique
Once you’ve prepped your truck for the crossing, inspected the water, and determined that it’s safe to cross, it’s time to get in and start your drive.
Follow these tips so you can cross with the least difficulty and lessen risk of encountering problems with your truck:
===> Always Move Upstream - If you’re crossing moving water, always travel against the current to the other side.
If you are moving with the current you are in danger of the water pushing your vehicle along and your bumpers scraping rocks in the water.
===> Drive Slowly - Like most other obstacles you’ll clear on the trail, water should be crossed at slow speeds.
You should move just fast enough to maintain good forward momentum while creating a slight bow of water in front of your truck.
Driving in 4WD low in second gear at 2000 RPM or less is usually ideal.
===> Don’t Stop - Once you’ve entered the water, don’t stop until you reach the other side.
If you stall out in the water, put your truck in neutral without pressing on the clutch so no water gets into the gears, then start it up in 1st gear, then shift to 2nd gear once you have things back under control.
If it won’t start up and there’s a possibility you’ve shorted something, you’ll need someone to pull you out which is why keeping that forward momentum is essential.
After You Cross - Maintenance
After celebrating a successful water crossing, you still have a few last minute things to do to ensure your truck does not suffer any damage and is safe to continue driving.
Get out of the truck and check all the critical components that were underwater, or could otherwise have been affected by water:
===> Check the Differential Oil - If you see water floating on the top or the oil comes out milky, it’s been contaminated.
If it has, the best recommendation is to drain your differential right where you are and refill it with clean oil to avoid serious damage that can come from driving with water in the differential.
===> Check the Other Fluids - If you are seeing water in other essential parts, replace what you can or take the truck home to change your fluids and avoid damaging your truck.
===> Check the Electrical System - Make sure all your electrical components are working before just assuming so.
If you have a truck bumper with a winch, make sure the winch is working as well.
===> Test Your Brakes - Dry the brakes and confirm that they are functioning correctly by driving forward and braking a few times first.
Wet brakes or brakes that end up stuck after driving through water are a danger if you don’t test them out before continuing your off-road adventure.
Deep Water Fording Success Takes Effort!
As easy as it may seem to simply drive your 4WD truck down the bank and cross a stream without thinking twice, doing so can land you in a lot of trouble.
Whenever crossing deeper water, good preparation and proper technique are the keys to success.
Take the time to equip your truck with the right gear and inspect the water ahead of time so you can move ahead with confidence!