One of the best, most exciting parts of off-roading is taking to the hills. Hill climbing is not just a good challenge; it can really get the adrenaline pumping as off-roaders try their hand - and their luck - on the hills at their favorite off-roading site. Before making that first climb, though, it’s very important for off-roaders to understand the inherent risks involved in hill climbing if they want to make it to the other side unscathed. Read over these common sense tips about how to safely negotiate hills and make sure you and your prized offroading truck drive home in one piece!
Climbing Up That Hill
Climbing a challenging hill is best done in low gear range, preferably in 2nd or 3rd gear whenever possible. Low range works best for careful hill negotiation because most trucks have better RPM torque in low range, even up to as high as 60 MPH. Staying in low range prevents the need to keep switching from high to low, giving off-roaders the steady power they need to make it to the top in most conditions.
In the event that you run out of gears, back down to the bottom and try it again with a different approach. High range might be required for longer inclines with loose surfaces like sandy hills, but only when the climbing strategy is a run-up.
Making it All the Way Back Down
To safely descend any hill, the truck should always be in low range, with the truck in 1st gear before starting your descent. By keeping the truck moving slowly there’s less need to use the brakes. Braking on a descent can cause the brakes to lock up and the truck could slide. The goal is to let the low gear, in low range, keep the truck creeping steadily toward the bottom. If you need to apply the brakes at any point, do it lightly and only as needed to slow down.
The most important factor in preventing rollovers is to always climb straight up and down a hill, avoiding traveling sideways to the hill angle. Front or rear rollovers are much less common, while it is fairly easy to lose balance while climbing on an angle. Keep the truck as balanced as possible, front-to-back and side-to-side, taking all passengers and gear into account. Keep the center of gravity as low as possible.
Learn How to Do A Hill Stall Recovery
Stalling on an incline is common. Restarting is a little trickier, since your truck will be in gear on a steep ascent. Trucks with manual transmissions should be carefully restarted using the hill stall recovery technique, which prevents the truck from being out of gear while it is restarted. To do this, turn the engine off and put your foot on the brake, then push in the clutch and put the truck in reverse in low. Release the clutch, then slowly release the brake and start the engine.
The starter motor will start driving the truck backward as the engine starts. Back down the hill and try it again, only don’t let it stall this time. Just stepping on the brake and turning the starter will restart trucks with automatics.
Using these easy tips, any off-roader can start small and gradually increase their hill climbing skills without ending up with a disaster. The trick here is to stay in the lowest gear possible while still maintaining enough power to make it to the top. Though it sounds easy, it sure does take some practice and really knowing what to expect from your offroading superstar truck. In the end, off-roaders can gain a lot of useful experience and learn problem-solving skills by starting out slow and steady before moving up to the more challenging hills - and extreme exhilaration!