As nice as it might be to have an off-road toy that’s not also your daily driver, the reality is that most of us don’t have that luxury.
Our daily drivers do double duty as a family or work vehicle during the week and a play toy on the weekends.
When the two worlds collide – not always in a good way – is when vehicle performance is concerned.
Can I Modify My Daily Driver?
You might like to modify your 4X4 so you can do more with it; however, most off-road modifications shouldn’t go from the trail to the street and many are even illegal.
So you’re stuck keeping it mostly stock, other than maybe increasing your wheel and tire size slightly because even though you may aspire to do a lot more with your mostly-stock vehicle, the safest thing to do is play it safe.
Here’s some advice for having fun while keeping it real when your daily driver is also your weekend warrior.
Plan Your Outing
The first step for enjoying your off-roading without overdoing it is knowing where you’re going, in other words map your route with topographical maps and stick only to marked, published trails.
That way you can do a little research ahead of time to get an idea of the conditions you’re likely to encounter so you can avoid places you shouldn’t attempt with your daily driver.
Whether the issue is having your new Matrix front bumper gouged and scratched by tree branches or coming across rocks, water, and other obstacles that are more than your vehicle can handle, you can make the most of your day by avoiding those spots and sticking to the ones that you can handle.
You’ll have an enjoyable day with no surprises and no unexpected damage or breakdowns.
Pack Emergency Gear
Just because you’re taking the easier trails doesn’t mean you can’t get stuck.
Any time you go off-road, you increase the possibility of getting a flat or breaking something on your daily driver that could leave you stranded.
- As a minimum, have a full-sized spare with you plus the tools to change it and do minor repairs to your vehicle.
- Always travel with a first aid kit and some basic survival gear, too.
- Always travel in a group especially in your daily driver and practice common sense so you don’t do anything that will keep you from actually getting your daily driver home again.
Don’t Push Your Limits
Above all, know your vehicle’s specs and particulars so you’ll know its limits and stick to it.
As fun as it might be to push it just a little more on the trail, you could be setting yourself to break something or worse yet have a dangerous wreck.
Even if you’ve got the performance trail package or other off-road options on your 4X4 that gives it greater capabilities than the standard versions, there are still limits that your vehicle should not be pushed beyond.
Pay attention to the:
- Type and size of your tires so you know what you can expect from them traction-wise.
- Type of your transmission and how your 4WD works.
- Water fording depth of your off-roader and your angles – approach, departure, and breakover – so you can tackle smaller obstacles safely while knowing when you need to pass on something.
A lifted suspension, bigger wheels, and aired-down tires as well as other performance parts would allow you to do more; however, none of this is going to do well on the street for your daily needs.
Bridge the Gap Between Daily Driver and Off-Road Warrior
Off-roading in your daily driver can be a lot of fun if you approach it the right way.
Sure, it might be more exciting to head out in a 4X4 that you’ve dedicated just for the trail, but you don’t need that to enjoy time spent off-roading.
All you need is a good understanding of what your stock vehicle can do, some good planning, and common sense in order to still spend your weekends exploring the trails and enjoying off-roading so you get the best of both worlds!