Crossing water in your off-roader can be fun and exciting, a great way to challenge yourself and put your Jeep or truck with its new steel bumpers through its paces.
It can also turn into an adventure gone wrong if you don’t know how to do it the right way – and without a doubt, there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to ford water!
Before you go charging off into water of any size or shape, learn how to do it the right way so you actually get across and avoid having an engine filled with water out in the middle of nowhere.
Investigate the Body of Water
Before you enter any body of water, it’s essential to get out of your truck or Jeep and assess the situation.
- Bottom – Confirm the consistency of the bottom surface, as dealing with a muddy bottom versus a rocky one is going to require two different approaches.
- Water Depth – Check how deep the water is where you want to cross even if that means carefully wading in. You’ll dry off; on the other hand, your truck will drown if it’s too deep.
- Current – While you’re checking the water depth, pay particular attention to whether there is a current, how strong it is, and what the other side where you’ll be exiting looks like.
- Bank Angle – How steep is the bank angle? Consider how you need to climb out of the water and the bottom surface to get an idea of how challenging it might actually be.
How Deep Can Your Vehicle Go?
To safely ford any water that’s more than a few inches with your off-road truck and its new bumpers, you’ve got to know your vehicle’s fording depth limit.
This is critical information you need to research before heading off on the trail with the intent of crossing deeper water.
As long as you’ve estimated well or actually measured the depth, you’ll know before even trying whether your truck or Jeep can cross that water.
Plan ahead, know your fording depth, then do the math.
Pick Your Line
Just as you do for rock crawling, hill climbing, or attempting any other off-road obstacle, pick your line when fording water and follow through.
When picking your line, keep things like current, bottom surface, and exit points in mind and pick a point that has you driving slightly into the current and exiting at the safest spot.
Once you’re actually in the water whether it’s a stream, river, or some other body of water, keep going forward and don’t stop as the forward momentum will create a small wake in front of your truck or Jeep, pulling water away from the grille.
If you stop, you could end up either stuck in the bottom or stalled out if the water comes swirling again around your front end with its new steel bumper.
Be Prepared for Recovery
Always be prepared to do a recovery in case you don’t make it across.
It’s best to cross water when you’re in a group and with someone who has a winch and other recovery gear, just in case it’s needed.
Whatever you do, if you stall in deeper water do not try to restart the vehicle or you could flood the engine.
Get someone to winch you out, then think about what you might have done wrong so you can actually get through the next time you try crossing that same spot again.
Know How to Cross To Make It Across
Now that you know what’s involved in crossing any water you come across while off-roading, you can add that to your list of learned skills.
Successful water fording takes careful planning and good technique that takes into consideration present conditions where you want to cross and how you solve the problem to do just that.
If you enjoy this experience with your off-road truck and its new front bumper and want to get a bit more adventurous by crossing deeper water, check out the next post that’s all about snorkels for driving through deep water!