Driving through mud and fording water is something that nearly every Jeep owner looks forward to doing when they go off-road and hit the trails.
Yet you can get into trouble doing both if you don’t know how to do it right.
Before you head nose first into the stream or bog, make sure you understand the basics of getting through water and mud obstacles.
Crossing Water Without Drowning Your Jeep
As much as your instinct may be to splash through a stream or other water as quickly as possible, avoid doing this.
Safely fording water actually involves doing just the opposite.
Go slowly and pay attention to what’s at the bottom of the water you’re crossing:
===> Fording Depth - Before driving into any water, it’s essential that you know your maximum water fording depth and how high that is on your Jeep.
This information can be found in the owner’s manual and documents the deepest you should drive into any water without specialty gear.
You would need to add a snorkel to keep water out of your air intake or caps to keep water out of your exhaust, fuel system, and other vehicle systems.
If you don’t have an owner's manual available, play it safe and don’t go any deeper than the bottom of your Jeep JL bumpers.
===> Approach - Once you’re ready to cross the water, put your Jeep into 4WD low gear and proceed slowly.
Keep moving forward at a slow rate so the water parts in front of your truck and swirls away from the motor and toward the sides.
Also pay attention to rocks and low spots in the bottom.
Most importantly, although you generally want to keep moving forward and not stop, be ready to do just that if the water starts getting too deep.
Going back is a better alternative to ruining your engine if your Jeep gets flooded in too-deep water.
===> Other Tips - After you’ve crossed the water, use your brakes gently at first until they have a chance to dry out.
If you plan on crossing deeper water, avoid doing so unless there is another vehicle on the trail with you in case you end up stuck or need to be winched out.
It’s also a good idea to check for water in the transmission or differential afterward.
Getting Through the Mud Without Getting Stuck
Mud is another obstacle that you may think would be great fun tackled at a higher speed; in actuality, it needs careful negotiation.
Once again, slow and steady is the best method.
You need to know what you’re driving into first and what to do if you get stuck.
===> Analyze Things - There are many types of mud and how you travel across each may vary.
Begin by first noting whether there are any tracks on the other side of the mudhole you want to cross. If there aren’t, this means you’re driving into untested territory.
You might want to think again unless you’re prepared to get winched out.
If there is standing water over the mud, you need to consider water fording depth as well as the soft bottom and how much lower your vehicle could sink while you negotiate the mud.
===> Approach - The most important factor for successfully driving through mud is to keep moving forward to avoid getting stuck.
With your Jeep in 4WD low gear, enter straight and drive fast enough to maintain momentum without spinning your tires or getting mud and water in your open fenders.
Remember that there isn’t a way to positively know where the bottom of a mud hole is located, so it’s critical to just keep moving forward.
Be mindful of deep ruts left by other vehicles that could leave you high-centered.
If you feel like you’re losing traction, turn your steering wheel side to side a little bit as this sometimes helps.
===> Other Tips - Primarily, if you enter any type of mud obstacle, do so knowing that you could get stuck and be prepared to get yourself out.
Carry recovery gear with you and always travel with another vehicle. Jeep JL steel bumpers with a winch are helpful for getting out of mud.
With enough practice and good judgment, you’ll get better at this and get stuck less often.
Go Ahead - Enjoy That Water and Mud!
If you want to head out with your Jeep and splash in the water or play in the mud, have a blast!
Just make sure you do it the right way so your fun-filled day on the trails isn’t cut short by a drowned engine or getting seriously stuck.
Stay safe and learn from your mistakes - you’ll be crossing mud and water like a pro in no time!