What Happened To My Truck On That Off-Roading Trail?


So you’ve been out on the trail all day having a great time, putting your truck through its paces, maybe pushing a few limits here and there, but that’s how you build skills, right?

Now on the way back, you can tell something isn’t right; there’s a new clunking sound that wasn’t there before or maybe your truck just sounds weird or you can’t steer as well as you could before.

Even worse, maybe you’re flat out stuck out there, broken down.

While anything is possible when you take a vehicle off the smooth, paved roads, some problems are more likely than others.

If you’re trying to plan ahead for the more likely problems you could have, here’s a list of some of the common mishaps that happen out on the trail.

Keep them in mind so you can take the steps necessary to prevent these problems with your own truck!

1. Flats, De-beading, and Other Tire Damage

The most common issue that off-roaders deal with has to do with tires.

  • Flats are extremely common when tires are punctured or lose their air in some other way.
  • It’s also pretty common to get a tire stuck or twist it in such a way that it ends up de-beading.
  • It’s even possible to get deep sidewall cuts on really rough going if the tires are not in good shape or you drive into something exceptionally sharp.

The best answer for any of these problems is to have a spare tire with you at all times.

2. Body Damage

It’s really easy to sustain even minor body damage when you leave the pavement and go off-road.

Rocks and debris flying up are a primary cause and one that can’t always be prevented.

Of course, there are also tons of other ways you could end up with more serious body damage from driving mishaps, equipment failure, and many other things.

It’s a risk to be aware of whenever you head out to the trail, that your clean and perfect truck could come back with a ding or two at the very least.

3. Undercarriage or Frame Damage

The undercarriage of your truck is one of the more susceptible areas on the vehicle that can end up seriously damaged if you’re not careful enough.

The components hiding under there like the oil and gas tanks as well as the exhaust system are all in danger of being crushed, punctured, or pulled off when your attempts to negotiate rocks, riverbanks, and similar obstacles go afoul.

Similarly, a hard enough knock on the frame or pushing your truck beyond its limits could result in broken welds, bent frame rails, and other frame damage.

4. Transmission and Drivetrain Problems

Another critical area under the truck that can be severely damaged is the transmission and other parts of the drivetrain.

Whether it happens from an impact under the vehicle, pushing your truck beyond its capabilities and destroying the gears, or running into some kind of problem with those parts that finally fail, it’s a common and costly occurrence.

It’s essential that your drivetrain is functioning properly, and your vehicle correctly geared and maintained for this kind of activity or you’re sure to eventually run into issues due to overuse, strain, and more.

5. Wheel Misalignment

All those bumps in the trail that you drive over, the ones that seem fun from inside the truck, can potentially cause your wheels to misalign and then affect everything from your truck’s ride to the steering and more.

It’s important to check for alignment frequently and at the first sign that it could be off when you encounter symptoms like wobbling, strange vibrations, and not traveling in a straight line; get it re-aligned to prevent other issues from continuing to drive that way.

6. Steering Issues

There are all kinds of ways you could end up with the inability to steer your truck while out off-roading, so this is another common problem and one that will bring your fun to a standstill if not remedied.

From a broken steering rack to a steering pump going bad, if you can’t steer you can’t safely negotiate the trail.

Once again, it’s things like impacts to the underside of the vehicle and stress on the steering pump that cause these problems.

7. Suspension and Shock Damage

The suspension on your truck is one of its systems that does the most work when you’re going off-road and probably suffers the most abuse.

Blown and bent shocks and broken shock mounts are very common, as are broken leaf springs.

Like many of these problems, this damage usually happens when you go at things just a little too hard and your truck simply can’t take it.

Avoid Damage – Use Good Driving Practices

Part of the thrill of off-roading is the bumps and bounces, doing things with your truck that really get the adrenaline pumping.

It’s still essential to understand your vehicle’s limits based on its specifications and equipment so you don’t overdo it.

Damage happens when you go off-roading, that’s a given.

The best way to reduce the chance that it’ll happen to you is to keep your truck properly maintained, add some useful, protective body armor like hardy steel bumpers, and know your limits.

Develop your skills so you can carefully and correctly negotiate every obstacle in your path and come away unscathed!

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