Off-Roading
Four Wheel Drive Concepts
Offroad Driving Techniques
   Basic driving skills
   Climbing steep slopes
   Descending steep slopes
   Traversing steep slopes
   Driving in mud
   Driving in sand
   Driving in snow
   Wading through water
Vehicle Recovery Techniques
Reference
Calculators
Off-Road Driving Techniques
Climbing Steep Slopes

For vehicles equipped with low range gears, climbing slopes of 40 degrees or more is easy. The power of low range gearing ensures you get to the top, assuming your tyres and the surface of the incline provide you with with adequate traction. Climbing a steep slope is a simple process: select low-range second, drive straight up along the fall line, making sure you don't loose traction because of wheel-spin.   Climbing a steep slope
The fall line is a term borrowed from snowboarding, and refers to the direct way down a hill - the path that a ball rolls when you release it on a hill. Never cross the fall line with your vehicle - you're risking a roll-over. Always drive straight up or drive straight down.

Ascending a steep slope - Click to enlarge   Successful hill-climbing does require a bit of practice. All slopes are different, and some require a bit of finesse. When the lip at the top of the slope is really steep or has an axle-twister, drive up slightly faster to allow the vehicle's momentum to help carry you over the top. Remember though to go off the gas as soon as you reach the lip, as a heavy foot on this part is bound to cause wheel-spin, leaving your car just below the top with no way out other than reversing back down the hill.

Failed Climb

If, for any reason, you get stuck on a hill, i.e. your engine stalled because of too little thottle, or you just can't make the lip, you will need to reverse your vehicle back down the slope. Although this may seem initially daunting, the process is simple, safe and effective. Practice this technique in a controlled environment to ensure you know what you're doing.
Engine running
  • First, make sure your left foor is on the clutch, and the right is firmly on the foot-brake.
  • Next, engage reverse gear, remaining in low range.
  • Look out your window and make sure that your wheels are straight. If they're turned you may find yourself turning sideways on the hill and risk a rollover!
  • Keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel!
  • Now release the clutch slightly ahead of releasing the foot-brake, and start reversing down the slope.
  • Look over your shoulder to ensure that you're driving straight down the hill, along the fall-line.
  • Keep going, not touching brake, clutch nor accelerator, and allow the compression of the engine to slowly bring you back down to level ground.
  • Stall (Engine not running)
  • First, make sure your right foot is firmly on the foot-brake.
  • Next, engage reverse gear, remaining in low range, then take your foot off the clutch.
  • Look out your window and make sure that your wheels are straight. If they're turned you may find yourself turning sideways on the hill and risk a rollover!
  • Keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel!
  • Now gently release the foot-brake.
  • The steepness of the slope may be get your engine running as is rolls back down. If so, skip the next step.
  • If your vehicle doesn't move, i.e. the vehicle is being held by the engine, briefly operate the starter, keeping your feet off the clutch and brake. This will start you moving back down.
  • Keep going, not touching brake, clutch nor accelerator, and allow the compression of the engine to slowly bring you back down to level ground.
  • Practice this technique - its worthwhile and easy to learn. Remember that if you can't make it all the way up a hill and spin your wheels excessively, you're only wearing out your tyres and digging holes in the ground, making your next attempt that much more difficult!