Offroad driving


Differences between 4x2 and 4x4

Besides from the obvious fact that all four wheels are driven and thus giving more traction, there are other important differences between a two-wheel and a four-wheel drive:

Rule of thumb: Engage the centre lock immediately when leaving tar, engage axle locks only to get out of difficult situations.

Driving techniques




There are many places where one can receive advanced off-road driver training training. Most of the major off-road vehicle manufacturers offer courses on their own vehicles.

Recovery kit

It is highly recommended that you carry a recovery kit when travelling off-road. A simple kit can mean the difference between getting yourself out of a tight spot within an hour or being stuck for days waiting for help to arrive.

A basic recovery kit should contain at least the following:

Always ensure that the equipment is from a reputable manufacturer and of good quality. When suck in the mud 100km from the nearest town, a working snatch block is worth a lot more than a broken one with a 12 month no questions asked exchange warranty.

Due to quality concerns it is generally better to build your own recovery kit by purchasing each component individually, than to buy a complete all-in-one recovery kit.

Improvised repairs


Spare parts



First check the cooling water level. If it is low, refilling does not help too much, because as you have lost it during the last short period of time (you have checked it before you started your journey, haven't you?) you will probably lose it again very soon. So you have to search the leakage. Check the tubes from and to the radiator, and the radiator itself.

Bigger punctures in the radiator can be repaired with epoxy putty, smaller ones by putting egg white in the radiator. But be sure to clean this as soon as you can. If you have a leakage in the radiator hose put a (used!) chewing gum on it and fix it with some duct tape.

If the cooling water level is ok, but the engine is still running hot, something might prevent the water from being cooled. Check the fan belt, is it loose or broken? Have a look at the radiator, is grass or seeds disturbing the airflow?

Another common problem is a defective thermostat. The thermostat is responsible for by-passing the radiator as long as the engine is cold, allowing the engine to reach its optimum operation temperature quickly. But if it is broken, the cooling water will not reach the radiator and the engine heats up too much. To work around this problem without having a spare thermostat just remove it. Then the water will always flow through the radiator and your problems should be gone. Replace it soon.

Heated parts of the car might cause a wildfire.


With some practise you do not need the clutch to change gears.

Car types

Diesel or Petrol?

The availability of diesel is better in 3rd world countries.




Cars by this manufacturer have a reputation for being very reliable. They are used in many third world countries, so it is easy to get spare parts almost anywhere.

The workhorse for off-road driving! Very reliable and, because it is very commonly used, spare parts are even available in Timbuktu.

  • Single Cab: Three seats, two doors
  • Xtracab: Five seats, two doors
  • Double Cab: six seats, four doors


Hiring a car

Most companies require a minimum age to rent a car.


Camping gear is sometimes included in off-road rentals, this allows you to combine your transport and accommodation requirements in one.

Be sure to check on the cost of insurance and the excess payable in the event of an accident or theft of the vehicle.

Organized tours

Organized tours are becoming quite popular. It ensures that there is at least one experienced driver in the group and that there is always someone to assist in recovery if a vehicle gets stuck. Many people also prefer the social interaction of a larger group rather just one or two vehicles travelling on their own. Some tours may even be fully catered with regular meals provided.

See also

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 22, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.