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How To Drive Offroad in Sand, Snow, Dirt and Mud

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How To Drive Offroad in Sand, Snow, Dirt and Mud
Barry Winfield

Riding your ATV or 4wd offroading in challenging terrain like deep sand, snow or mud can be challenging. There are a few simple steps you can take to help you get through or in some cases get unstuck.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Ongoing

Here's How:

  1. Airing Down

    When you're riding through deep sand or snow you should deflate your tires to increase the tire's footprint, giving more area to spread the weight of the vehicle around and get better traction. You'll want to watch your ground clearance, it will be reduced.

    If you get stuck in deep sand you can deflate your tires to as low as around 8 to 12 lbs, it will help you get unstuck. Make sure you re-inflate your tires immediately when you air them down that far or you may risk damaging your rims.

  2. Types of Tires

    There are a couple different types of tires that work well in deep sand, snow, mud and dirt.

    Balloon tires are round and wider than other offroad tires, and have bumps on them just like regular nobbie tires. They are used mostly on ATVs.

    Paddle tires are wide and flat and are only used on tires that are powered, usually the rear. They are smooth and have cups running from side to side in rows around the tire. These cups can grab sand and snow. People often use "smoothies" on the front when using paddle tires, sometimes with a single high fin that goes along the entire circumference of the tire.

  3. Momentum

    Drive at a stead pace without spinning your tires. Keep the pace somewhat faster so you don't bog down in deep areas. If the tires start to spin try turning slightly and/or slowing down slightly to allow the tires to regain traction.

  4. Muddy Ruts

    Often times you are forced to drive in ruts. In these cases you need to keep your tires pointed into the ruts or you could damage your vehicle. Be careful that you don't allow them to lead you somewhere where you don't want to go.

  5. Hard Snow, Soft Snow

    There are two basic states of snow; soft and hard. The hard snow keeps you from sinking, but can be more slippery, almost like ice. If the snow melts somewhat and becomes slushy it can become more difficult to drive in. Avoid steep inclines.

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