When the snows melt, the rains start to fall and the ground fills with water, off-roaders far and wide smile and officially welcome in the mud season.
No, this is a not a poem. But it’s hard not to get carried away on the topic of mudding. There is something very special about driving your 4x4 for a muddy run through marshes, bogs and fields. I mean, there is nothing that compares to playing in the mud.
But you still need to be smart about it, or you run the risk of ruining your trip as well as costly damage to your rig. And knowing how to handle yourself in the mud is more than simple common sense. So whether the beaten path takes you to a muddy logging trail, a slushy bog, a running creek, or a manmade trail run, following our 4 simple rules will keep you safe and out of trouble.
Rule #1: Keep Moving to… Keep Moving
The feeling of driving in mud can be described as something between ice skating and walking in quicksand. And your goal is to keep the balance between the two. To find that sweet spot, you need to keep your wheels spinning. If you’re moving, keep doing it by keeping your foot on the gas.
If you feel that your tires are spinning without helping your vehicle move forward, apply less throttle until you feel them grabbing on again. Never step on the brakes when you’re driving in mud. You can brake when you clear of it.
It’s advisable to only go mudding in a 4WD vehicle.
Rule #2: Become Familiar with Mud
Mud comes in all shapes and sizes… and textures. And you need to know them. For off-roading purposes, mud is grouped into 3 main types. Each has its own distinct characteristics and requires appropriate tires.
Clay Mud is sticky and will cling onto your tire tread. And to get through you need a nice clean tire. The trade secret here is to spray your tires with cooking spray or WD40 to keep them slippery and mud-repellant.
Dirt Mud is similar to clay mud. It will stick onto your tread, so you still need to spray your tires. The general rule is if you have a bottom, go with tires that have good dig. If you don’t have a bottom, you’ll need flotation tires to drive through.
Watery Mud is tricky because it can hide debris and deep holes you never suspected. So drive as slow as possible and as fast as necessary. And don’t worry too much about the tire type here, a good set of street tires will do the job.
Rule #3: Properly Equip Your Vehicle
By now you’ve figured out that using the right tires is crucial. There are two directions you can go with: you can get narrow tires that will cut through the mud to get through, or lager, wider tires that will float on top of the mud to create the widest traction path.
Something else you need to think about is your winch. Obviously, you need one. And you should know how to use it in mud. Be smart and think ahead. Pre-stage a rear tow point with s strap to your receiver hitch to save yourself the headache that will come if you get buried once you’re in too deep. And when you’re winching, know that mud creates suction. So pull a little at a time and pause frequently to allow your winch to cool off.
Rule #4: Mud-Proof & De-Mud
You need to be aware of the risks of mudding. You can easily get a flat tire, damage your driveshaft and axle shaft, or hydro-lock your engine. That’s why you should mud-proof your vehicle’s engine, suspension, axles and transmission. You can do this by spraying everything with WD40 or cooking spray help mud slide off quickly. And bring a few water jugs with you for your windows. Mud can seriously damage glass, so before running your wipers rinse your windows to prevent any ugly scratching.
When you’re off the trail, clean your vehicle as soon as you can. If you let the mud dry, it becomes more likely to break parts and throw off your driveline balance. It will shorten your braking distance and can even rust your frames and other metal parts within just a few days.
Have more helpful advice for driving in mud? Share them with us in the comments below!