Tips for Off-Roading in Sand

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When we think of off-roading, the first image that comes to our minds is a Jeep with mud up to its spotlights. But as great as mudding is, any off-roading aficionado will tell you there are plenty of exciting locales to explore, from mountains to snow-covered trails.

Here on the west coast, the abundance of beaches and deserts make sand a perfect terrain to explore in your Jeep or truck. But traversing dunes is no easy feat. Our tips for off-roading in sand will help you get the most out of your experience.

Check Your Tire Pressure

When you’re driving on a normal day, you may worry whether you have enough pressure in your tires. But in the world of off-roading, higher tire pressure gives your tires a smaller surface area. This means less traction, which is especially important on sandy terrain. The ideal tire pressure for this situation is 15-20psi, and even less for activities like dune running.

Know Your Driving Strategies

As with any off-roading terrain, it takes skill to drive on sand without getting stuck or losing control of your vehicle. Keep these sand off-roading driving tips in mind before you hit the desert or beach.

  • Don’t change gears too frequently
  • Keep momentum steady
  • Don’t accelerate too quickly
  • Avoid sharp turns, and use a little throttle when you turn the wheel
  • Only go straight up or down on a sand dune
  • Try not to brake or turn on a dune

Additionally, proceed with caution if you find yourself needing to cross a small patch of water. Water that seems shallow at a distance may be deeper with stronger undertows than you might expect. This, coupled with the damaging effect of saltwater on a car’s body, can make these treks hazardous.

Beware of Soggy Sand

Water isn’t the only way moisture can cause treacherous conditions when you’re off-roading in the sand. Soggy sand, even when it’s under a layer of dry sand, can cause you to get stuck. If you’re not sure if the sand is wet, take the time to walk the trail on foot before you drive it. When in doubt, bring a shovel and recovery equipment with you.

Bring a Sand Flag

With the bright sunlight hitting the sand, you wouldn’t expect visibility to be an issue. But when you’re driving over dunes, it’s nearly impossible to see what’s coming over the next crest. To avoid collisions, attach a sand flag to the front of your vehicle. It may seem simple, but it will help other drivers see you when you’re going over a hill.

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