Off-roading in perfect weather conditions already poses a significant number of hazards and safety risks. When you add rain to the mix, the combination of reduced visibility and slippery trails can make for an incredibly dangerous situation. If you’re committed to off-roading rain or shine, it’s important to prepare properly to minimize safety risks as much as possible. Below, we will discuss some of our top tips for off-roading safely in the rain.
Ensure Your Windshield Wipers Are up To Snuff
When it comes to off-roading safely in the rain, one of the most important components of your vehicle is your windshield wipers. Overtime, the windshield wipers on your vehicle may harden or develop cracks. In such a case, they will lose their ability to effectively wipe away rain and debris that may end up on your windshield. As a result, your visibility will be greatly reduced, which will increase your risk of getting into a dangerous accident. To ensure that you’re able to maintain adequate visibility while off-roading in the rain, check that your front and back windshield wipers are in good condition and that they work correctly.
Make Sure Your Brakes Are in Good Condition
When driving over wet surfaces, braking distance often increases. Essentially, braking distance refers to the distance that a vehicle travels across from the moment when brakes are fully applied to the moment the vehicle comes to a complete stop.
Because it can take longer to brake, the potential for running into an obstacle greatly increases when driving on slippery surfaces. To minimize braking distance as much as possible despite driving in wet conditions, make sure to check your brakes to ensure that they’re in quality condition. Taking on slippery trails without properly working brakes is a recipe for disaster.
Air Down Your Tires
When trails become wet, the water mixes with dirt or clay and makes the surface more slippery. As such, rain often causes your tires to lose traction which will increase your risk of slipping, sliding, or hydroplaning around on the trails. To avoid slipping down a mountain, over the edge of a cliff, or into an obstacle, consider airing down your tires.
Decreasing the air pressure in your tires will increase the amount of the tire’s surface area that touches the trail. By providing more area for the tire to grip the ground, airing down your tires is an effective way to increase the amount of traction that your tires have on slippery surfaces. Even if you have the most robust off-roading tires available, consider airing them down to make them even safer in inclement weather conditions.
Keep Your Headlights On
In addition to ensuring that your windshield wipers are in good condition, turning on your headlights is another way to increase visibility in rainy conditions. By keeping your headlights on, you will be able to see further down the trail to spot potential obstacles earlier on. Doing so will give you more time to slow down, turn, or stop which is highly beneficial as braking time tends to be longer on slick surfaces.
For optimum visibility in the rain, consider investing in an LED light kit for your Jeep. Aftermarket LED light kits offer nearly twice as much light output as stock headlights, while also having a much smaller amp draw.
Drive Slow and Steady
In addition to preparing your vehicle properly, how you drive can also have a large impact on your safety when off-roading in the rain. When driving over wet, slippery surfaces, one of the most effective ways to avoid sliding or losing control of your vehicle is by driving slowly and steadily. Quickly accelerating may cause your wheels to lose traction and spin. As a result, your tires may dig into the ground and cause you to get stuck, or you may skid into a tree or boulder.
That said, driving too slowly may cause you to lose the momentum necessary to get over an incline or particularly slippery patch of terrain. Ultimately, finding the right balance between driving too slow and too fast over a wet surface will take practice. If you don’t have much experience off-roading, you should probably wait for a sunnier day to hit the trails.
Check the Depth of Puddles, Streams, and Rivers Before Crossing
Just because you’ve crossed a stream or river in your Jeep before doesn’t mean you’ll be able to clear it while it’s raining. Even relatively light amounts of rain can substantially increase the depth of bodies of water. To avoid flooding your vehicle’s important components or getting swept away by the tide, it’s always important to check the depth of rivers and streams before crossing them.
If the water is higher than midway up your tires or if you aren’t able to cross it on foot, you should avoid trying to drive through it. As a general rule, you should always avoid crossing over moving water, as it could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and get swept away.
Bring Essential Recovery Equipment
Hopefully, our tips for off-roading safely in the rain help you avoid unpleasant situations. And while avoiding getting stuck is the ultimate goal, there is always a chance that you may find yourself in a bit of a sticky situation when off-roading—especially when driving on soft, slippery terrain. As such, it’s important to keep recovery equipment in your Jeep. Recovery gear such as traction pads, recovery straps, and a winch will often help you get your Jeep unstuck if your tires sink into the soft trails. Keeping such equipment in your Jeep might just prevent you from getting stranded in the middle of nowhere for hours or even days on end.
While driving with your hardtop off on a sunny day makes for an enjoyable experience, you may want a bit more coverage on when wet weather arises. Unfortunately, putting on and taking off your hardtop is often a hassle. However, it doesn’t have to be. Top Lift Pro’s innovative Jeep hardtop hoist makes it easy to remove or put on your Jeep’s hardtop without any help in two minutes or less. To ensure that your Jeep is suited to whatever weather mother nature doles out, purchase our unique hardtop hoist today.