Just because you have a 4×4, it does not mean you can Off-Road.

I can almost tell you what led to this very expensive towing bill: 1) Jeep was on 2WD rather than the recommended 4WD Low. 2) Not wearing the right tires for sand. 3) The driver was trying to do the stuff they do in commercials and splash ocean water because it looks cool.

Back in the time when Off-Roading was in black and white, we did go to remote beaches quite a lot but we had some basic tools and principles we followed. In tools, you carried chains and cables (we were too broke to afford winches), at least a shovel and something to slide under the tires if you ever got stuck like meter-long pieces of  2×4. As for principles, that was easy: Never EVER screw around where the sand gets wet and always be in 4WD Low.

You wanna know the funny part? Our tools were used to unstuck idiots that did not understand that just because you see it in the screen, it is a good idea to emulate.  Whatever pleasurable you see in TV or movies about the beach, it is probably wrong and that includes romance. How do I know? Don’t ask.

Off-Roading rides on the simple principle of returning to the point of origin without a minimum of trouble and hopefully without the assistance of a third party. That means you need to manage your assets and yourself. And preparation is a MUST as there are no service stations or auto part stores in the middle of nowhere. You take what could break with you and you better learn how to fix stuff if you planned to go home with your 4×4.

A very young me coming back from a remote beach in South America.
1973 Toyota FJ40 named the Blue Beast.

I eventually gave up Off-Roading because it was affecting my back. I had taken too many liberties with my vertebrae prior to going into the driving wild and it was starting to show with all the jumping you did on that stiff suspension.

I still miss it.


8 Replies to “Just because you have a 4×4, it does not mean you can Off-Road.”

  1. I knew they would have to do some digging.

    Most people don’t realize just how much digging is done when you get stuck.

    Fortunately, I’ve never been stuck in sand, but I have in deep snow and all you can do it dig. A winch helps, but if you don’t dig, you just burn up your winch and damage your truck trying to overcome the resistance of the snow.

    What’s going to be worse for this guy than the towing bill is the repair bill. The surf came in and suck him. That means wet, salty sand is all inside his breaks and rotors, up in his radiator and drive belt, maybe even in his alternator.

    All that has to be cleaned out or replaced. That might actually be totaled.

    1. Being a modern Jeep with much better body coatings than we used to have, I figure that a good deep wash would fix most of the issues. Just find a nice river and drive across several times to remove sand and salt. That is what we used to do 🙂

  2. Having spent a fair amount of time and effort pushing or towing other peoples 4x4s out of the mud, my observation from my youth still holds: “Four wheel drive just gets you stuck farther in and deeper.”

    P.S. My 2WD pickup with a granny first gear never got me stuck so bad I needed help to get out.

    1. I got stuck with my 2WD in all places, an orange grove at night. I needed to take a call from mother nature somewhere in middle Florida and pulled off a bit too far into a grove.

      I still have not figured out why orange growers have a couple of feet of powdery sand surrounding their plantations. By the time I realized what was happening, I was “stuck to the balls.” A buddy had to help me out and he was also amazed about the sand.

      1. Something similar happened to me long ago. I was driving through Arizona’s Painted Desert area when nature called. I felt the suburban starting to sink and gunned the hell out of it. Fortunately I didn’t get stuck, but I did have some really really shiny tire sidewalls afterwards.

  3. Even in my front wheel drive car I carry a tow strap, shackles, and a way to dig. As for somthing to put under a tire, I use the spare tire cover. But it has been a very long time since I needed to worry overmuch about getting stuck.

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