At a recent event, Ian our CEO and I watched competitors tackle the various obstacles. A good deal of fun was had by all yet most folks in standard ( non – competition ) vehicles gave the heavy mud obstacles a miss. One has to remember that they need to get to work after the weekend.
I have driven in mud when I was younger and now do my best to avoid it. Why?
- It gets into chassis cross members and is difficult to get out if you do not clean it immediately.
- It gets stuck not only on your wheels and brake discs as well as your prop shafts and can cause imbalance whilst you drive.
- Mud contains acidic and salty components and can cause rust or damage to paintwork( fading).
So cleaning is your best defence, you will need a high-pressure washer and need to clean components whilst the mud is still wet before it dries.
- Clean the inside of your wheels and prop shaft as soon as you can.
- Check your radiator as you need to avoid overheating should you have any blockages to the core.
- If you have been in extremely deep mud for excessive periods you may need to have your alternator checked as well.
On the road after extensive time in mud, your vehicle may shake and feel like the wheel balance is out – this is caused by mud that is baked in your rims. You do need to clean this out as it will impair the vehicle’s handling.
- It’s supposedly fun but avoid the sticky stuff if you can especially in “competitions” The damage will always be worth more than the fun.
- Clean mud while it is wet, it is easier to remove and will not harden and bake. You will need a pressure washer to get it off or even a professional valet service.
- If it was really bad you may have to remove the wheels to clear them as well as the brake discs and drums.
- Never neglect the bodywork as mud can cause fading as it can be saline.
Then do not feel safe as you have suitable M/T or A/T tyres, excessive wheelspin can damage tracks as they try to get grip.
This makes it difficult for vehicles that may follow you, once the trail has dried up.
And you could simply get stuck, so look for an alternative route if you can.
- Do you have an alternative vehicle to assist with a recovery?
- Do you have sufficient recovery equipment?
- Do you have professionally fitted recovery points?
All this is important to get you back on terra firma so perhaps avoid the brown stuff if you can.
Always look for an alternative route!
So many folks advocate mud tyres ( M/T) but they have limitations in terms of road noise and braking. So rather consider an All Terrain ( A/T) tyre which is a good compromise to the standard tyre fitted to your vehicle.
Ground clearance is also important and needs to be considered if you go off-road a good deal, it also helps in muddy conditions. You would hate to get caught up on the “middle mannetjie “ caused by vehicles that have passed before you.
When encountering a real mud hole you should test the surface if you can, often not easy but it is essential. For this, I always advocate a wading stick that allows you to probe the undersurface of the obstacle.
Then look at your vehicle;
- Do you have differential locks ( at least on the rear diff )?
- Have your differential breathers been extended? You don’t want to suck water into a diff and cause damage.
- Then before you travel ensure that you have a full recovery kit. ( Have you done a recovery course ?).
Keep your revs up and stick to a chosen gear as a gear change can cause a loss of momentum- but as Ian and I discussed we still feel that mud should be avoided. Happy travels from all of us at Cross Country.