Here at Euro4x4parts we aim to encourage off-roading as much as possible. Learning how to handle your 4x4 out there in the field is very important.

This article will give you a brief overview of some basic off-roading skills but is certainly not designed as a substitute for the precious techniques you can learn on an off-road driving course organised by an official training centre.

Same as when you're heading up a steep slope the key point to remember is to remain facing the slope and to stay in the axis by checking the position of your wheels. 
With this in mind now let's consider the different kinds of situation that you may encounter.

Moderate slope with good grip

You need to be in low range 1st gear with your right foot over the brake pedal ready to act if required. In a manual 4x4 your left foot should be on the footrest well away from the clutch pedal. The engine braking is effective thanks to the gearbox reduction. Depending on the slope you may be in 2nd low range but you will then have to brake more often. In this case, use the brake pedal progressively and avoid pumping the brakes so as to avoid locking the wheels. 

Steep slope and/or poor grip

In this situation, there is the risk that the wheel might block even with just the engine braking. If this happens you will need to accelerate gently to regain grip. But it is often better to stay in 2nd gear low range with gentle but constant pressure on the brake pedal. Once again - do not be tempted to touch the clutch pedal!

Heading down over a step

In this situation, you will, exceptionally, have to head down with the clutch depressed but with the vehicle still in gear. Use the brake pedal, without pumping, to gently move down over the step, centimetre by centimetre. With careful control, you will overcome the obstacle easily.

Automatic transmission

If you are driving a 4x4 with an automatic gearbox you can, of course, set the gear lever in 1st or 2nd but you will always have less engine braking as compared to a manual gearbox. You will need to use the brake as well - carefully.

Diff-lock - be aware

With front or rear diff-lock engaged, the ability to steer your 4x4 is reduced. Be sure to check if the diff-lock(s) is on or off before tackling an obstacle.

Hill Descent Control (HDC)

Finally, some vehicles are fitted with descent assistance systems which will brake the vehicle automatically when using low range gears. Before using it, find out how to use it correctly (in your owner's manual). Generally speaking, depending on the nature of the terrain, these types of system are designed to maintain a constant speed of up to 8 km/h, on slopes of up to 20% maximum.


Whatever the situation or circumstances, be sure to control your vehicle. You are the only master on board and it is therefore up to you to control the speed and movement.


Before heading out into the field and putting your offroading skills to the test, you need to make sure you're using the most suitable tyres.

Check out our great range of Black-Star tyres to suit your requirements:

Black-Star tyres

Please note: Euro4x4Parts publishes this information to help its customers but cannot be held responsible for the advice given here and practical consequences therin. 

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All the photos in our articles are taken on authorized roads or tracks, private land, or during supervised competitions. Let's all do our part to preserve the environment!

Please note: Euro4x4parts publishes this information to help its customers, but cannot be held responsible for the advice given here and their consequences when used.