Off-roading has been slowly gaining popularity in India over the last few years. The fact that the country boasts of some of the finest terrains for off-roading makes this sport very attractive to auto enthusiasts. For the uninitiated, this sport, though adventurous and exhilarating, comes with its own perils. So before you start on your rib-shaking adventure ride, here are the top 5 rookie mistakes you need to avoid if you want to come out of your maiden trip in one piece!

  1. Not familiarizing yourself with the ‘beast’ and terrain before the trip

As with everything else in life, knowledge is power. Familiarize yourself with the vehicle’s manual and learn basic DIY from a mechanic. Study the terrain and weather conditions you are going to face and carry the essentials accordingly. At the very least, carry a full tank of gas, a strong tow rope, spare tire, first-aid kit, potable air compressor, backup water for the radiator and a shovel. Make sure you know how to use the tools, preparing as best as you can for the unexpected. Getting a pre-off road check done should be another priority.

  1. Going alone and not informing anyone

Ideally, one shouldn’t be going off the road alone. But even if you do, ensure that you tell someone where you are headed and be sure to carry a survival kit.  It is best to travel with another vehicle or in a group to ensure that should you get stuck in the trail, there is another rescue vehicle to help you. It also pays to choose trails where cellular reception is available in case of an emergency.

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  1. Not walking an obstacle

Before attempting an obstacle, always walk on it to understand what you are dealing with. Very often the obstacle looks simple from the driver’s seat but turns out to be tricky. Checking the area will give you an idea of how the vehicle will react in different situations. (E.g. snowy, slushy, sandy or rocky). Similarly, in the case of stream crossing, always check the flow strength before taking the vehicle in. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you can’t walk across, neither will your vehicle.  Walking across a water body will also give you an idea on the depth as well as whether the bottom is muddy or hard. Make sure not to create waves while entering as it will flood the engine.

  1. Waiting for the last minute before switching onto 4-wheel mode

Very often, when faced with a severe obstacle, drivers are not ready and wait for the last moment before switching onto 4-wheel mode. This does not allow the vehicle enough time to react, causing transmission issues. This can result in stalling and often you may be stuck midway in the obstacle.  Hence it is very important to study the terrain in advance and be comfortable with the level of difficulty you will encounter.

  1. Being overconfident

Remember, Safety comes first. Do not overload the vehicle. There should be a maximum of 2 people inside while attempting an obstacle. No roll bar or seatbelts on is another strict No. Do not over speed obstacles, remember to go as slow as you can but as fast as necessary. Maintaining momentum is important.


These are just some of the basic mistakes to avoid. Remember, off-roading is a skill that is improved by doing it. Know your off-roader’s footprint and take the necessary precautions, but most importantly, enjoy the thrill of the ride!

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