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BANGKOK – Off-roading requires masterful driving skills, a thorough understanding of terrain and conditions, and good knowledge of vehicle capabilities. Even with these pre-requisites, off-roading can be hazardous. Chevrolet recommends caution and planning when driving off-road, and the following off-road tips based on the go-anywhere Trailblazer SUV and rugged Colorado pickup truck, two of the most capable off-roaders on the market.

Get 4WD: Properly equipped SUVs and pickup trucks normally operate in two-wheel-drive (2WD) under most conditions, but are capable of four-wheel-drive (4WD or 4x4) in off-road conditions or challenging situations such as pouring rain. When facing a muddy road, or another slippery road surface, four-wheel drive is a valuable asset. Trailblazer and Colorado’s 4WD system can help increase traction by sending the engine’s power to all four wheels.

  • 2H (Two-Wheel Drive High) for driving in most street and highway situations
  • 4H (Four-Wheel Drive High) when extra traction is needed
  • N (Neutral) only when towing the vehicle
  • 4L (Four-Wheel Drive Low) when driving in sand/mud, and while going up/down steep hills

Get to know your vehicle

Knowing your vehicle’s width, height, capacity, torque, and all assistance systems will enable you can make the right decisions at a moment’s notice to use your vehicle properly on uncertain terrain. Get familiar with your driver assist features, including Antilock Brake System (ABS), Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Grade Braking (aka Downhill Mode), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control, and Traction Control System.

Get prepared

The following tools and accessories are useful in tough conditions: All-terrain tires (and a full-size spare); tire gauge, deflator and electronic air compressor kit; high-lift jack; safety kit, including medical aids and fire extinguisher; winching kit; hitch or tow strap attachment with tow strap; multi-purpose tool, shovel and axe; CB Radio; compass and flashlight.

Get into the right seating position: Adjust the driving position to fit your body. Buckle up because it will help you maintain position while driving uphill and downhill.

Get the correct steering grip: Place your hands at 3 and 9 o'clock on the steering wheel. Hold the wheel firmly with thumbs up. Do not put your thumbs around the inside of the steering wheel in off-road conditions, because if the vehicle hits a rock or other obstacle the steering wheel can turn quickly, potentially causing an injury to your thumb or wrist.

Get traction in loose, steep or wet terrain: Don’t push too much on the accelerator, because the wheels can slip on loose terrain, making it difficult to control the vehicle.

  • Use a low gear and maintain a slow speed
  • When possible, drive straight up or down the hill
  • Slow down when approaching the top of the hill
  • Never go downhill with either the transmission or transfer case in N (Neutral)
  • When driving downhill, steer straight down. Use a low gear because the engine will work with the brakes to slow the vehicle and help keep the vehicle under control

Get moving again (if you stall)

  • Apply the brakes to stop the vehicle, shift into P (Park) and then restart the engine
  • If driving uphill when the vehicle stalls, shift to R (Reverse), release the parking brake, and back straight down. Never try to turn the vehicle around. If the hill is steep enough to stall the vehicle, it is steep enough to cause it to roll over.
  • If driving downhill when the vehicle stalls, shift to a lower gear, release the parking brake, and drive straight down the hill.
  • If you cannot restart the vehicle after stalling, set the parking brake, shift into P (Park), and turn the vehicle off. Leave the vehicle and seek help.

Get through deep water

  • If the standing water is not too deep, drive slowly through it. At faster speeds, water splashes and the vehicle can stall
  • Before descending into the water, turn off the air-conditioning and roll down the windows
  • Ease into the water at no more than 3 km/h, and increase to 6km/h in the water
  • Once out of the water, apply the brakes gently to dry them.