**A contributed post as written for The Safe Driver.
Whilst you’ve probably already made up your mind when it comes to buying an off-road vehicle, there are definitely a few things you need to consider before you rush into this purchase. You might be a driver with many years of experience on the road, but buying a car that’s designed to be taken off the road is a different story. All the regular maintenance and safety rules for cars still apply, but there are a few additional ones which only apply to all-terrain vehicles. Here’s some fuel for thought before you upgrade to an off-road car.
Safety behind the wheel still needs to be your priority.
You’re most likely going to use your vehicle on ordinary roads as well as off-road terrain (unless you’re planning on moving away from civilization). The thing to remember is that the rules of the road still apply to you. This needs to be understood above all else. Many people don’t quite understand the difference between sitting behind the wheel of a regular vehicle and sitting behind the wheel of a 4×4; it can be a shock to the system for you and others on the road. You’re driving a car that takes up more of the road, and maneuvering is far trickier in a vehicle of bigger proportions than most ordinary road-vehicles.
The point is that you need to be fully aware of your surroundings, as is the case when you’re driving any car, but it can take some time to adapt to doing so in a bigger vehicle. Defensive driving is always the way forward, so make sure that you drive with caution. Obviously, this is good advice whenever you’re behind the wheel, but you really need to pay attention to busy roads in an all-terrain vehicle. You might want to leave more distance between your vehicle and other cars than you did in your previous car. It’s all about adjusting to your new vehicle.
Obviously, this is the case for any car, but regular maintenance is usually unavoidable for off-road vehicles. You’re taking it over bumpy terrain in all manner of conditions, so it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to need to make repairs and replacements as your car suffers a bit of wear and tear. That’s why you really need to know your stuff about the vehicle you’re buying. This is the case for any car, but it’s doubly important when you own an all-terrain vehicle. You wouldn’t want to be stuck in a location off the beaten track without any idea of how to fix your car. You should check out some dealers for decent 4×4 parts and learn about the way in which everything works. You should read up on traction control and locking differentials.
Be prepared for any event.
As discussed throughout this article, you’re dealing with a different environment once you take a car off the main road. You need to be prepared for any event, and that doesn’t just mean you should be able to drive well or make emergency repairs to your car. You need to think about your safety too. You should always have a medical kit in the car so that you’re prepared for the event of being stuck somewhere and waiting for help to arrive. Warm clothes, food, and water are also essentials because you could be hours away from the main road if you’re on an adventure. As long as you plan ahead, you’ll be prepared.