If you plan on going on an off-road trip in the rainy season, you’ll be greeted by lots of ruts along the way. Navigating these ruts can be a thrilling yet challenging experience. Whether you find yourself exploring unpaved trails, venturing into the wilderness, or tackling rugged terrains, driving on mud including rutted tracks in a rainy season is almost inevitable.
For some passengers, this proves to be more than a challenge. So you must be prepared to tackle it. In this guide, we’ll share 5 insightful tips on driving on mud and rutted tracks. These tips will help you overcome the obstacles presented by rutted terrains.
Tip 1: Make Early Preparations
First of all, you have to make early preparations. Educate yourself a bit on the type of terrain you’ll be encountering. This will help maintain your composure and you’ll be able to enjoy the drive. If you drive a 4WD, don’t forget to engage the 4WD system. It will help a lot in traction. This can also help distribute power to all four wheels and prevent wheel spin.
Then, you also have to carry an essential recovery gear set. This includes a car jack, tow straps, shackles, and a shovel. In case your vehicle is stuck, you’ll be able to put this equipment to good use.
Tip 2: Maintain a Controlled Speed and Momentum
If you’re driving on rutted tracks, there’s always an increased chance of losing control. Remember, “Slow and steady wins the race”. Maintaining a steady speed and avoiding sudden acceleration or deceleration will help you get control and drive effectively through the rutted tracks. Driving slowly will also help you have a good eye for obstacles and you’ll be able to avoid them easily.
Moreover, avoid sharp turns and sudden breaking. This will cause the vehicle to lose control. Consistent speed and momentum are essential to keep your vehicle from getting stuck and minimizing the risk of any potential damage.
Tip 3: Choose the Right Trail
Assess the terrain and choose the best trail to follow. Look for the shallowest and smoothest part of the rut. Avoid straddling the center of the rut, as this can lead to high-centering your vehicle. If possible, navigate through the ruts at an angle to reduce the risk of getting stuck.
Furthermore, always keep the ground clearance in mind. If the ground is somewhat dry and firm, straddling ruts is advisable to maintain ground clearance. Alternatively, in wet conditions, choose to drive in the ruts to avoid damage to your vehicle.
Tip 4: Adjust Tire Pressure and Choose the Right Tires
It’s a bad idea to take a vehicle with highway tires on a rutted track. These tires don’t have enough traction to keep the vehicle in control over a slippery rack. While mud tires are ideal, all-terrain tires can also be a good option. These tires often have silica-induced components that help maintain good traction over wet surfaces. They also are heavy and bigger and prevent the vehicle from rolling over on uneven terrains.
It’s also a good practice to reduce tire pressure for driving off-road. Different manufacturers have different recommended pressures for driving over muddy terrain. All-terrain and mud tires are also thicker and made up of sturdier material than highway tires. Thereby, they can tolerate low pressure.
Tip 5: Be Cautious and Know When to Stop
Last but not least, you have to be cautious of the situation at all times. Whether you’re going uphill, downhill, or on a deep aggressive track, it’s better to come out of your vehicle, assess the situation, and take necessary actions. This will help your vehicle from getting stuck.
At times, the track can be more than challenging. It is better to change tracks and look for an easier one instead. If there’s long grass in the area, make sure that it’s not hiding any deep mud or sharp rocks.
Why is it important to engage the 4WD system when driving on rutted tracks?
The 4WD drive helps in distributing equal power to all 4 tires. This enhances tire traction and also prevents the vehicle from getting stuck.
What recovery gear should I carry when driving on rutted tracks?
Essential recovery gear includes a car jack, tow straps, shackles, and a shovel. These tools are crucial for self-recovery in case the vehicle gets stuck.
How does maintaining a controlled speed contribute to driving on rutted tracks?
Slow and steady driving helps maintain control, allowing you to navigate through rutted tracks more effectively. Sudden acceleration or deceleration increases the risk of losing control.
Why is it recommended to choose the right trail when navigating rutted tracks?
Choosing the right trail, such as the shallowest and smoothest part of the rut helps prevent high-centering. It also reduces the risk of getting stuck. Furthermore, navigating at an angle can also improve stability.
What role does tire pressure play in driving on rutted tracks?
Adjusting tire pressure is crucial for off-road driving. Each tire manufacturer has a specified pressure for driving over off-road terrains. The low pressure allows good traction over uneven surfaces.
Can all-terrain tires be suitable for driving on rutted tracks?
Yes, all-terrain tires can be a good option for rutted tracks. They offer a balance between on-road comfort and off-road performance. The silica component of all-terrain tires helps maintain traction on wet surfaces.
When should I consider stopping while driving on rutted tracks?
It’s advisable to stop and assess the situation when facing challenging terrain, going uphill or downhill. If the track seems too difficult, changing routes and avoiding deep mud or sharp rocks is a better option. Sometimes, people don’t have enough courage or experience to tackle such challenging terrain. So, it’s best to change course.
How to drive in mud and ruts?
Driving in mud proves to be a challenge, however, people can tackle it simply by choosing all-terrain or mud tires. Moreover, reducing tire pressure is also advisable. A steady speed will also help in maintaining control of the vehicle.
The Bottom Line
In a nutshell, driving over rutted tracks can be challenging. But by following these tips, one can easily tackle these challenges. Making early preparations will help you in case of an emergency. Driving at a steady speed with the right tires prevents your vehicle from getting stuck.
Moreover, if the terrain seems challenging, it’s always best to change course while you still can.
1: Derham, C. F., Newell, R., & Swift, P. M. (1988). The use of silica for improving tread grip in winter tyres. NR Technology, 19(HS-040 650). Available Form:
2: Tandy, D. F., Bae, J., Colborn, J., & Coleman, C. (2016). An analysis of recreational off-road vehicle tire performance characteristics. SAE International Journal of Passenger Cars-Mechanical Systems, 9(2016-01-1635), 839-860. Available form: