Common Problems Caused By Going Off Road and 4-Wheeling

At AAMCO Colorado, we love the outdoors as much as you do. Which means we want your vehicle to drive in a safe and properly operating condition, especially when you are depending on it to take you deep into the wilderness.  If you live in  Colorado, and are looking for an experienced auto mechanic to help with your transmission repair, AC repair, brake repair, or any other automotive repair needs, please contact your local AAMCO Colorado Location to schedule an appointment.

Common Problems Caused By 4-Wheeling

Common Problems Caused By 4-Wheeling
When you live in Colorado and own a Truck or SUV, you often can’t help but go off-road. Whether you are camping, fishing, hunting,  hiking, or back country skiing, there are many instances where a vehicle is needed to get into the back country. For vehicles outfitted for 4-wheeling, this is generally not a problem.

Though many times people will drive their stock vehicles, which “can” off-road, but can lead to specific types of wear and tear on the vehicle due to the rougher conditions. Before taking your vehicle off-road, be sure that you can risk your car being damaged. Often times, people only have one vehicle which does everything for them. You don’t want to ruin your only means of transportation unless you know your vehicle will be ok.

That said, it’s important to understand what type of damage can be caused by going off-road. Now this list can comprise your entire vehicle, especially if the terrain is difficult to safely navigate. But for our purposes, and for people with regular stock vehicles which can go off-road, we are merely going to name typical problems that can arise by driving on moderately difficult trails. We’ve all seen videos of trucks attempting to climb vertically up a cliff face, but those vehicles are specialized and beyond the scope of what we’re discussing.

Problems Caused By 4-Wheeling On Moderately Difficult Terrain


As you can imagine, driving up, down, and around multiple obstacles is going to add special wear and tear to your transmission than would normally occur otherwise. This is especially true for people with manual transmission and even more so for those that don’t know how to shift properly when going off-road. Often times for manual transmissions, people will constantly keep the clutch pushed in to regulate speed and power output. But if this continues for an extended period of time over the course of a difficult trail, your transmission is going to begin to heat up, and damage can be caused to gear teeth and various other components.

Be sure that you only use the clutch when shifting, don’t use it as a coasting mechanism. If you need to slow down, use the brake. Similarly, when going uphill, people typically gun it to ensure their momentum is kept up. But this is not only excessive, but puts strain on your transmission while at the same time ruining your tires. You want to keep a constant RPM where your tires are not spinning out. If you feel you need momentum to get up a hill because your tire tread is not holding or your vehicle doesn’t have the power, think twice before gunning it. Because if you don’t make it to the top, there is only one other direction for you to go, and chances are it will be more out of your control than you would be comfortable with.


Perhaps the most typical and common problem caused by 4-wheeling is throwing your vehicles alignment off. Just imagine how many ruts and rocks you’ve romped over, chances are good that things won’t be points as true and straight as they should. In the short term, so long as the jostling is not too severe, there  won’t be much of an issue. But if you’ve done some heavy 4-Wheeling, and do it often, you are going to want to check your alignment frequently. It will save you a lot of money in the long run by extending the life span of your tires, and making any further alignment issues less of a problem because they won’t be compounded.


Tires are generally made for specific purposes in mind, whether that be for racing, 4-wheeling, or generally commuting around the city. As such, Off-Road tires are probably the best route to go for 4-wheeling, mainly because that’s what they are designed for. They are heartier, thicker, with deeper treads and generally a longer life span for off-road conditions. This helps to keep the tires from being punctured or losing air due to constant driving on uneven ground. However, no matter how sturdy the tires are, they are still going to be taking a pounding. Driving over sharp jagged rocks, with uneven vehicle weight distribution all put tremendous stress and strain on the tires. Which makes flat tires a frequent problem. Driving on flat tires, or even tires with a low level of air, can further ruin your tire rims. So ensuring your tires are ready for the task of going off-rod is paramount.

Body Damage

Scraps, scratches, dings, and dents. These are the war wounds of off-road vehicles. Marks and mars that should be worn proudly proving your vehicles 4-wheeling ability. But some people don’t like their vehicles to have such character and obvious marks. If that is the case, you mine as well leave your vehicle at the trail head because they are inevitable. Driving off-road inherently means your vehicle is going to get dirty, and chances are good it’s going to take some hits. Just be sure you’re ready for your baby to get beat up a little.

Damage To The Undercarriage

As you would imagine driving over uneven and loose terrain, the bottom of your vehicle is going to be taking some damage. Stones will be kicked up, you’ll scrape the bottom over protruding rocks, and may even high center or bottom out causing your vehicle to become stuck. All of these can cause damage to various parts under your vehicle.

Your gas tank can be dented, causing gas level sensors to read incorrectly and may even reduce the total amount of gas that it can hold. Mufflers and exhaust pipes can bent or completely ripped off if the circumstances are right.  Your suspension can be compromised, which is more likely caused by it flexing more than it can bear, but damage can also be caused by running into rocks too hard.

Finally, you can ruin the chassis structural integrity of the vehicle. This would mean you’re vehicle has taken a big hit, but your vehicles chassis is literally the skeleton of your vehicle. If you had a broken bone, anywhere on your body, wouldn’t it be noticeable and needing immediate attention? The same goes for your chassis. Any cracks or dents need to be immediately fixed because the longer it’s postponed, the worse the problem can become, and beyond that, it can cause other problems to occur.

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