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Cadence Braking


When travelling down steep descents it is advisable to be in the lowest possible gear and allow the vehicle to "walk" down the hill. However it is occasionally necessary to assist the slowing down of the vehicle by applying the foot brake. Continuous application of this brake can lead to the wheels locking up and the driver loosing control of the vehicle.


Cadence braking is the intermittent application of the foot brake using short hard (depending on the circumstances) application and quick release of the pedal. It can be used as often as is necessary. This art can be practiced on easy descents until one feels comfortable with the process.




Limited Slip Differential


The basic principle is that torque is transferred from the wheel that has no traction to the wheel that has, thereby maintaining the vehicles momentum.


Central Diff-Lock


Vehicles that are fitted with permanent four-wheel drive are fitted with this device. The basic workings are that this system locks up the front and back prop shafts so that they in fact turn at the same speed.




This is a mechanical means of ensuring that both wheels on an axle turn at the same speed. In other words the exact same amount of torque is transmitted to each wheel regardless of whether the other one has traction or not.


Recovery Points


The fitting of points to your 4x4 where Tow ropes or shackles can be attached is of the utmost importance.


The practice of people attaching Snatch straps to their tow balls is nothing short of suicidal and should never be used for this purpose. It is also extremely important that you know exactly where the points are located so that you do not waste time in an emergency. All of your recovery equipment must be close at hand when travelling off road so that it is quickly available when necessary. It is also a good idea to have high lift jacking points attached to your 4x4 even if you do not own a hi-lift jack. There will more often than not always be a vehicle in your group that does have a hi lifter and they can often be an absolute godsend in certain circumstances.


Stall Starting


People regularly enquire as to the exact manner in which this process should be carried out. This method of gaining momentum is used when you have stalled your 4x4 on a steep uphill, but can also be used in a downhill situation. It shall be explained from a situation where the vehicle has stalled (for whatever reason) and is stationary with the driver's foot placed firmly on the brake pedal and the left foot OFF the clutch.


Uphill in Low Range


With your foot on the brake leaving the clutch, apply the hand brake firmly. Without releasing the foot brake slowly depress the clutch. The foot and hand break will hold the vehicle. Engage reverse. Slowly release the clutch. Check that the area around the vehicle is safe and that your wheels are pointed in the direction in which you want to reverse. Release the hand brake slowly and then release the foot brake slowly. You are now being held by your engines compression. Keep your left foot AWAY from the clutch. Start the engine. You will immediately start to reverse but will be moving slowly due to the compression of the engine. Reverse until it is safe to reattempt.


Downhill in low range


As per the Uphill section, but instead of using reverse use first gear low range.




Solid or Live Axle


The best examples of this are the Land Rover and Land Cruiser. It is a solid tube like axle, housing the differential and side shafts with a wheel on each end. It can be attached by numerous methods to the chassis of the car.


Independent Suspension


The wheels of these vehicles are attached onto the body/chassis by suspension linkages. Each wheel is able to move up or down independently of the others.


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Off-Road  Terms


Approach Angle


This is the angle at which an obstacle may be approached before the vehicle will touch it. The mounting of Nudge Bars or similar fittings can impair this angle. It is also known as the attack angle. 


Departure Angle


This is the angle at which you can leave an obstacle. It can also be hindered by the fitting of bumpers, tow bars etc.


Ramp Angle


This is the most difficult angle to explain. It is the angle of an obstacle that will clear under the belly of the vehicle.


Roll Over Angle


This is self-explanatory and is the side angle that the vehicle will tilt over, before rolling.




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