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Tips and Tricks

  • Winching Basics For Off-Road Recovery

    We all have to start somewhere, right? If you're starting to venture off-road with your new Wrangler JK, don't venture far without a winch. Make learning the winching basics a top priority, and practice it before you get yourself into a real compromised situation. While there are many winch options out there, we prefer the Warn brand for it's strength, reliability and durability. Warn offers several models from base to high-end. But if you can swing it, we recommend the Warn Zeon model hands down. Click here to find out why.

    Prepare For The Unexpected

    Consider upgrading your winch hook and investing in a recovery kit to make sure you get safe, reliable performance out of your winch time after time. By outfitting yourself with the proper recovery tools and accessories, and applying correct basic winching practices, you can safely and confidently navigate obstacles, and forego a lengthy frustrating recovery when you finally do get stuck.

    While most winch systems come with a conventional hook, we recommend upgrading to a ProLink by Factor 55. This closed system keeps the winch line from slipping out of the hook. The ProLink fastens to the end of your winch line, then a D-Ring mates the ProLink to the tow strap. The ProLink is available in a variety of colors to best match your build. Factor 55 features a full line of winch accessories. You can check them all out HERE.

    5 WINCHING BASICS FOR OFF-ROAD RECOVERY

    1. Winching Basics: Locate Your Tow Points

    With many aftermarket bumpers, there are multiple winch points. The Jeep pictured below is outfitted with a full Maximus-3 build package. There are D-Ring mounts below the winch hook (shown in red), and tow hooks by the bumper hoop (also in red). On most Wrangler JK's, there are two tow hooks in the front bumper, and one in the rear. These points are great for pulling out a stuck JK with your winch. Do not attach a winch line to the OEM roll bar or any external sheet metal. Factory tow points located on the bumper and frame are the best places to hook up a winch.

    2. Winching Basics: Attach To The Anchor Point

    If you need to winch yourself out, you'll need to find something solid, like a tree or another vehicle to attach to. This is when a tow strap or tree strap comes in handy. For example, a stock vehicle may not have a tow hook, or your winch line may cut into the tree and damage it when you winch off of it. A wide, reinforced recovery strap is a much safer and more responsible option than using your winch line. Remember to forever tread lightly on land and water. Make every effort to protect the trees and land along your path and around your recovery area. View the TREAD principles for responsible four-wheeling.

    The ARB Recovery Kit, featured below is a useful accessory to have on hand. It includes D-Rings, recovery straps and a snatch block. A snatch block is used to change the direction of your winch cable when the anchor point is offset. And it gives you extra pulling power. Click here to learn how to use a snatch block.

    ARB Recovery Kit

    On Using A Land Anchor

    If there are no solid points to attach your winch to, your alternative is to use a land anchor, like the AEV Pull Pal shown below, for example. These anchors can be planted in clay, sand, soil or snow. In this case, you would plant the land anchor firmly into the ground and directly attach the winch hook and cable to the anchor handle. If you plan to get into serious off-roading or you're going to be wheelin' in the desert, you'll definitely want to invest in a top-quality winch anchor and learn how to use it properly before you go.

    Pull-Pal Winch Anchor - Winching Basics

    3. Winching Basics: On Tightening The Winch Line

    Once you've attached the winch to the winch anchor point or land anchor, turn on the vehicle. Using your winch remote, press the spool button to gently tighten the winch line. Don't over tighten. 

    4. Use Gloves, Dampener And Caution

    Use extreme caution when winching out your vehicle or a friend's. When pulling out your line, or spooling your winch in, keep your line as straight as possible and beware pinch points. Wear gloves and keep a safe distance while winding. Your fingers and hands can be crushed if pulled into the winch.

    Make sure all bystanders are clear before you begin a recovery operation. Stand clear of the winch line! It's under an enormous amount of tension. And cables are known to snap. This can prove deadly if you're standing in the wrong spot.  Also, consider using something like a jacket or towel to place over the winch line. If the line does snap, this will help dampen some of the force, keeping bystanders a bit safer.

    5. Place Vehicle In Neutral: Spool, Monitor, Straighten

    Place the vehicle in neutral and press the spool button on your winch remote. As the vehicle begins to move forward, monitor the towel or dampener, keeping it in the middle of the line. Stop or steer the vehicle, if you need to, to make sure your line is spooling straight and even. Once your vehicle is fully recovered, you're ready to unhook and stow your tools. Then, give your friends a high-five!

    Be Safe Out There!

    Remember, the key to every off-road trip is safety first. If safety isn't top of mind, serious injury to people and vehicles can and will occur. It's just the nature of our dangerously fun and favorite past time, ' four wheelin.' Play it safe and don't go off-road alone. Learn and practice the winching basics before you need to put them into serious action.

  • Wrangler Off-Road Driving Tips

    So you just bought a Wrangler JK. What's the first thing that comes to mind? Taking it off-road, of course! However, there's a few things you should know before starting out on your next adventure. Here are a few basic off-road driving tips.

    Off-road driving tips

    Never Go Off-Road Alone!

    When venturing off the beaten path, always take a friend! The more the merrier. When using and modifying your vehicle for off-road excursions, breaking down or getting stuck can and does happen. But if you follow these off-road driving tips, you can turn aggravation into fun.

    Having a friend (or a few) with tow straps, a winch, or even some shovels, can make the difference between driving out or walking home. There are several ways your vehicle can become immobilized. From puncturing a tire, improperly or hastily installed aftermarket parts (that bolt you forgot to torque down), or the classic, getting stuck in a deep mud pit, off-road problems can ruin your day of fun. But don't let this discourage you. Changing a tire or winching out is much easier with friends, and you'll have a cool story to boot. It's much more enjoyable than having to walk out to call help or a tow truck. We guarantee it!

    Off-Road Driving Tips

    Go Prepared!

    You can ride with a whole convoy of Jeeps, from the oldest CJ to the newest Wrangler JK with electronic lockers, but it'll all be moot if no one has a tow strap! Go prepared with things like tow straps, snatch-blocks, shovels, and extra D-rings. You may want to consider something like this ARB Essentials Recovery Kit, or the Warn Medium Duty Epic Recovery Kit. Both companies also offer Heavy Duty Recovery Kits.

     

    A winch can be your best friend here, too. With your winch, you should carry a good set of gloves, an extra tree/tow strap, and extra batteries for your controller (if applicable). A high-lift jack and equipment to change your tire is invaluable if you pop a bead or tear a sidewall. It's always a good idea to carry extra water and a good first aid kit too. 

    Shop Warn Winches!

    Off-Road Driving Tips

    Off-Road Driving Tips For 4x4 Wheelin'

    Most Jeep Wrangler vehicles come factory equipped with 4x--and lockers if you've got a Rubicon. Unless you're planning a big swap, you're out of luck with the few older 2-wheel drive Wrangler JK's, so double check for 4x4 before you buy a used Jeep. With open differentials, 4-Hi is fine for dirt trails or light mud, but get into a deep bog or rocks, and you may want to use 4-low. Remember to engage the 4x4 before you actually need it. You may need to move your vehicle forward a bit before 4x4 engages. Needless to say, this does you no good if you're already stuck and can't get the 4x4 to engage.

    Driving Techniques for Off-Road 4x4

    If mud is your thing, keep up your momentum. If you bog down and start spinning tires, back up and try again or pick a different route. For rocks, engage those lockers and go slow. Speed translates to breakage and dented sheet metal, especially around those big boulders at the local off-road park. Follow this off-road driving tip for a smoother off-roading experience.

    Off-Road Driving Tips for Tire Pressure

    Also, don't forget to air down your tires. Ratings vary by tire and wheel size. but an aired down tire will have a larger footprint than one with street psi. This translates to a larger gripping surface for your vehicle, and it'll usually help you climb up, over, or out of even the toughest obstacles. Beadlocks, seen below, will let you air down your tire even further, for the greatest amount of traction. A simple tire inflator with gauge makes it easy to deflate and inflate your tires. Watch this expert video for more information on tire pressure ratings for off-road driving conditions. 

    Basic Off-Road Driving Tips

    Follow Leave No Trace Principals!

    Take a trash bag. On your way out, be sure to pick up your trash. If you see any debris left behind by others, lend a hand and help keep our trails clean for the next group. Off-road trips with a properly equipped Jeep can be an unforgettable adventure for Jeep friends and family!

    Be a good steward. Visit wilderness.org for more Leave No Trace principals.

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