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March Mudding Madness

According to some rodent in Pennsylvania, as well as a bunch of the superstitious folks that we follow on Facebook, spring is due early this year. Along with the flowers and the sparrows and the other cutsey things you find on the front of Mother’s Day greeting cards, springtime also brings the mudding season, mainly due to the natural phenomena of melting snow and rainstorms.

While this can make a mess of your landscaping, it also turns our trails and dirt roads into hilariously soupy playgrounds. Your drunken cousin will make some ridiculous suggestion like, “Wind her ‘till the valves float, sidestep the clutch, and hang on,” copious gobs of muck will fly from your treads, and your truck will take on handling characteristics that seem to defy physics. Mud may, in fact, be one of the most entertaining surfaces upon (or in) which to drive.

Aside from the standard off-roading precautions like never traveling alone and always having recovery gear, mudding runs require a unique set of preparations. In no particular order, here are our suggestions for maximizing you bogging experience without getting (too terribly) stuck:

Dress the Mudding Part:

It’s sloppy out there so old clothes and beefy boots are going to be your friend here. Chances are, you or someone in your group is going to get stuck and you will have to walk around in the goo at some point. Also, check the weather and bring extra layers. Remember that 65, dry, and sunny feels a lot different when it suddenly turns wet and shady.

Chunky, Wide, and Soft:

No, we’re not taking about your ex, we’re talking about your tires. Those big, luggy tires that are annoying on pavement turn out to be awesome in the slop. A wide tread section helps them ‘float’ over the gunk, rather than burying themselves into it and airing them down maximizes that contact patch. Just remember that you will probably need to hit pavement at some point to get back home so this is yet another reason that you should INVEST IN AN AIR COMPRESSOR.

Go Your Own Way:

Obviously, you want to stick to the trail whenever possible but when you encounter a big, rutted mudding hole, sometimes it’s best to get a little creative. Before you dive in, hop out and scope the scene. Pick the straightest line possible since excessive steering inputs can drag you down. Also, try and avoid the gnarly ruts since they have a tendency to swallow things like frame rails and drivetrain components.

Keep Things Moving:

Steady, forward momentum is the name of the game here as it’s what gets you to the other side. If your tires start to break loose, let off the throttle a little but don’t hit the brakes. Sometimes, ‘sawing’ the steering wheel back and forth slightly can clear the treads to help the tires grab again. If forward progress is completely halted, don’t just sit there and floor it: that will just clog the treads and cause the truck to sink deeper. Try backing up a few feet and going forward again. You might only pick up a little distance on each rock but gains are gains.

The Aftermath of Mudding:

As cool as it looks all muddied up, you will want to thoroughly wash your truck as soon as possible. Mud can wreak havoc on brake parts, electrical components, and bearing seals if left to dry and harden. Check your fluids, especially the axles, gearbox and transfer case. If there’s any sign of mud contamination in any fluid, change it immediately. Also, service any non-sealed wheel bearings and grease up any serviceable ball joints and bushings that might be under there.

 

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