Dealing with ascents and descents in a 4×4

By 17th Sep 2018 Sep 21st, 2018 Terrain Crossing
ascents and descents

Dealing with ascents and descents in a 4×4

Establish your line before tackling an ascent or descent on a slope. Gradient and traction are critical here.

Tackle the slope head-on to keep the vehicle level. If you go diagonally, your vehicle’s centre of gravity comes into play. With a lack of traction the vehicle could slide or roll over.


  • Check the terrain to establish your approach using your spotter, if it is smooth and not too steep, use gentle momentum.
  • If it is rutted, potholed and rocky a low gear and less momentum should do the trick.
  • Avoid bounce especially with independent suspension: this will cause a loss of traction.
  • Be cautious when using 1st gear low-range on smoother surfaces as you may get wheel spin.
  • Avoid gear changes and the momentary loss of traction.
  • As you approach the crest, decelerate to avoid wheel spin and bounce.


  • Check your line using your spotter.
  • Select the lowest gear to ensure a controlled descent. Avoid using the brake or clutch.
  • Disengage the handbrake and release the clutch. Use engine braking/compression in a descent for control.
  • If you start to run away, cadence brake to slow you down without sliding.
  • Do not use your brake in a slide as this worsens the slide, rather accelerate to bring the vehicle under control.
  • Do not change gears as the loss of grip coupled with forward momentum, could be disastrous.

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