In addition to providing an excellent on-road driving experience, your vehicle excels at all types of off-road driving. The truck has been designed and equipped to allow you to explore those places where the road doesn’t take you, whether it’s a forest trail or the open desert. Before going off-roading, consult with your local governmental agencies to determine designated off-road trails and recreation areas. Also, be sure to understand any off-road vehicle registration requirements for the area in which you plan on driving.
Tread Lightly is an educational program designed to increase public awareness of land-use regulations and responsibilities in our nation’s wilderness areas. Ford joins the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in encouraging you to help preserve our national forest and other public and private lands by treading lightly.
Before taking your vehicle off-roading, a basic vehicle inspection should be conducted to make sure that the vehicle is in peak operating condition.
It is always recommended that at least two vehicles are used while off-roading. The buddy system helps make sure that help is close at hand should a vehicle become stuck or damaged. It is also wise to take supplies such as a first aid kit, drinking water, tow strap, cell or satellite phone with you any time an off-road excursion is planned.
Remove the front license plate before off-roading to achieve optimal performance.
Basic Off-road Driving Techniques
- Grip the steering wheel with thumbs on the outside of the rim. This will reduce the risk of injury due to abrupt steering wheel motions that occur when negotiating rough terrain. Do not grip the steering wheel with thumbs inside the rim.
- Throttle, brake and steering inputs should be made in a smooth and controlled manner. Sudden inputs to the controls can cause loss of traction or upset the vehicle, especially while on sloped terrain or while crossing obstacles such as rocks or logs.
- Look ahead on your route noting upcoming obstacles, changes to surface texture, color changes and any other factors which may indicate a change in available traction. Adjusting the vehicle speed and route accordingly. During pre-run, mark obstacles with GPS markers to make sure appropriate speeds are used to avoid potential vehicle damage.
- When driving off-road, if the front or rear suspension is bottoming-out and/or excessive contact with the skid-plates is encountered, reduce vehicle speed to avoid potential damage to the vehicle.
- When running with other vehicles, it is recommended that some form of radio communication is used so the lead vehicle can notify others of obstacles that could cause damage.
- Always keep available ground clearance in mind and pick a route that minimizes the risk of catching the underside of the vehicle on an obstacle.
- When negotiating low speed obstacles, applying light brake pressure in conjunction with the throttle will help prevent the vehicle from lurching and will allow you to negotiate the obstacle in a more controlled manner. Using 4L will also help with this.
- Use and equip supplemental safety equipment as discussed later in this chapter, see High Speed Off-Roading.
- Please consult your local off-road group for other helpful tips.
- Off-roading requires a high degree of concentration. Even if your local law does not prohibit alcohol use while driving off-road, Ford strongly recommends against drinking alcohol if you plan to off-road.
- Review the path ahead before attempting to cross any obstacles. It is best if the obstacles are reviewed from outside the vehicle so that there is a good understanding of the terrains condition both in front of and behind the obstacles.
- Approach obstacles slowly and slowly creep the vehicle over.
- If a large obstacle such as a rock cannot be avoided, choose a path that places the rock directly under the tire rather than the undercarriage of the vehicle. This will help prevent damage to the vehicle.
- Ditches and washouts should be crossed at a 45 degree angle, allowing each wheel to independently cross the obstacle.
Extreme care should be used when steering the vehicle in reverse down a slope so as not to cause the vehicle to swerve out of control.|
- Always attempt to climb a steep hill along the fall line of the slope and not diagonally.
- If the vehicle is unable to make it up the hill, DO NOT attempt to turn back down the slope. Place the vehicle in low range and slowly back down in reverse.
- When descending a steep slope, select low gear and engage trail control. Use the throttle and brake pedals to control your descent speed as described earlier in this section using trail control. Note that trail control is functional in reverse and should be used in this situation.
Your vehicle is designed to operate in water depths up to
32 in (810 mm). However, as the water depth increases, vehicle speed must be reduced to avoid potential vehicle damage.
- Always determine the depth before attempting a water crossing.
- Proceed slowly and avoid splashing water any more than is necessary.
- Be aware that obstacles and debris may be beneath the water’s surface.
- Keep the doors fully closed during the water crossing.
- Upon completion of the water crossing, slowly drive a short distance and check the brakes for full effectiveness.
Refer to chart below for the maximum allowable speeds when driving through water.
Failure to follow the recommended speeds may result in vehicle damage.
||Maximum Allowable Vehicle Speed
|6 in (150 mm)
||40 mph (65 km/h)
|8 in (200 mm)
||31 mph (50 km/h)
|10 in (250 mm)
||19 mph (30 km/h)
|12 in (300 mm)
||8 mph (12 km/h)
|18 to 32 in (450 mm to 810 mm)
||4 mph (7 km/h)
|Reverse – up to 30 in (760 mm)
||Less than 6 mph (10 km/h)
High Speed Off-Roading
The off-road driving discussed thus far has focused on the type of events typically encountered during slow speed off-road driving conditions. Your vehicle provides excellent performance in a full size pick-up truck during these slower speed conditions, but truly excels at higher speed baja style off-road driving. High speed off-roading presents a unique challenge, but extra care and caution should be taken before engaging in this type of driving.
If you plan on using the truck for severe, high speed off-road use, the following is recommended:
- Equip your truck with the safety equipment used for the Stock-Full Class as defined in the rule books for SCORE International Off-Road Racing (www.score-international.com).
- Use personal safety equipment including a SNELL SA certified helmet and approved neck restraint device.
- Before venturing off-road in unfamiliar areas at high speeds, do a low speed reconnaissance run (prerun) to become aware of any obstacles that you will encounter.
Ford Performance has engineered your vehicle for off-road use beyond what is normal for a F-150. However, it can incur damage if driven beyond its capabilities. Skid plates, shock guards and running boards were designed to help limit damage to vital components and exterior finishes, but cannot prevent all damage if driven in extreme off-road conditions. Damage to skid plates, shock guards, running boards and exterior finishes as well as bent, cracked or broken body, frame and chassis components may not be covered by warranty.
It is important that you take the time to become familiar with the controls and dynamics of your vehicle before attempting higher speed off-roading.
Some points to consider:
- Build up speed slowly. Initially, drive at a pace which allows ample time to fully assess the terrain around you and to understand how the vehicle is responding to both the terrain and driver inputs. Increase pace as comfort increases while always being mindful of how the vehicle is responding to various events at different speeds.
- Find a wide open place to experiment with different functions on the truck. Try a given maneuver with different vehicle settings (4H vs. 4L), (differential locked vs. unlocked), (AdvanceTrac in key-on vs. single press vs. press and hold modes) and see how the truck responds. Start slowly and build pace as comfort increases.
- Similarly, in a wide open space, experiment with different driving techniques. For example, if the vehicle is tending to push straight ahead when trying to negotiate a turn (understeering or plowing), a light application of the brake while turning may help rotate the truck. A wider entry to the corner or entering the corner more slowly may help the truck turn and allow you to apply the throttle sooner after negotiating the turn.
- Remember the phrase "smooth is fast". This refers to your steering, throttle, and brake movements. Smooth decisive movements will yield improved results while helping to increase safety.
- As speed increases, it is wise to look farther ahead of the vehicle so that there is time to react to oncoming obstacles. Remember that in many off-road environments, obstacles will be hard to see until they are relatively near. A good strategy is to alternate between looking far ahead and up closer to the front of the vehicle as you’re driving.
- Also remember to drive what you can see. This refers to not driving faster than you are able to negotiate unforeseen upcoming obstacles. This could refer to obstacles over a brow, in a ravine, in brush, in dusty conditions, and in the darkness among others.
- If you are driving in a dusty area, be sure to leave ample distance between you and any other vehicles to allow for adequate vision.
- Always remember that you may not be the only one in a particular recreational area, always be cognizant of others in your area. This is especially true of motorcycles and ATV’s which may be more difficult to spot than a full-sized vehicle.
- If driving in desert conditions, it is advised that you always drive with your headlights on to help other drivers more easily see you.
- While driving in desert conditions, the midpoint of the day is the most difficult time to see many of the small ridges and dips due to flat shadows from the sun being at its highest point. Extreme care should be taken at these times to not inadvertently run into these obstacles.
- It is highly encouraged that you switch to off-road mode for off road operation. Please see the Terrain Control section of this supplement for more details.
After Off-Road Driving
It is important to complete a full vehicle inspection after off-road driving. Some items to check include:
- Make sure that tires are inflated to proper tire pressure as indicated on the tire placard.
- Check the wheels and undercarriage for built up mud or debris which can cause vehicle vibration.
- Make sure that the grille and radiator are clear of any obstructions that may affect cooling.
- Make sure that the brakes are in proper working order and free of any mud, stones and debris, which can become trapped around the brake rotor, backing plate and caliper.
- Check that the air filter is clean and dry.
- Inspect for torn or punctured boots on ball joints, half shafts, steering gears.
- Inspect exhaust system for damage or looseness.
- Inspect undercarriage fasteners. If any are loose or damaged, tighten or replace ensuring that the proper torque specification is used.
- Inspect the tires for any cuts in the tread or sidewall area. Also inspect the sidewall for any bulge indicating damage to the tire.
- Inspect the wheels for dents, cracks, or other damage.
- Refit the front license plate if removed previously.