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Tips And Tricks For The Trail - Tech

Vice Grips
Christian Lee | Writer
Posted April 1, 2009
Contributors: Phil Howell
Photographers: Phil Howell

How To Avoid And What To Do In "Oh, Crud!" Situations

When you hit the trail it sometimes hits back. Whether it's a new dent in the quarter panel, a busted driveshaft, a broken shock mount, or more, we've all had those days when the trail got the best of us. One way to beat the odds in such situations is to be prepared for it by carrying the appropriate tools and spare parts. But once crap happens, it happens, so you can also help yourself by brushing up on some basic tips and tricks that might help you get off the trail after a mishap, or avoid such mishaps in general. If you're a leathered 'wheeler, then most of these are likely old hat to you, so consider it a refresher course in "the basics." If you're new to the trail then learn and live. It might just save your tail down the road.

Brake Line Crimp
A pair of vice grips can be used to crimp off a severed flexible brake line so the pressure within the braking system is maintained. Hard lines can also be crimped by cutting the line and mashing it closed then folding it over and crimping it with pliers.

Brighten Your Lights
Most factory headlamps become somewhat dim after accessories are added, even when heavier battery cables are used. Brighter headlamps are available and are easy to install in place of the factory sealed beam. Still, however, they still won't offer the greatest performance unless you also upgrade the headlight harness. Heat from additional amperage draw of H4 type bulbs can cause slow death to your headlight wiring harness. The connectors eventually melt and the lights will appear dimmer and dimmer until they simply stop working. ARB and Painless Performance are good sources for good quality headlight harnesses.

Get Groovy
You can gain extra traction from your tires by siping or grooving the tread blocks. By adding sipes or grooves to your tires you can create more forward biting edges that will enhance traction. Many tire shops offer tire siping services. To add grooves in large tread blocks you can purchase a hot knife and create you own tread design. It's best to practice tire grooving on an old tire before you start cutting a new set.

Wire Interchange
If your distributer fries its coil wire the engine won't run. Since you can't splice a coil wire you'll need a replacement. If one isn't available you can use one of the spark plug wires and the engine will operate on one less cylinder. This will be enough to get you to civilization, where you can replace the coil wire - or better yet, the whole set. Then you can save the old wires and carry them as spares in your rig.

Limp It Home
If the front or rear driveshaft breaks or blows a U-joint and you don't have a spare, you can still drive home - or at least get to a tow vehicle - in either front- or rear-wheel drive. Remove the offending driveshaft before operating the vehicle. You will need to keep the front hubs locked if you are operating in front-wheel drive. If the front 'shaft is broken you can simply drive home as usual.

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