Off-roading is insanely popular and as with anything that’s popular, myths on what is better and what can/can’t hurt your truck abound. Most of these come from old timers that had a certain way of doing things and argued against any other ideas, but some are newer and come from a simple lack of understanding about the sport.
There are hundreds of myths big and small out there regarding off-roading and while we don’t have nearly enough time to cover them all, we can hit up five of the most common.
More Horsepower is Better
This is probably the biggest off-road myth that needs busting. More horsepower does not equal more off-road prowess, and higher horsepower can actually make off-roading more difficult and dangerous. Remember, horsepower is far less important when talking about off-roading but torque is your friend. The more torque the better, but even this can get ridiculous at a point.
Some of the best off-road trucks you can find will have smaller displacement diesel engines. These may not win any drag races, but they’ll get you over anything that’s in your path.
Four-Wheel Drive Is Always Better
Four-wheel drive is pretty amazing, and each new model and version seems to get better and more reliable. While this is true, four-wheel drive doesn’t always make for a better ride.
Take for example ice. IF you’re out on the roads or even the trail on an icy day the only thing 4WD will do for you is make four wheels spin. Having your truck in four-wheel drive can also give you a false sense of security, making you take risks you may not otherwise take.
Just like everything else, 4WD is only as good as the driver, so don’t assume that it’s always better and remember that true driving skill always wins.
Lift Kits Improve Performance
Lift kits are made to give you ground clearance to drive over bigger things and to allow you to install larger tires. Past these two things, there are no additional performance gains. In fact, a lift kit raises the center of gravity of your truck, making it generally handle worse and more prone to rollover.
A good lift is a necessary tool that’s meant to add room for larger tires and more ground clearance for overcoming larger obstacles, plain and simple. Just because a truck is higher doesn’t mean it’s better.
Manual is Better than Automatic
This is an age-old battle fought by those truck drivers that love their having that third pedal. There’s nothing wrong with manual transmissions, but an automatic transmission is basically just a big torque converter that smoothly and automatically converts engine torque into wheel movement. With today’s technology inside of automatics, they shift faster, offer more control, and dare I say it, are all around better.
This means an automatic transmission will give better control and smoother acceleration off-road, making it better than a manual. This fact is sure to anger a few stick shift lifers, but it’s the truth. This doesn’t take the fun out of driving a manual transmission; it just means there’s no actual advantage. In short, drive the way you want, just don’t expect to be better with a manual.
Leaf Springs are Better than Coil
One of the biggest suspension myths is all about springs. It’s widely believed that leaf springs are necessary for heavy hauling or big trucks. With the way coil springs area built today this just isn’t the case. To prove this just check out the Unimog, which uses coil springs all around and is a pretty badass off-road truck.
Leaf springs are cheaper to produce, which is why they are seen on a lot of utility vehicles. Strength has nothing to do with it. This doesn’t mean you should go do a leaf spring conversion today, but it’s good to know these old-time springs are still pretty great.