Ford’s Desert Driving Tips, Episode 6: Getting Out of Sticky Situations
The desert is an enjoyable place to drive but the risk of getting stuck is omnipresent. It happens, and it happens to even the most experienced drivers from time to time. Your turn will come, and having a decent grasp of a few basic techniques will have you back underway before you know it.
In the sixth and final episode of Ford’s Desert Driving Tips series, Ford’s in-house experts cover a few driving tips that will help drivers to ‘self-recover’ their vehicle should they get stuck.
“The first thing you really need to do is get out of the car and assess how badly you’re stuck, the angle your vehicle is sitting at, and how deep the sand is. That way, you’ll know what you need to do,” said series co-host Mike Chavez, Product Development Lead Technologist for Ford Middle East and Africa.
Fellow series co-host Christoph Baur, Powertrain engineering Supervisor for Ford MEA, added, “If you think you can make it out by yourself, you will need some techniques to get unstuck.”
That may include removing some of the sand from under the vehicle; adding traction under the wheels (sand ladders, mats, branches) to help drive out of trouble, or attempting to drive out by using the rocking, wriggling or lift and fill techniques.
The rocking technique happens in 4L mode. Using first and reverse gears, you gently move the car back and forth to help smooth a path that will help you to generate the momentum you need to pull out of the sand.
Wriggling also happens in 4L, and you’ll need first or reverse gear (remembering to use gravity to your advantage). Holding constant RPM (between 1000-1500rpm), turn from lock to lock without spinning your wheels. The idea is that the sand will build beneath your tyres and help lift the car out of the sand. You need to be patient with this technique because progress can be quite slow.
You may find that you need to jack or use an airbag to lift the frame of the car off the sand before filling the space under the tyres with sand, stones or anything else that will give you a bit of traction.
“We’ve all been stuck in the desert, and it’s just a matter of time and help from some friends, a little experience and you’re going to get out,” said Chavez.
“I see a lot of people try to get themselves out of trouble by using the throttle. They think that because they have tons of power they can get out of trouble. The reality is, they’re not going forward, they’re just going deeper into the sand.
“You never stop learning how to drive in the desert, you just gather more information. No-one gets stuck in the sand forever – it’s a temporary situation and something we can easily overcome,” Chavez concluded.