As a Jeep owner, there may come a time that you wish to have your first off road experience. This is sometimes referred to as your “First Jeep Newbie Run.” This article will review some tips and experiences of my first newbie run with my local Jeep club, in the hopes that it may encourage you to do the same. This is also illustrated in the video at this link.
DISCLAIMER: Any and all content provided on this site and YouTube channel is Cheaper JeeperTV’s opinion and for educational and discussion purposes only. Seek a professional’s advice where appropriate for your vehicle.
Why Join Your Local Jeep Club to Do A Jeep Newbie Run
As a Jeep owner, if you haven’t experienced the challenges and thrill of driving off road, joining a local Jeep club can help you. Doing so can introduce you to like minded Jeep fans that have the knowledge and experience of offroading.
What I Learned on My Jeep Newbie Run
The Newbie Run is the term used by most clubs where new members are invited to join other members of a local club on a challenging yet manageable off road trail, for the uninitiated. Leaders of the club will provide initial instructions but also coaching along the way. I share below a list of the experiences and things I learned along the way in my first Newbie Run.
Deflate Tires to ~ 20-21lbs
After initial introductions, the first thing we were instructed to do before we were to embark on the trail, was to deflate the tires of the Jeep to about 20-21lbs. This was to provide a more cushioned ride and provide more grip surface between the tire and the trail. Doing this also dictates that you have a good 12V air compressor tire inflator to inflate your tires when the Newbie Run is over. Reinflating the tires ensures a safe ride home.
Disconnect Your Sway Bar Links
Another instruction was to disconnect the sway bar links. Sway bars are in place to afford a smooth ride for your Jeep on typical roads. Disconnecting the sway bar links allows the suspension to extend more in deep ruts, providing more traction on a trail run. An 18 mm socket and wrench are required. Unless of course you have a Rubicon, which has an electronic sway bar disconnect system. The image below shows the bolts and nuts that must be removed for the two sway bar links of the suspension. Once disconnected, the sway bar links can be zip-tied out of the way for the duration of the trail run. Be sure to keep both bolts and nuts in a safe place so that you can reconnect the sway bar link for a safe ride home.
Put the Transfer Case in 4Low
For most of the trail you may be required to have your Jeep’s transfer case set to 4Low. This is helpful when navigating steep inclines and slopes. Learning to switch through L1 through to L3 enables smooth progress through the trail with limited pressure on brake use.
Don’t Drive Your Differential Into Large Protruding Rocks
As we began our trail run, this instruction seemed obvious. Essentially, the front and rear differentials are the lowest items of your Jeep and the most likely items to make contact with any protruding rocks. The strategy shared with us Newbies was to drive your tire onto any protruding rocks to lift your Jeep over any hazards if you were unsure of the clearance between said protruding rock and your differential.
Keep One Side of the Jeep on Dry Land when Traversing a Mud Hazzard
When possible, it is advisable to try and keep one side of the Jeep on dry land when traversing a mud hazard. This would provide necessary traction to a front and rear tire should the mud hazard be too deep. If you have to keep in the middle of the mud hazard, it’s good to keep some momentum as you move through the hazard, but don’t go too fast, as you never know if there is a large rock in there.
Share the Trail
Often there are other types of off road vehicles, like motorcycles and ATVs that use the trails, and it’s good to be careful in sharing the trail to avoid any collisions.
The Aftermath of My Jeep Newbie Run
Most Newbie Runs should be pretty tame, but it doesn’t mean your Jeep wont get dirty. Given the weather and the trail involved, mud splatter may be unavoidable. A little surface mud isn’t a big deal, but should your radiator get coated in mud, be sure to get it hosed off before your engine gets overheated on the drive home. Also, before you head home, make sure you reinflate your tires and reattach your sway bar links so that you make it home safely.
Before you know it, the day is done, and you had a ton of fun stretching your Jeep and yourself to the limits…slightly. You may even get thoughts of going on another more challenging run next time.
If the brief review of instructions, experiences and images above motivates you to take your Jeep off road, then I would encourage you to do it through your local Jeep club. You’ll meet like minded Jeep fans, benefit from their experience, and avoid any potential costly mistakes if you were to embark on such an adventure yourself.