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Get your off-road vehicle ready for winter

Just because summer has come to an end doesn't mean your off-roading experiences have to. In fact, some of the most fun and thrilling adventures can take place in the fall and winter, but you have to be prepared to handle the challenges that go along with cold, inclement weather. With heavy snows, slick fallen leaves and ice covering all types of surfaces, it is extremely important that all drivers take steps so they are ready to drive in any scenario. 

While advanced drivers likely have a winter driving routine down pat, those who are in the beginning stages of off-roading may need a little guidance. Here are a few of the most important tips to keep in mind: 

Tires are important
The tires and tire pressure are two of the most vital aspects of handling an off-road vehicle in rough conditions. Snow tires are a common addition to many vehicles, while other drivers may want to stick with constantly examining tire tread to confirm they are able to grip any surface. Paying attention to the wear and alignment of the tires and rotating them as you see fit can improve the performance of a vehicle in fall or winter. 

Be conscious of four-wheel drive
Many drivers will turn to four-wheel drive to expertly maneuver their truck or SUV around on snow or ice. This can be a major boon in difficult driving conditions, but all motorists should keep in mind that having four-wheel drive does not aid in braking. Leave plenty of room to brake on and off pavement. You may also want to consider reverting back to two-wheel drive when going downhill. This will allow the rear wheels to slow the vehicle as the front wheels propel it forward, striking a nice balance that can enhance stability. 

Better headlights could make a difference
Another area you may want to upgrade before winter arrives is your vehicle's headlights. Being able to make your way through difficult conditions is of paramount importance, and having the right equipment can be a huge help in these situations. 

An intriguing option for many drivers is LED headlights. This gear is generally brighter and more energy efficient, allowing you to accurately see the obstacles that lay before you, regardless of the weather. LED lights boast a unique light pattern and a bright white color, and these two qualities work together to offer superior visibility. Making truck mods or alterations to an SUV to add these lights is relatively easy as well, as many kits come with all of the materials you need to upgrade your lights. 

Check the ventilation
Before the weather gets too cold, you should examine the HVAC system to ensure the heating and ventilation are functioning at a high level. Not only are you going to want the heat for the vehicle's cabin to be able to foster a comfortable driving environment, but you should also be checking to make sure the vehicle is cycling out potentially harmful exhaust. More than likely, all windows will be closed during the winter, and knowing the HVAC system is working properly can prevent dangerous or uncomfortable situations. 

Stay on the lookout for black ice
You know black ice can be a dangerous thing to encounter on the roads, but it can be just as harmful off-roading as well. In areas where the sun is blocked and the temperature can drop, such as spaces you will find in the wilderness or near nature trails, black ice is more common. So when you're taking part in off-road driving, you should make a conscious effort to slow down and pay attention to the area in front of you to locate black ice.