Mudding in the rain may sound like a strange idea to folks that are not participants in off-roading activities. In fact, mudding may be something they have never heard about, to begin with, never mind having some golden rules to abide by!
Here are the 9 golden rules of mudding in the rain:
- Learn Mud Driving Skills Without Rain
- Know Your Mud!
- Don’t Drive Above Your Skill Level
- Never Drive Mud Pits Of Unknown Depth
- Whatever You Do, Don’t Stop!
- Know Your Vehicle’s Limitations
- Only Use 4WD Vehicles
- Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Properly Equipped For Mudding
- Clean Your Vehicle At The End Of A Days Mudding
Let’s examine these rules in more detail to make sure you’re ready for mudding in the rain safely. But first, what is mudding?
What is Mudding?
Mudding is an offshoot of off-roading that specializes in driving circuits, trails, or courses that are essentially one big mud pool! The activity originated in the USA and Canada and has proved to be so popular that governing bodies such as the American Mud Racing Association have been established to oversee the sport!
Early mudding vehicles were pickup trucks or SUV’s that had modified suspensions and specialized mudding tires fitted. Engines were also modified to produce additional power for the activity. Today, mudding is popular with many different types of off-road vehicles, from the popular Unimogs to pickup trucks, SUVs, Monster Trucks, ATVs, and, to a limited extent, dirt bikes.
While mudding has grown into a competitive sport, many people participate in the activity as weekend enthusiasts, just for the sheer fun of it! It is a growing activity, particularly in rural areas where availability of the space required for mudding is more accessible.
Mudding requires a whole new skill set, both for driving and vehicle care. Adding rain to the mix changes the whole dynamic and requires additional care. As a beginner or someone who may be interested in getting into mudding, we have written up some guidelines that we consider the 9 golden rules of mudding in the rain. Hopefully, these golden rules will help you have a safer, enjoyable mudding experience in the rain!
Learn Mud Driving Skills Without Rain
The average suburban driver has probably never put rubber to dirt, much less mud, in their driving experience! Mud driving requires a whole new driving skill set to navigate the slippery mess safely and come out on the other side! Rain only increases the challenge of mud driving, so it is recommended to learn mud driving skills without the complication of rain as a first step.
Some of the new skills you will need to acquire will include the following.
- How to steer your vehicle in mud, particularly when negotiating bends or corners.
- Learning to control the right amount of gas to apply
- Balancing speed and momentum
- When and when not to apply brakes
- What to do if your wheels start spinning.
- What to do if you get stuck in the mud.
- How to counteract a slide.
You will need to add these skills to your driving repertoire to get the most out of mudding and keep your vehicle intact. It is best to learn these skills in normal controlled conditions before trying mudding in the rain. The addition of rain is a complication that changes the nature of the mud and the way your vehicle responds. It is best to have the basic mud driving skills down pat before attempting to add additional degrees of difficulty.
The aspects mentioned above are the basics needed, but you will learn all manner of tips and tricks along the way. For example, it is a good idea to have your windscreen wipers running before you hit the mud; otherwise, mud splash covering the windscreen will instantly obscure your view. This is a surprise you don’t need!
Know Your Mud!
I’ll bet you have never given much thought to the fact that there are different types of mud! There are in fact several types of mud. These different types of mud each have their own characteristics and all require different driving techniques to get through.
Let’s investigate some of the mud types you may encounter and how you may need to adjust to the different conditions.
- Clay mud. Clay mud is particularly nasty stuff. It clings to everything! The big problem here is the treads of your tires. Clay mud will coat clog up the treads on your tires, effectively removing their advantage and making your tires slick. This causes you to lose traction for forward momentum and slip and slide all over the track. Clay mud you can almost float across with the right tire choice and inflation level. Adding rain to clay mud changes its consistency and if there is enough rain, it could become watery mud.
- Sandy mud. Sand mud can be very deceiving. It the sand is not too wet, the weight of the vehicle may compact the mud under the tires, squeezing the water out enough to produce sufficient traction. Additional water from rain can change this type of mud into a type of quicksand that just sucks your vehicle in.
- Watery mud. While watery mud is probably the easiest to drive through, it is often difficult to gauge the depth. It can also hide hidden dangers such as deep holes, boulders, and tree stumps that may damage your vehicle. Additional rain may change the depth of mud holes that you previously could drive through without a problem. The added, unexpected depth may catch you by surprise and get into parts of your vehicle that will cause damage.
The nature of the mud you will be driving through will determine the number of tactics you will employ. This will range from your tire choice and tread type to the inflation level of your tires.
Adding rain to the mix may change many of these choices. You need to know how rain affects the mud type you will be negotiating and whether you need to change your tires or driving technique to accommodate the changing conditions.
Don’t Drive Above Your Skill Level
While this point may seem obvious and a no-brainer, you will be surprised how many people get themselves in a pickle by ignoring this rule!
Some people get tempted to try obstacles beyond their skill level by the taunts of fellow drivers, or they may feel they don’t want to lose face, or that they have something to prove! Approaching mudding with this kind of attitude, particularly mudding in the rain, is courting disaster!
The kind of damage you can inflict on your vehicle with this kind of foolhardy behavior may be serious! It can render your vehicle damaged at best with an expensive repair and at worst, damaged beyond repair.
Don’t be one of those people who tempt fate and go beyond their skill level. The potential price you could pay is not worth it! Rather stay humble, put your ego in your pocket, and go home with a sound vehicle than take an unnecessary risk and lose your vehicle to an unwise choice.
Never Drive Mud Pits Of Unknown Depth
The depth of mud pits, especially those that are full of watery mud are very difficult to gauge. Don’t drive through a mud pit of unknown depth.
Watery mud pits can conceal obstacles quite effectively, and you may only discover these once it is too late. They can be deeper than they look or contain logs and large rocks that could damage your vehicle.
Driving into a mud pit that is deeper than you thought may put your vehicle out of its depth so to speak! Mud and water can flow into cold air intake systems, flood engine compartments, and short out electronics. Muddy water entering engines and other components such as transmissions can result is extensive and expensive damage.
One way to check out the depth of a mud pit is to watch someone go through it ahead of you with a similar vehicle. Watch how the depth affects their vehicle so you can determine how well yours will fare. Failing that, you can take off your shoes and walk the pit, probing it with a stick to determine the depth. Rather get muddy feet than take an unnecessary risk with your vehicle!
The problem that rain adds to the equation is that it further obscures the mud pit making it difficult to gauge. It also has the potential to wash obstacles and debris into the pit that were not there that last time you drove the course.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Stop!
Forward momentum is your friend when driving a vehicle through the mud! One of the biggest mistakes that nervous beginner mud drivers make is that they lose valuable forward momentum. They do this by either stopping because they are unsure, or slowing down too much.
Slowing down too much causes the vehicle to lose forward momentum and sink into the mud. Slowing down allows the mud to cling to the tires, increases drag, and reduces the efficiency of the tires. Once drag overpowers traction, the vehicle bogs down and in effect, you are stuck in the mud!
The speed at which you tackle a mud pit is very much determined by what kind of mud you are dealing with. This comes back to the point of knowing your mud and the appropriate speed for traversing this mud! Much of this comes with experience and trying things on a smaller scale, but much information can be gained by observing how others successfully get through the mud, or not!
Know Your Vehicle’s Limitations
It is very important to know your vehicle’s characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses, before taking it out on a mudding circuit. Things like wading depth, types of air intake systems, exhaust outlets, and differential breather holes can determine how well your vehicle will fare in a mud pit.
These specifications will give you the knowledge to determine whether or not a mud pit of a certain depth or type of mud is within your vehicle’s capability. The wiser option is to know this information and not to guess at it. If you make a wrong guess, the decision could cost you dearly!
Rain can alter the playing field significantly, changing mud viscosity, and depth of mud pits. If the status of the terrain has changed due to rain, it may put the obstacles out outside the limitations of your vehicle. Rather sit on the sidelines and enjoy the show! This option is more favorable than the alternative!
Tires are a good example of this. If you started the day out with tires suitable for the conditions, but rain during the day has changed those conditions, rather call it a day. Running on ties not made for the conditions is taking an unnecessary risk of damage to your vehicle!
Only Use 4WD Vehicles
As most people know, four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles are made for off-roading. It is the purpose the technology was developed!
Two-wheel drive cars struggle off-road, and just plain don’t cut it when it comes to mud! Most two-wheel-drive cars manufactured today are front-wheel drive vehicles and they are even worse in the mud than rear-wheel drive, two-wheel drive cars!
Two-wheel drive vehicles simply lack the traction afforded by four-wheel drive to get through the mud. Front-wheel drive vehicles have a problem because it is important for the main drive wheels to stay in a straight line in mud, and that is very difficult to achieve with these vehicles!
Two-wheel drives can handle a certain level of muddy terrain, but nowhere near the conditions encountered in mudding!
Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Properly Equipped For Mudding
If you are going to enjoy mudding as an activity, preparation is the key! This may involve adding aftermarket components, customizing or modifying parts and components to ensure your vehicle can withstand the rigors of mudding.
Manufacturers have started producing add-ons and customizations for a wide range of off-road vehicles that go a long way to protecting them in mudding conditions.
Specialist parts for lubrication, exhaust, air intakes, transmissions, and differentials can be found for most of the vehicles used in this activity.
It is most definitely worth the time and money to add these protective measures to your vehicle. It not only protects your vehicle but improves your vehicle’s capability, allowing you to take on more challenging obstacles.
Clean Your Vehicle At The End Of A Days Mudding
This point can sometimes be a real drag! It is probably safe to say that it is the least enjoyable part of mudding, especially in the rain!
Neglecting this important chore, however, can cause you some trouble! Mud, particularly dried mud, is abrasive and can scratch glass and paintwork! If you allow the mud to dry, you are merely increasing the amount of labor needed to remove it.
Don’t rely on the rain to wash the grime off your vehicle, it will not get into all the small spaces and wash out the mud.
Mud has a high moisture content, which if left on too long can promote the onset of rust! Mud that has dried on moving parts and the suspension can result in rapid wear of those components or even cause them to fail.
It is strongly recommended that the mud be cleaned from your vehicle at the end of the day and components adequately lubricated.
Knowledge is power and hopefully, we have armed you with enough knowledge with our 9 golden rules of mudding in the rain to ensure that you get the most out of you mudding in the rain experience safely, without taking away any of the fun!
You also need to ensure that you have the right equipment in your recovery kit in case you have an issue with your 4×4 or truck while out mudding or if you get stuck. You can check out our recommended gear for mudding here to help you out of those sticky situations.
Happy mudding in the rain!