Vehicle for traveling sand roads

NJSnakeMan

Explorer
Jun 3, 2004
332
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Atlantic County
Hey guys. It's Brandon Curtis. Some of you may remember my childish/novice posts from years back =P (here's another)

Anyways, I am inquiring about the types of vehicles that some of the PB forum members drive, and maybe some vehicles that you guys recommend.

For a few years I owned a 94' Thunderbird 4.6L V8 (ouch..) which was kind of cool, but definitely not suitable for traveling the really sandy roads. Of course I couldn't help myself, and as a result found myself stuck many, many, many times...

Recently I purchased a 94' Jeep Cherokee Laredo 4.0L straight 6. I did take it out quite a few times but opted to avoid the really sandy roads because it's a 2WD. I'm wondering if anyone has utilized 2WD SUV's or trucks in the barrens and what experiences they have had with them...

I didn't want to post this thread on an "off roading" website because I know what my response would be there.. I'm not into "muddin".. I just need something reliable to get from Point A to B via sand roads, VS. what I do now (drive to parking spot near Point A, hike to Point A, then hike back to parking spot, then drive to parking spot near Point B... etc...)

I'm sure all of you know what a Jeep looks like but I figured I would post a pic of mine..


Thank you in advanced for the responses.. Brandon
 

46er

Piney
Mar 24, 2004
8,384
1,875
1,093
Coastal NJ
Hey guys. It's Brandon Curtis. Some of you may remember my childish/novice posts from years back =P (here's another)

Anyways, I am inquiring about the types of vehicles that some of the PB forum members drive, and maybe some vehicles that you guys recommend.

For a few years I owned a 94' Thunderbird 4.6L V8 (ouch..) which was kind of cool, but definitely not suitable for traveling the really sandy roads. Of course I couldn't help myself, and as a result found myself stuck many, many, many times...

Recently I purchased a 94' Jeep Cherokee Laredo 4.0L straight 6. I did take it out quite a few times but opted to avoid the really sandy roads because it's a 2WD. I'm wondering if anyone has utilized 2WD SUV's or trucks in the barrens and what experiences they have had with them...

I didn't want to post this thread on an "off roading" website because I know what my response would be there.. I'm not into "muddin".. I just need something reliable to get from Point A to B via sand roads, VS. what I do now (drive to parking spot near Point A, hike to Point A, then hike back to parking spot, then drive to parking spot near Point B... etc...)

Thank you in advanced for the responses.. Brandon
You shoud be fine. If your concerned about the type of sand your traveling thru, just air down your tires to 15-20lbs and carry a little portable air compressor, about $25 at auto stores. Carry a good jack, a 1x1 piece of half inch plywood, a shovel and a snatch rope if you need to be pulled out.

I have an '04 Ford Escape, the last year before they went to AWD and it goes anywhere. I do a lot of beach driving, and that's as sandy as you can get. I wouldn't do it in 2WD though : )
 

Jode Hillman

New Member
I have an old Cj-5 now I use for pines exploring, but previously I used a 2 wheel drive ford ranger. Airing down tires is key and also using a locking differential. (allows both rear wheels to maintain traction. )

This allowed me to cover 90% of the pines roads, the only limiting factor was deep water and ruts.............
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
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If my car had the ground clearance your vehicle has, I could go anywhere. So you should do well. Just never go slow through the sand and never ever ever stop in it. Just plow through it as safely and as fast as possible and you will see places most people never see. Good luck!

Guy
 

Hewey

Piney
Mar 10, 2005
1,040
100
1,043
Pinewald, NJ
I had a few 2 wheel drive trucks I used in the pines for years with very few problems.

With 46er and guys info and some common sense you will be fine. You just have to know your limits.

Chris
 

manumuskin

Piney
Jul 20, 2003
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Brandon
I have a suzuki xl7 2005 it does have four wheel but it can take about any sand in the barrens in two wheel except maybe that nasty patch out by sleepy creek but I find suv's handle sand in two wheel much better then pickups because the weight is more evenly distributed.I think you will do fine with sand and the advice about tire pressure is sound advice but I would watch it with mud.Irf a large puddle has a sand bottom it will be rock soilid but mud that is not frozen or dried up especially clay type mud can be lethal.A good word of advice would be wear rubber boots in winter or shoes you don't mind getting wet in summer and walk the puddles to check for depth,ruts that will bottom yopu out and mud.always err on the side of caution.Also a cell phone is nice if you need it but my Boost mobile is rotten on reception in the barrens.on the other hand my wife and friends verizon always gets out.More advice.a good shovel,axe and maybe a come along and chain isn't a bad idea either till you acquire a good idea of what your beast can do and can't do.I used to get stuck all the time as a kid(under 30) but now have a real good idea of when to just say NO,you know like drugs:) By the way Guy on the forum ghoes just about anywhere i go in my beast with a little front wheel low rider but he knows how to drive.If you have four wheel you crawl through stuff.If you have two wheel and you decide to go for it hit it as fast as you safely can and don't let up.If you get stuck try rocking it back and forth.if that don't work carry a piece of carpet with you and dig under the stuck wheel and stuff that carpet in there.works great for traction.
By the way how is the kid?Nice to hear from you again.
AL
 

ecampbell

Piney
Jan 2, 2003
2,504
556
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Get to know the trails you want to drive when it is dry so you can see what the bottoms of those puddles will be like in winter. Walking through puddles with a probing stick is a good way to check for ruts and old stumps. When you do go through a puddle, straddle the tracks of previous drivers. The ruts will be where they have driven.
If you do get stuck in sand, don't rock so much as to bury your axel, then even I won't be able to drag you out. If your stuck, you are stuck, get help, don't make it worse.

Ed
 

manumuskin

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Jul 20, 2003
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Ed is right.only try rocking once or twice.if you feel like your digging instead of working your way out,stop immediately.Better yet don't get stuck.I was never a mechanic and didn't enjoy paying other people to fix my broken vehicles so I learned to take it as easy as possible on em.when in doubt walk it out.
Al
 

Trailhead00

Explorer
Mar 9, 2005
375
1
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Haddonfield, NJ
All good, sound advice so far. I would second the locking differential. Nothing makes a bigger improvement than that. I can lock my differential electronically and it will go through places in 2wd that I used to need 4wd for. Airing down the tires works wonders on sand, just carry an air gauge and compressor. Good all terrain tires are nice to have as well. You don't need mud terrains, they will only dig a deeper hole in the sand. You can travel on 90% of the roads in 2wd. Just having 4wd is nice insurance. And oh yea, have fun.
 

gipsie

Explorer
Sep 14, 2008
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atlantic county
Get to know the trails you want to drive when it is dry so you can see what the bottoms of those puddles will be like in winter. Walking through puddles with a probing stick is a good way to check for ruts and old stumps. When you do go through a puddle, straddle the tracks of previous drivers. The ruts will be where they have driven.
If you do get stuck in sand, don't rock so much as to bury your axel, then even I won't be able to drag you out. If your stuck, you are stuck, get help, don't make it worse.

Ed
Off track a little, but not much. Over at SJG, we have an emergency contact list. You have to be on it, to have access to it. But basically it is a list of people willing to come out and help if you get stuck. You would add your name, phone number, location and equipment you have and if you get stuck, you could look down the list, see who is closest to you that could pull you out and give them a call. We have an extensive list and I keep most of thenumbers in my phone. A lot of people only keep my number handy and if I can't come out and get them, I can find someone who will. Ever think of doing something like that here? If not, I would be willing to give my number to anyone who may feel the need to have an emergency contact number. If I can't get you out, I can find someone who can.
 

mudboy dave

Explorer
Oct 15, 2008
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A few things to remember with 2wd. Front wheel drive will always pull you further than rear wheel drive will push you. As others said., airing down BEFORE becoming stuck is key. For sugar sand you want non agressive tires. Quite honestly the baalder the better. Wide is better than skinny. Skinny tires cut into the sand. Don't let it dig down!!!!!. Keep momentum up. Carry 4 fullsize floor mats. As long as you don't burry the jeep down to where the axle is hitting the ground you should still be able to move a couple of inches back and forth. get your floor mats out and place in front of rear tires. this will give you traction and keep you a float. stop before the tires come off of them and place youer other two there. just keep doing this and you will get where you need to be. Be steady on the gas. if you are at half throttle and just mash it to the floor while in sugar sand you are going to be stuck. If you have an automatic there is a fine spot within the torque curve of your motor that you can find with your throttle with a little experience. This spot wil;l allow you whern stuck to keep blurping the throttle in one direction without spinning your tires, causing the vehicle to start rocking and making your 1" of movement into one foot of movement if done appropriately. After getting the running room needed get out your floor mats and once your tire hits the mats stomp the gas and you'll get further. This is all
technique I have used with my old 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan. Now after havingv a few grand cherokees (ZJs like yours). I will say that the caravan is more capable in most siutuations than your jeep due to fron't wheel drive vs rear wheel drive. But even with a rear wheel drive, follow my little guide to a "T" and you should be golden. By the way I'd sell the 2wd Grand to someone in the street racing./drag racing crowd and buy a 4x4 one for $1500. the 4.0 is good for over 200k
 

Chrisr

Explorer
Sep 14, 2008
295
2
18
Cinnaminson, NJ
I've witnessed Dave drive his mini van, with no problems, where I drove my 4wd pick up!! One thing I learned on my outing with Dave, is when you come to a large puddle and aren't sure of the depth, and don't have anyway of checking it, drive as far to one side or the other of it and NOT IN THE MIDDLE!! Wish I hadn't brain farted on my last trip on Burnt Mill Rd. Got my
F150 grounded, my son's jeep couldn't pull me out. Luckily, my buddy was there with his P/U and pulled me out no problem. That tow strap paid for itself right then and there!! LOL!! Other than that, the advice everyone has given is very solid and if you follow it, you should be good to go.
 

mudboy dave

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Oct 15, 2008
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Chris, when you sawe me driving to sides of teh puddles there was a reason to this. To keep both sides of the vehicles up. almost all of the puddles in the pines are a set of under water ruts. if you have one tire in the center of the ruts and the other side to the side of the ruts, this will keep the lowest point of your vehicle over top of anything that could hang you up. Proper terminology..... "straddling". most of the holes that exist in Wharton I know the exact under water "map" and know where to place my tires without thinking, but if I come to a puddle that I'm not familiar with, first things first I will look for a set of stock tire prints going in and coming out the other side, this is usually a good sign that it is doable, second looking at both the entrance and exit of the puddle you can usually tell where the two ruts are. I prefer to have my passenger side between the two ruts and my drivers side as close to the edge as possible without taking out any vegatation. I usually hang my head out the window and observe depth and creep at very slow speeds. I have never once got my minivan stuck with these guidleines. It has been back to 1/4 mile during the wet season as well.
Another thing to know when going through wet/rutted areas is to know the height of your intake, water does not compreess causing connecting rods to bend oor snap. Second, dont go 30 mph through a puddle, this can force the water into the intake causing what I previously mentioned (hydrolock). Third, know the lowest point of clearance of your vehicle and keep that image embedded in your head, guiding it around obstacles/ruts. know the shape of your axle housing (usually the lowest point of clearance), The area of the housing the will come in contact with a high center of a set of ruts, is sort of a flat ledge causing a snow plow effect, in 4 wheel drive your front can usually drag it through, but sometimes it cant. but as mentioned, with the old minivan with tires bald enough to show the cords, I embarrased alot of 4x4 owners by going down trails wioth the family mobile that theyd styate as "4x4 only".
 

GermanG

Piney
Apr 2, 2005
1,026
276
1,063
Little Egg Harbor
Some great tips here, many of which I’ve used myself over the years. I’ve owned both 4x4 and 4x2 trucks and have done my share of getting stuck. New off-roaders often think 4x 4s make you invincible, but experience teaches you a 4x4 in the wrong hands only gets stuck worse. One precaution I started taking years ago was carrying a come-along and a decent length of chain behind the seat of my pickup. A tow strap is great, and faster, if there is someone around to yank you out but the come-along can do the job if you have no help. I also keep a folding shovel in the truck and try to keep a piece of 2x8 lumber in the bed. If you need to pull yourself out with the come-along and a tree is not located in the right place the board can be buried in the sand, with an angled channel dug for the chain. This is a royal pain and I only ever needed to do it once but it worked! And if you catch yourself starting to get stuck before you really sink your tires, the shovel is useful for creating ramps behind and in front of the tires to rock yourself out of trouble. This is one of the most important and easiest techniques for getting out of minor trouble on sand. Your tire tread has enough work to do trying to go over soft sand without having to climb up over a hump of it. Ease that hump and you can usually get out, even if you have to rock yourself out, shifting back and forth several times.
 

Boyd

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Jul 31, 2004
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I have been driving in the pines for almost 20 years using regular cars with front wheel drive (mostly different Volkswagen Golf's/Rabbit's). Have had a few really close calls, but I've never gotten stuck (knocking wood as I type this).

The main equipment that's needed is just a bit of common sense. :)
 

PancoastDrifter

Explorer
Dec 7, 2008
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You can avoid lots of stuff if you don't mind scratching the hell out of your paint. I don't care what my car looks like so... Always funny to drive my minivan by somebody like this (there was a perfectly navigable road adjacent to this puddle.