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Off-Road Driving for Beginners and Advanced Drivers

  • General Tire provides tips for safe off-road trips
  • Equip yourself with the necessary training and your vehicle with essential 4x4 equipment to safely make the most of every outing
  • Extensive range of General Grabber tyres suited to every adventure – from on-road Grabber GT Plus to extreme off-road Grabber X3

GQEBERHA, South Africa, 26 May 2023 – The off-road vehicle segment is extremely popular in South Africa, enabling those with an adventurous spirit to explore the rich natural diversity, and the abundant leisure and wildlife destinations on offer across the country. For those willing to venture a bit further, there’s a dazzling array of 4x4 destinations just across the border too, from exploring the remote snow-capped highlands of Lesotho to traversing the vast desert landscapes of Namibia.

Whether you need a tough 4x4 bakkie (pickup) or spacious SUV, there’s an off-road vehicle to suit every need. These vehicles are characterized by their comparatively high ground clearance, more rugged suspension and either selectable part-time or permanent four-wheel drive systems that will help keep you moving when heading off the beaten track.

However, exchanging smooth tarmac for gravel, soft sand, mud and rocks comes with its risks, and off-road beginners, in particular, should always observe a few basic rules. After all, unlike on public roads, there is no breakdown service in the forest or desert to get damaged vehicles running again, and you could find yourself broken down or stuck with no cellphone reception to call for help.

“Automotive manufacturers know that hardly any of their vehicles ever drive off the road, and their emphasis is primarily on optimising fuel efficiency, comfort and safety,” explains Ryan Visagie, Product Communications Manager at Continental Tyre SA. “As a result, even supremely capable SUVs and bakkies are increasingly being fitted with on-road tyres at the factory.

“The problem is that these tyres don’t have the reinforced construction of 4x4 tyres that significantly reduces the risk of damage when driving off-road,” Visagie says. “The tread design is also developed for low noise and reduced rolling resistance to minimise running costs, whereas 4x4 tyres have a more rugged tread pattern that interlocks with loose surfaces which gives you the all-important traction when driving off-road.”

Accordingly, if you are planning off-road driving, make sure the tyres fitted to your vehicle are up to the challenge. As a brand of Continental, General Tire is a proven and trusted 4x4 tyre specialist, with a comprehensive range of tyres that offer balanced performance to suit the type of off-road driving you are planning to do.


Most of its Grabber product range is produced locally at the Continental Tyre South Africa plant in Gqeberha – including the award-winning Grabber AT3 all-terrain tyre, the more rugged Grabber ATX, the extreme terrain Grabber X3, and the Grabber GT Plus for SUVs.

“Our Grabber AT3 meets the everyday requirements of modern SUVs, bakkies and off-road vehicles, with the advantage of an excellent drive and braking performance even on loose surfaces,” Visagie adds. The AT3 is offered in two versions – a standard construction tyre that offers the ideal balance between on-road performance and off-road capability, along with the more robust light truck (LT) construction with a reinforced sidewall for more demanding applications.

“We introduced our Grabber ATX range last year which matches the excellent tread pattern of the AT3 with an even tougher and more durable construction that allows you to tackle even more challenging terrain with confidence,” Visagie says.

For the most adventurous off-roaders, the Grabber X3 is General Tire’s extreme terrain 4x4 tyre which is specially designed to conquer the toughest conditions, including mud and rocks. “A heavy-duty 4x4 tyre such as the Grabber X3 incorporates a reinforced construction that protects against damage to the sidewall from contact with obstacles on the track. It also features an aggressive, open tread pattern with large tread blocks that ensure optimal grip on loose surfaces, combined with an efficient self-cleaning action in muddy conditions,” Visagie explains.

Tyre pressures

To ensure optimum traction off the road, the tyre pressures need to be adjusted according to the applicable situation. “The information provided by vehicle manufacturers in the operating manuals assume you are driving on the road,” Visagie says. “When driving off-road, whether it’s a gravel road, rocky mountain trail, muddy river bank or soft sand, you need to adjust the tyre pressures to suit the conditions, as lowering the pressure increases the footprint and contact patch of the tyre on the surface, giving you better traction and control.

“We produced an entire series of in-depth videos explaining 4x4 tyres and the importance of tyre pressures when driving off-road, as there’s a general lack of awareness regarding the crucial role that tyre pressures play,” Visagie says. The videos are available on the General Tire South Africa YouTube channel.

General Tire: know-how beyond tyres

Due to its long history in the off-road industry, General Tire’s expertise goes well beyond the area of tyres. “If your vehicle is stuck in mud or sand, it’s important to keep calm. Some simple tricks usually help you continue the journey,” advises Visagie. “Everything that helps the tyres build up traction is useful.”

The first step is to reduce the tyre pressures if possible to increase the footprint and improve traction. Remove the mud or sand in front of or behind the wheels with a shovel to make it easier to gain momentum. A simple but effective technique of interlocking the sidewalls of the tyres using careful lateral steering movements may get you out. If that doesn’t work, lifting the wheels off the ground and placing rocks underneath may help. You can even put the car’s floor mats under your wheels and, in a pinch, you can even use sticks.

However, up-front planning is essential to reduce the chance of landing in the worst-case scenario in the first place. It’s important to never venture off-road alone – always have at least two or three vehicles travelling together in case one gets stuck or encounters a mechanical issue.

Some basic 4x4 recovery gear should be in your vehicle at all times when heading off on a trail. Essential items such as recovery straps (tow rope and snatch strap), bow shackles or soft shackles to secure the strap to anchor points on the vehicle, a tyre pump and a tyre deflator are recommended for the most basic recovery kit.

More serious off-roaders will typically equip their vehicle with sand tracks, a winch and high-lift jack or a lifting bag that raises the vehicle easily to facilitate changing a wheel or aiding in digging a vehicle out of a sticky situation. If people are working under the vehicle, a spare wheel placed on the ground under the car is an important safety measure, should the lifting mechanism slip or fail. Gloves, a tree protector for the winch, a shovel and an axe are also must-have items for 4x4 enthusiasts.

“Having the right equipment for your adventures is one thing, but knowing how to use them properly is critical,” Visagie says. “Winches, high-lift jacks and snatch ropes are valuable 4x4 tools, but they can be extremely dangerous if used incorrectly.” A prime example is using the vehicle’s tow hitch as a recovery point, as this far exceeds the load rating of the tow ball and could effectively turn it into a deadly projectile. Only designated chassis-mounted recovery points should be used, while 4x4 vehicles fitted with a detachable heavy-duty towbar can use a recovery hitch.

“The value of 4x4 training cannot be underestimated,” Visagie says. “Whether it’s an introductory course to teach you how your vehicle operates and the basics of 4x4 driving, to more advanced courses that guide you through each step of the vehicle recovery process, this is one of the best investments you will make. The skills learned will make your off-road adventures safer and a lot more enjoyable.”

General Tire has published even more tips and tricks for a trip into nature here.


Press contact

South Africa:

Jiminy Bosman
PR and Communications Manager

BU Replacement EMEA

Continental Tyre SA (Pty) Ltd
Phone: +27 41 406 5640

Mobile: +27 83 656 9172


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