How do you pick the best line while 4 wheeling? Is there any tips and tricks that will help?

Hey, I would like to know how do you pick the best line to take while 4 wheeling. All I know so far is you to know what your 4wd could do, wheat your 4wd can handle, where your diff is, where you drivetrain is located at and get out there and learn from your mistakes. That what I know so far but is there any more you could tell me?


Well-Known Member
I'm with Kippie - the only way to learn is to watch others and what they do. If they are using a spotter, stand near them and see if they will explain to you why they've picked the line they have.

Being a spotter is actually a very good way to learn, because when you stand in front of a vehicle and direct them, you can see exactly what the vehicle is doing and then the ideal line becomes pretty evident.
It's not unknown on a 4x4 Earth trip for the spotters to have a group hug and discussion about what the best path up an obstacle is - listen in to those conversations and you will learn a lot.


Well-Known Member
I'll go along with the above comments and just add that all vehicles are differenct. So I would suggest getting underneath yours and having a good look around at any parts that hang a little low around the edges and any other vulnerable or essential bits, like fuel tanks, and get to know (feel) where you wheels are.


Active Member
Start on small things and work your way up.
Theres no substitute for seat time and being at one with the vehicle.
Don't be affaid to get out and have a look , if safe , at why your not going forward.
Just remember, its your vehicle, you don't have to listen to the spotter .
I prefer no spotter , walk it first if needed.
Theres no hurry .

Paddler Ed

Well-Known Member
As others have said it's about learning - I'm lucky in that I came into 4x4 after a long time (15+ years) mountain biking, white water kayak and canoeing so I had a background in line choice - it was always fun putting a 15' canoe where someone else had just put a sub 7' playboat kayak... We used to joke that the canoe was half the paddle and twice the skill.

The main thing I'd say is to think about where you need to be at the end of it, what angle and position do you need to be in, and where does that leave you for the next bit. If you can walk it through then do that, and work out what your marks are for turns etc, and where you plan to accelerate/brake/change anything else. What high spots are there, what parts are going to need a bit more careful wheel placement etc.


4x4 Earth Contributer
OK, so you have picked your line but do you know where your wheels are actually going?
Before you go 4wding, for your particular vehicle while driving down the highway with no one around sneak over to the edge of the right lane to touch one of the road markers & looking over your bonnet pick a spot on the Bonnet or Bull Bar for your right front wheel - for the left move over to the edge markers till the buzz & pick a spot for the left. (A strip of tape on these spots can be handy in the beginning)
(You can also use a few small rocks in an open area to practice drive over them)
On my Patrol the Right wheel is the right gruve on the bonnet & the left is the centre of the Bull Bar.


Well-Known Member
Thank you for the reply and discomatt I can't make it because I am in TAS...
Give Mark a ring at Tasmanian offroad adventures and get on one of his driver training days... He will help you with the confidence in the basics.

You can even tell him Smitty in the pathfinder sent you... (not sure if that will get you a bonus or flat out ignored though)


4x4 Earth Contributer
Some points.
Try to avoid holes, as another said, keep the wheels on the ground. One wheel off the ground can stop a car with no traction aids, two wheels off the ground will stop most vehicles unless it has good traction control or diff locks.

It's ok to put your tyre over a rock as long as the rock is smaller than your clearance, although the rock is a bump, it is often the overall 'flatter' level to keep the wheels on the ground than going around it.

Rocks can be quite grippy compared to dirt. A lot of people will tend to avoid rock sections and stay on the dirt of the track, but in reality the rock has more traction. However if the rock is has steps that are bigger than your wheel can handle it can stop your car instead. There are some exceptions, smooth mossy rock can be quite slippery for example.

If it's wet, 'stay in the ruts', trying to stay on the high parts of a slippery track often will see you falling into the ruts anyway. Although sometimes the ruts are too deep for your vehicle.

Many experienced people mess up picking a line too, one inch off is all it can take.


Well-Known Member
Agree @greysrigging , as has been mentioned tracks change , not all vehicles behave the same , getting a feel for your vehicle is key . Experience is earned not taught , like most things experience makes you better each trip you do you learn from .


Well-Known Member
Agree @greysrigging , as has been mentioned tracks change , not all vehicles behave the same , getting a feel for your vehicle is key . Experience is earned not taught , like most things experience makes you better each trip you do you learn from .
Its like me turning up at the Marrakai Crossing on the Adelaide River.... I really want to cross, but I don't want to flood or trash my vehicle. I know with the snorkel I can do about 1.0m depth, and its not too fast a current at that depth....but ya have to weigh up the risks. I tend to err on the side of caution .... at least until I watch someone else cross first and then I know the causeway underneath is not washed out. I don't really like to walk it because of the crocs.
Picking the line of tracks is the same....I have sliders and diff locks and under body protection but I still cringe when I slip into the ruts or hear a loud bang underneath the body somewhere. I got badly bogged out at Yalgoo in the WA Murchison 4 years ago and slid into snakewood trees that just raped and pillaged my duco, broke my radio antenna and rooted the side mirror. Every vehicle in the WA outback has a bit of Pilbara pinstriping.
Experience is the only way to pick a line and yeah I still stuff up more often than not.


4x4 Earth Contributer
When I started out 4wheeling, I had a hilux, and my mates had land cruisers, Patrols and Pajeros. I would try and watch the lines taken by them all, and often change who I would follow through obstacles. I watched where each wheel went, and how the car behaved. Because the 'lux was narrower, had leaf spring rear and torsion bar front where as the others were at least coil rear, I tried to put my wheels to the side the others were more settled.


Well-Known Member
Learn to drive without lockers and buttons. Driving up and down big ruts is all about the front end. Watch the bonnet, keep it level, steer towards the side that is dropping (straddle it, steer into the fall - natural instinct is to steer away from the deep hole) the rear will follow. The best line is often not the most driven line - there are more guys out there with big lifts and buttons to push than there are guys who know how a hill will go before they start on it. Do a course at least to learn about recovery and safety, there’s no need to get hurt learning and if you are confident in your recovery gear you will be able to play better. It’s always good to learn in the company of a mate who has a winch on his car.
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Thank you for the comments and the info. I know there some 4wd track in Tassy, I just looking for an easy one to learn in but I am probably going to go on a tag along or something.


Well-Known Member
Painful and expensive experience has always worked for me.....
Yes that was me. Budget $800 per weekend for panel or under body damage on each trip. After 20 - 30 hard , solid trips and 2 - 3 vehicles you will get he hang of it. Apart from that it is relatively painless.:(

Lesson 1 - Woah, what did that rock hit underneath, it sounded bloody solid.
Lesson 2 - Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech down the side of the vehicle. - I think it missed one panel... There is $400 of savings right there.
Lesson 3 - Watch out for that tree George
Lesson 4 - sideways skid into the mound on the side of the track. Oh well that panel had a scratch anyway.
Lesson 5 - That scratch will buff out
Lesson 6 - CRUUNCH
Lesson 7 - In retrospect when you get home, driving in that deep mud maybe wasnt such a good idea
Lesson 8 - Driving on top of the mounds at ruts aint such a good idea when you slide off the mounds sideways, into the deep rut.
Lesson 9 - Who would have though that puddle could be sooo bloody deep. Just bad luck I suppose..
Lesson 10 - That bang sounded a lot like a CV joint to me.
Lesson 11 - How the hell could a stick wedge it's self up in there and cause that hole in the radiator.
Lesson 12 - Shyte, I locked the keys in the car. I guess a new rear side window will only cost $100 at the wrecker.
Lesson 13 - The winch worked fine, last time I used it 5 years ago.
Lesson 14 - Never trust any hand brake made by the Toyota corporation.
Lesson 15 - The time taken to let 15 PSI out of your tyres is not a waste of good driving time
Lesson 16 - Gum boots may be uncomfortable but not as much as wet muddy runners.
Lesson 17 - God invented Jumper leads for a reason.

Ahh the joys.
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