Mud and Water Crossings

Mud and Water can be a sticky and deep discussion (Pun Intended)

In the province of Ontario the OF4WD thrives to work with all public land use organizations to ensure our lands are protected for our future  society to enjoy.

One of these organizations is Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources who are solely responsible for this provinces public lands.   The MNR can enforce actions if trails are becoming damaged or if trail users are endangering species at risk.  Therefore the OF4WD asks that you be very careful to follow the guidelines below and through out this education section especially when dealing with muddy areas and water crossings.


When entering a mud hole or water hole always proceed with caution.

  • Use a low gear to traverse muddy sections of trail.
  • Use just enough throttle to maintain forward momentum, too much throttle digs you deeper and decreases traction.  This causes damage to the trail tread
  • Turn your wheels rapidly from side-to-side if you feel yourself losing traction. This allows the side lugs of your tire to grab the edges of ruts and increase traction.
  • Pulsate the throttle to increase wheel spin momentary to clear the lugs of the tire, but not enough to cause mud to fly a long ways
  • When traversing ruts try to avoid falling into the ruts, attempt to straddle them. However, beware of falling into deep ruts which could result in a rollover.
  • If the mud hole is impassable either winch through it or turn around and go back the way you came.  Report the situation through the trail reporting system so a repair can be made to the trail to protect users and the environment

Water Crossings

Water crossings can be a dangerous process.  Whether it be a swift current, depth of the water, or unforeseen obstacles below the surface extreme caution must be taken

  • Avoid water crossings if at all possible.
  • When crossing water, maintain forward progress creating a “bow wake” in front of your vehicle. This creates an air pocket in the engine bay.  You can do this by entering the water with a little bit of momentum pushing the water with your bumper, reduce throttle and allow the wave to flow ahead of you, increase throttle once again and follow the wave about 1 meter behind it until you exit the crossing
  • Motion should be steady and continuous.
  • Water that is hub depth is safe, avoid water which is more than bumper depth.
  • If you find yourself in unexpectedly deep water and your vehicle stalls DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RESTART.   Seek assistance from your wheeling partners or trail leader.
  • If you become stuck, do not use the clutch if the transmission is partially under water.  Mud and debris will be sucked in between the clutch pressure plate and flywheel causing the vehicle to be inoperable.  A major repair will be required if you accidentally suck mud and water into the clutch area
  • Brakes will not function to their full capacity after crossing deep water, temporarily depress them after exiting the water to restore performance.
A bow wave ahead of the vehicle

A bow wave ahead of the vehicle

a bow wave ahead of the vehicle

a bow wave ahead of the vehicle



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