Driving in mud is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable activities one can undertake in a 4WD. In fact, it's so much fun that many of us prefer to walk straight through the mud rather than take the perfectly dry way around it.
Unfortunately, driving through mud is one of the worst things you can do to your 4WD, so you should think twice before doing it.
The Truth About Mud
All of the following information will help you understand how mud can damage a vehicle. Because mud contains silt and microscopic rocks, it acts like sandpaper. Small rocks have the ability to stone chip your car or the vehicle in front of you, which is especially true for 4WDs with wider tires.
The most surprising truth about mud is that it can be saltier than the ocean floor, and most mud contains some type of salt. As if that weren't enough, some types of mud contain acid sulfate, making muck a vehicle rust bath.
Bog holes are some of the best off-road challenges if they are unavoidable. It will be a bad day if you go through a bog hole merely to go through it and lose your truck. So only go through the ones you absolutely need to in order to get to that fantastic camping location or vista!
As previously stated, bog holes can quickly claim a vehicle, hydro lock your engine (water entrance into the combustion chamber), and if you get stranded in one and the truck fills with water, you may be dealing with electrical troubles for the rest of your life.
To check the depth, always walk a portion of water or use a stick. If you must go through it, hook up a snatch strap or spool up your winch and wrap it around your bull bar or spare rear tire to be prepared for a recovery. You don't want to be in deep water for very long!
All of those salts can sneak into electrical connections and cause corrosion of the copper inside. If you've been playing in the mud, clean the engine bay well and spray all the vulnerable electrical connections with contact cleaner to keep them from corroding!
Alternators despise water, but mud is their worst nightmare! Expect alternator problems if you frequently drive in water or mud, as the brushes inside them will not appreciate the fun you're having.
The alternator isn't the only component that despises mud. Everything with bearings, from pulleys to wheels, can become contaminated with silt, causing premature wear.
Brakes are an item that needs to be replaced periodically; however, if you play in mud, you will need to replace them much more frequently. The muck will grind on your pads and disks, wearing them down over time.
There is no way to avoid this while driving through mud, but you may reduce the effects by washing your vehicle as soon as you get out of it.
Don't panic if you just came out of the mud and your steering wheel is shaking like crazy; it's the mud that's stuck on your wheels. Wash your wheels completely on the inside and outside to remedy the problem.
As you can see, mud can cause a variety of problems. When you really have to go through it, the disadvantages are offset by the excitement of completing the challenge right away. However, if you can drive past it, it may be preferable because it will extend the life of your vehicle.