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Isuzu Off Roading/Trail Reports

sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
edited March 2014 in Isuzu
If you aren't afraid of a few scratches, the Pine Barrens is a great place to 4WD on the east coast. Most of the terrain is sand, but there are a lot of low branches and mud holes. The mud holes and water crossings can be deep.

I took the family for a day trip and we had a great time. The only negative, besides christening the truck with front to rear scratches were the droves of motorcycles that would come out of nowhere. I was travelling 10-20 mph and they would come around the bend about 30-40 mph. Not terrible but it broke up the quiet serene trip in the forest.
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Comments

  • Anyone from the NW interested in a dunes playday in late Jan? If so, e-mail me.
  • We just had about more than 10 inches of snow and was able to use the 4WD and low range of my '99 Passport. A lot of cars were stranded, blocking the roads, so I had to back up all the way to an intersection to use another path. The 4WD was really great. Since I drove only on the side streets, I liked the low range better. It had good control and better engine braking, especially if I shift the gears from D to 3 to 2 to L one at a time. I could slow down without using the bakes. I was hunting for unplowed roads and tried to drive through the most difficult surface. I managed to get stuck when I tried to pass another car that blocked the road and I climbed to a snow pile (higher than the SUV's ground clearance). But I still managed to quickly get past thru it by backing
    up once and moving forward again. Other than that, the SUV was unstoppable.

    Right now, I am enjoying the moment.

    Happy new year to all of you!!!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    We got 15" roughly here in NYC, and snow piles from plows on narrow streets were much higher. The trooper with TOD rocked totally! I pushed my way through plowed piles as high as about 3', during which I spun the wheels a bit, but the TOD is great in that, if it senses all 4 are slipping, it shifts the power back to the rears and then to the front hunting for traction. At first I would let off the gas totally, but after a few parrallel parking jobs, I realized if I just eased off a slight bit, it woul allow the TOD to do it's thing and bam right out of the snow. Dig dig dig wheels grip, and off I go.

    The downside i did find is that reverse sux in low traction conditions with any 4x4. I think the reverse gear ratio is much higher or lower (whichever one makes you spin em easier) which means that whenever you are parking like in your driveway and want to make sure you can get out, the best bet is to back in with the front facing the direction you want to go in afterward.

    Happy Snow!
    and Happy New Year!

    -mike
  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    We got about 10" of powder in PA today. I got on a steep unplowed slope and tested 4-low and TOD. In 4-Low the truck would slide sideways and spin alot. In TOD it took right off and went up with no problems. I have noticed that I can get the back end loose if I accelerated too quickly.

    Overall the truck performed as usual. It made deep snow seem very easy. It would be more fun to hit some snow on off-road trails?

    I hit a few soft snow piles that were bumper high. Packed snow in the front and A-arms of the suspension. I am going to get up early tomorrow and see if I have a problem with TOD. I am going to let it warm up first.
  • In quest for unplowed open space, I went to the Orchard Beach (East of Bronx, New York) and found that the wide open parking lot was not plowed and there were already a lot of tracks from other SUV's who came in before me. Th snow was between one to two feet. There were lots of SUV's playing around including a Subaru Impresa (ouch, that low gorund clearance). The Passport tackled the snow with no problem. The limiting factor is also the ground clearance. When I tried to climb a snow pile to transfer from unplowed area to the plowed area, the whole bottom of the SUV was touching the snow and I couldn't move (kind of embarassing), Luckily, I can still move it a little and tried to rock it back and forth until I got free. Despite the fact that the underbody spare tire is close to the ground, it did not touched the snow. I got out once to check the snow while running accross an untouched surface and found out that the snow was about 14 inches deep and the tires only sank to about 7 inches and I can still dig another 7 inches on the tire track. I went over and over until I had enough. A lot of SUV owners also went there. I also saw a FWD car attemped to enter the unplowed area but backed off before the rear wheels can touch the deep snow.
  • deimosdeimos Posts: 57
    Hello,

    I've already replied to "Found a winter wonderland for beginners" by drmperalta on the SUV owners forum(please see bellow), but now I notice that Paisan, in his "Ditto on the snow", had a similar bad experience, like mine when backing off in 4X4 even LOW!

    In Reply to:Found a winter wonderland for beginners by drmperalta

    Hello,

    I'm happy that you had so much fun :)

    I hope that you won't mind if I ask a few questions(as a newbie), since last night, in similar snow, in a different and crowded city(Montreal rather then our Ottawa) my experience wasn't so great as yours?

    We have a '99 V6 5 speed Rodeo:

    So we were on this narrow street when we pass our host's place and (at the guy's suggestion) I try to park on the side of the street in one or two feet of snow...Definitely more then one on the left side of the truck, almost two I'd say...

    I park almost completely, but I get stuck a little, even after switching in 4W Low? After straightening up the tires I could back off, but in the process I've discovered two other disconcerting factors:

    a) Rather then backing off in straight line (diagonally towards the middle of the street, that was clean), the truck would kind of steer left?? And keep me in the snow and backing towards another parked car...

    I guess my stock tires aren't much good in snow :)

    b) Something started to smell! Later I've recalled an article from the last year newspapers something like "many SUV owners burned...their engines on the Chicago streets when getting stuck in the snow, because they don't know how to handle them...An SUV won't take you out of everywhere..."

    So the question is what is the danger here? I'm afraid that someone like me might actually burn something at the engine block(is it called block engine's insulation or garnish?)?

    Can anyone provide more input please?

    PS

    I did get out of the snow moving forward eventually, but I didn't want to push the truck too hard, since that smell was smelling trouble!

    I guess it just wasn't my day after all(see previous post about getting the tire cover punctured from a minor collision from behind earlier in the same city), but it could have been much worse :)

    Basically I'm not so worried about getting a little bit "embarrassed" like you said, but about the danger of pushing the truck to hard in a situation like that...

    Any advice would be more then welcomed!

    Thanks again,
  • deimosdeimos Posts: 57
    Hello again,

    About:

    "We got about 10" of powder in PA today. I got on a steep unplowed slope and tested 4-low and TOD. In 4-Low the truck would slide sideways and spin alot. In TOD it took right off and went up with no problems. "

    BTW: exactly what happened to me in 4-low backing off: slipping sideways and spin a lot! Kind of scarry :) Plus some smell...
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The smell was probably your clutch burning from not being fully engaged.

    TOD is the full-time variable tourque system on the Troopers. It can be used in wet or dry conditions, and varies torque split between the front and rear axles.

    The problem I had was in snow, it appeared to permeate the TOD unit, and cause a short. I cannot re-create the problem, even with driving a whole weekend in deep snow. I'm gonna let it go as a hiccup for now.

    -mike
  • deimosdeimos Posts: 57
    Thanks!

    So the smell doesn't come from something more serious like the gasket of the engine block(I think)?

    Also, you guys seem to indicate that TOD would do a better job in the snow then 4WD low?

    Not knowing better, I thought 4WD low is the best there is...It was one more reason not to go for a "permanent all wheel drive" ....:)

    I wasn't even aware that one can have either TOD or 4WD low in an Isuzu Trooper...

    I'll keep that in mind and sorry to hear about your hiccup with TOD...
    As a matter of fact anything that is fully automatic kind of worried us, in terms of reliability...

    But we'll learn as we go or from your experiences :)
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    TOD=torque on demand. Not available in a five speed and the trooper with the manual tranny does not have it. Interesting that your 4WD Hi did better than 4WD Lo in the snow.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    On the Trooper you can also have it set to 2wd only in addition to TOD and 4wd Lo, kinda the best of the AWD and Part Time 4wd systems.

    -mike
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    Sorry to duplicate this message, but if someone out there only looks at offroading, they will not see this message under maintenance and repair.

    I saw a discussion on water in the tranny somewhere in the owners club, but I can't recall where. Does water get into the tranny through the so-called vents? Are these on top of the transmission casing--does anybody know--are there vent line extensions on the trooper? I would assume that most vehicles could go through 6 inches of water, and I'd hope the trooper could go through more without having to replace the tranny fluid. They do show an advertisement with it sitting in a shallow river bed. I've heard about people extending their trany vent lines for offroading through deep water etc. --but I assume this would be water that would come through the doors. I also have heard of people ripping out the rugs and putting in rubber for such offroading. Any input would be great.
  • deimosdeimos Posts: 57
    Hi,

    Sorry for the confusing generated by my long posts :)

    No, my 4WD Hi didn't do better then 4WD Lo in deep snow: I've used 4WD Lo to get out, but , like someone else said here I had the same problem with it:

    "In 4-Low the truck would slide sideways and spin alot." especially when backing up...
    Eventually I was able to exit by moving forward after backing up a little, since backing up would slide left and back towards another parked car :)

    Not to mention that something starting to smell and I was afraid that I might burn something like the engine block gasket by overheating the engine(people said that it might have been my clutch rather then the engine)...

    I'm glad that at least you the Trooper owners have TOD to help you in snow and such :)

    I'll probably consider one for my next truck(even if we intend to keep our '99 V6 five speed Rodeo for as long as possible)...
  • sdc2sdc2 Posts: 780
    I think the sliding sideways while backing thing is due to not-so-good tires. If the tires can bite, you won't slide sideways, even when the snow gets really greasy. I have parallel parked in the snow many times without trouble, but I have always had good AT tires on my 4X4.

    I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong with your vehicle, you just need better tires.
  • deimosdeimos Posts: 57
    Thanks!

    That was my guess as well...:)

    What are your "good AT tires on your 4X4. "? Are they all seasons, or winter only tires?

    If I'll have the choice I'd get all seasons for my Rodeo(to save money), if they'll do a better job then my factory ones...
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    If they are the Dueller 684s, are pretty decent. The reverse problem is in reverse the gear ratio is higher than foward so it cuts the wheels out much easier than in the foward gears.

    I've heard the Pirelli Scorpions are good tires too.

    -mike
  • deimosdeimos Posts: 57
    Thanks!

    That was my guess as well...:)

    What are your "good AT tires on your 4X4. "? Are they all seasons, or winter only tires?

    If I'll have the choice I'd get all seasons for my Rodeo(to save money), if they'll do a better job then my factory ones...
  • sdc2sdc2 Posts: 780
    So far I still have the OEM 684s, but I plan on getting Pirelli Scorpions when I get bigger tires. They outperformed a bunch of more expensive tires in a test that has been passed around, and are periodically on sale at Sears.

    I would look for a tire with lots of siping and blocking for snow use, although such a tire can be noisy in some cases.

    On one of my previous vehicles, an 88 Pathfinder, I had worn 75% of the original tread off the tires, but though I could make it through the winter, as they were not worn down to the wear bars yet. Then I had a minor fenderbender where I slid into a guy during a snowfall. The accident made me decide to spring for the new tires, and what a difference! I was able to drive in 2WD where with the old tires 4WD was necessary, and braking in the snow was also vastly improved. I am convinced that if I had gotten new tires earlier, I would not have slid into that guy.

    I guess my point is that any decent AT tire with good tread on it will be superior to worn tires, regardless of brand.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Yep, I never skimp on tires or brakes. They are what keeps you in contact with the road and stops you from hitting someone else!

    -mike
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    Does anyone use a continuous loop tow strap?
  • deimosdeimos Posts: 57
    Thanks, I'll look into the Pirelli Scorpions(or similar) for my '99 Rodeo...

    Question is: should I do it now?
    I only have 23.000 km on the stock ones...

    The tread sims to be in good shape(but I'm not sure what its original size was), but on the other hand I'm not happy when it slips in deep snow or if it affects breaking distance as well...

    I would definitely like to be cautious(like sdc2 said) but isn't 23.000 km kind of early to replace them?
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Posts: 2,554
    I've got 39,300 miles on my 98 Trooper and it looks like the original tires will last well past 50k miles. I'm not a real aggressive driver, and I think driving style makes a HUGE difference in tire treadlife. I plan to consider the Dueler 684 when it's time to replace the current 4 tires.
  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    Me too, I like the Dueler 684's so far. They have done well on wet and dry pavement, and even during some light off-roading. I might like to put a wider tire on next time, but so far the model/brand works for me.

    They should last past 50,000 miles, I think they have a 60,000 mile warranty.
  • I have the Duellers too and these are very good all around tires.I don't know if you tried this but most off roaders reduces their tire pressures (-2 to -4 PSI or even more!) to increase traction on mud, snow, sand, or when rock climbing.

    Iv'e tried this on our rear wheel drive car and it helped a lot on the mud (plus of course, the cheater weight at the back to keep the rear firmly planted)
  • danmardanmar Posts: 7
    Has anybody replaced their trooper stock tire w/ 265/75/16 ? I would appreciate any comment. I have 45k miles now on my 98 trooper and would need a new set of tires in 2-3 months.
    Still happy and satisfied w/ this truck!
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Posts: 2,554
    Check out the Isuzu Trooper - Part V topic in the SUVs area. Also, there has been a lot of discussion on larger tire sizes over on the Isuzu Trooper Owners Guild (www.itog.com) in the General Isuzu Discussion area. Do a quick search there and you'll probably have lots of reading ahead of you.
  • sdc2sdc2 Posts: 780
    I have used my loop-type tow strap a number of times...why do you ask?
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    With the continuous loop strap, a loop connects the two vehicles, and both sides of the loop should be under constant tension. Thus, if you cut the strap (which you wouldn't want to do), it would be twice as long. Just wondering if this is more problematic then simply fixed loops on the two ends of the straps.
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    Paisan mentioned once about towing people that were stuck in the snow. From reading the article I posted above, I think I would be worried about that, unless its someone I know, and who knows what he/she should be doing.

    In the article above, the guy in back let slack develop in the strap, then ran over the strap thereby wrapping it around the front wheel axle. This broke the brake line to the brake caliber and no brakes. He passed the towing vehicle, then went sideways and T-boned the towing vehicle, flipping it on its side and ending up on top of it.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I only tow people who are stuck in snow or mud. Low speed, generally not high speed or extended periods of time. (so the running over of the strap isn't an issue) i've towed out a number of people. I don't use the ball of the hitch though, I use the metal pin so that there is no chance of having projectiles that hooks would be if the ropes snap.

    -mike
  • sdc2sdc2 Posts: 780
    Ah, I see what you mean by "continuous loop". My strap has the seperate loops at each end.

    I did tow a car about 15 miles once with it, when my friends car conked out on a remote dirt road in northern Minnesota. It was nerve-wracking - I kept thinking what would happen if I had to hit the brakes. It wasn't any funner for him, the road was muddy and his windshield kept getting covered, which made HIM nervous. Made it OK, though, I would brake very very gradually when we had to stop, which was fortunately only once or twice before reaching civilization.

    On another note, I was just talking to a coworker who used to have a Jeep. He told me about an x-ray that was shown around at his 4x4 club. It showed the image of a hitch ball imbedded INSIDE a guy's skull. Needless to say, the guy was killed instantly in the tow strap incident.

    That's why you NEVER hook a strap to something that can come off, and never use straps with hooks on them.
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    I had a couple of comments about snow driving both on road and off. 4WD TOD works well but is much more like rear wheel drive in the snow than 4WD--i.e. you get the rear wheel sideways spin if you hit it too hard. Starting out the winter mode helps alot. You don't seem to get the jerking caused by too much torque in the rear as the front wheels grab. Instead in winter mode, the front wheels grab much more smoothly. I liked the feel of the 4WD Lo under 25 mph, although the engine was rev-ed quite abit at 20-25 mph. If you hit the gas hard in 4WD Lo the tires spin, but I didn't feel any sideways motion from the rear. Also, I liked the feel of a 4 wheels engaged in 4WD Lo on the slippery surface. Much more gear noise in 4WD Lo--I guess this is normal due to the 2-fold lower gear ratio. On slopes in deep snow, keep your forward motion when the side is facing downhill to avoid sliding sideways-a potentially bad situation. I think the weight of the vehicle is a big factor if sideways on such slopes. For example, I recall where tractor-trailers slid right off a banked highway curve in the snow because they were going very slow and the weight caused them to slide sideways.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I found the opposite of GPM. I found 4wd Lo to be much worse than TOD. I did some extensive driving off and on-road today in deep and semi-deep snow. The trooper did great. Other than stopping on 3.5' snow banks caused by plows, instead of keeping going through them, the Trooper was flawless. Made it up a 200' steep hill to a buddy's house which had 1.5' of snow cover on it. I had to use "2" + TOD. On Road, the TOD worked great to keep me going forward. It does handle like a RWD if you aren't on the gas at all. If you get on the gas, the front grip and go. Between the TOD and the ABS, it was hard to get it to bring the back around. I do want to get some AT Tires, cause the 684s were decent, but not quite knobby enough for the snow. The rear tire is very helpful to keep crap off the rear window, and I wish we had the headlight wipers that our European and Australian sister cars have. Also on the LS I had extensive snow buildup on the rims due to the pattern of the mesh. Whenever off-roading or doing deep snow driving, bring a shovel, a tow strap, and a partner vehicle. Cause it's a pain to get yourself un-stuck!

    The Trooper is good stuff in the snow :) and I really like the TOD. I was flying down some roads tonight @ 60mph, the Hella 4000s are great for night driving, makes it like daytime!

    I'm lovin the snow up here in upstate NY!

    -mike
  • sdc2sdc2 Posts: 780
    I have noticed you can break the rear end loose initially in TOD, but only briefly because the fronts kick in quickly. Judicious use of the throttle can easily avoid this, anyway.

    TOD is a little different than an older-tech part-time 4WD system, in that the power is apportioned more to the rear until something slips. But, I have driven both systems, and it is nice to have a system where you don't have to worry about whether or not you are on dry pavement or slippery surface - you can just set it and forget it!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Yeah, as with anything, prudent driving during severe conditions and paying attention are the key to safe travel. Clear windshields also aid in safe winter driving. I notice that if I don't clean it often, that it can be distracting, I know of a guy who had that as a contributing factor in a spin-off recently of his subaru. The TOD is nice when you are stuck cause it keeps shifting the power back and forth which is what I'd do manually with either the shifter or the throttle.

    -mike
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    I agree the TOD works great but you need to start getting slip in the rear and depending, in the snow that slip can cause the rear to fishtail. TOD under less slippery conditions (rain, sand, grass, leaves) works great. I think its the power to the rear and using winter drive seems to proportion power more quickly to the front without the fishtailing effect. I was wondering why they had the winter drive button (I thought it would not be useful) but it actually is. I've been driving front wheel drives now for a few years and got used to powering the heck out of them through the snow--they slip and spin but you basically can keep a straight line (or can power with alot of spinning through a turn) with little fishtailing. Part of it is likely getting used to the trooper in the snow. I noticed in 4WD Lo there was no fishtailing effect at all. Also, this was all low speed driving (<40 mph).
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Interesting, maybe it's cause I'm used to the RWD in the snow, but I noticed that I could get more sideways skidding with 4wd lo rather than TOD. Of course if I floor it, the back end will come around no matter what. Also I noticed that the Winter mode *Didn't* work that well with TOD, cause there was little slippage in the rear due to the fact that it's starting in 3rd gear, no or little tourque is transferred to the front wheels. I found winter mode worked better in 4wd Lo or in 2wd than in TOD.

    I did manage to get some nice 4wd drifts in TOD while up here, having the trooper moving sideways and forward @ 40-50mph in the snow is pretty cool! I only wish I had pics of it. :)

    -mike
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    This may relate to the type of snow, how cold, and how deep the snow is. Winter drive seemed to distribute more torque to the front when hitting the gas hard without the jerking motion, as one might expect for a higher gear. This was on road and not deep snow ~2 in. TOD does a great job distributing between the wheels in deep snow and over snow piles etc. even at low speed and from a stop. I pulled in and out of some of that today and would have been stuck for sure in any other 2WD vehicle.
  • sdc2sdc2 Posts: 780
    You shouldn't get any fishtailing in 4lo, because it's a straight 50/50 front/rear split, just like a regular 4WD system. Fishtailing is always caused by more power to the rear than front.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Does anyone know if the rear wheels should both be turning with an LSD or are there situations where one will turn and the other won't? I'm getting ready to bring my truck into the dealer for other stuff on monday, and want to have the LSD checked out cause over the weekend it seemed to not work in one situation. Here is the situation... Drove into a snow bank, and had the front of my Trooper basically burried up to the hood in snow. When I tried to back out, the front axle would switche between powering the left and right sides (which is normal), but the rear left didn't turn, yet the rear right was spinning. I figured I should have had both rears spinning, and the front alternating between the 2 wheels. Any ideas?

    -mike
  • deimosdeimos Posts: 57
    OK, this is not about off road, but about snow on road at low speeds :)

    Just wanted to check some basic facts, if you don't mid:

    Is it true that being in 4WD Hi would actually help when using the "engine brake"( I mean downshifting to a lower gear, rather then pushing the brakes)?

    I mean when one tries to stop at a slippery spot, while driving at low speeds...I always try to downshift("engine brake"?) rather then push the brakes first...

    My feeling is that being in 4WD Hi actually helps because all 4 tires will probably provide some resistance, right?

    I never had the truck slipping(is fishtailing a better word to sue here?) when doing that, while the wife had in the same spot(but she's scrappy she never uses 4WD Hi much, prefers to stay in 2WD)

    Could you please enlighten some SUV newbies, more?

    Thanks
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    As far as I'm aware you should not get the single wheel spin in the back. This is the normal problem with rear wheel drives without the LSD or positive traction as its called, and I've seen it happen where even at idle the wheel just sits there and spins with the foot off the brake. I would guess that as the one wheels spins the other should also grab hold on the RW LSD.
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    I think that being in lower gear would help in certain situations and one would get more benefit from 4WD. I noticed the benefit offroad using 4WD TOD down a hill with small round rocks. When the surface is too slippery, the idle speed of the engine actually drives the wheels, and if you hit the brakes it causes more skidding.
  • sdc2sdc2 Posts: 780
    Sometimes it helps to get the LSD to "kick in" if you use a little brake at the same time you accelerate. You can use foot brake or hand (emergency) brake for this. My understanding is that it helps "load" the limited slip so it engages - not sure exactly how that works, but it's worth a try...
  • deimosdeimos Posts: 57
    Heard that also, maybe will give at try, when in dire need...:)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Which reminds me, do the Trooper E-brakes lock all 4 wheels or just the rear? Mine seemed to lock all 4 cause I was trying to skid out in a parking lot by doing the old yank the e-brake routine, to no avail.

    -mike
  • sdc2sdc2 Posts: 780
    Traditionally it just locks the rear, but I don't know if that is universal...I'll have to try it myself :-)
  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    I have been trying to find an online retailer where I can find a come-along? I was hoping to find a couple brands to look at. Does anyone know of any web sites that carry them? If not I guess I going to take a look at home depot.
  • sdc2sdc2 Posts: 780
    Maybe Northern Hydraulics?
This discussion has been closed.