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Taking your ride off-road is a fun and exciting activity that outdoor enthusiasts participate in. There is an unmatched sense of freedom in leaving the beaten path to adventure into nature and conquer the elements. Whenever you hear “Off-Road,” your mind immediately pictures big, lifted trucks with oversized tires and aftermarket parts.

Most vehicles taken to the trails are usually equipped with four-wheel-drive, lift kits, winches, and all the tools to fully prepare for the rough terrain. Some extra items included are extra food and water, tire repair kits, and first aid kits in case the big day out takes a turn for the worse.

What if we don’t have all of those things? What if you’re on a budget and need the fancy technical setup and expensive gear? Could you take your standard two-wheel drive on an off-road excursion? 

Going off-road in a 2WD is completely fine and actually normal. If you plan and take reasonable measures, you can go almost anywhere on the trails with the rest of the pack. Four-wheel drive is a luxury, and it does make the trip much easier as you know you have a better chance of not getting stuck. Yet, it is not always a necessity, and you can still have all the fun with half of the traction.

Advice For Going Off-Road

If you want to take your 2WD out for a run, there are a few things to keep in mind. You want to keep the terrain mild. The odds of getting stuck are inevitably higher, so you want to stick to areas that will be reasonably easy to get in and out of. Also, invest in a winch.

A good working winch (like this one) (Paid Link) can mean the difference between waiting for someone else to tow you to solid ground and being able to do it yourself. Going off-roading alone is not advised, but if you choose to, this could save you from being stranded for hours before help arrives.

It would help if you also took note of the condition of your tires. It is advised to always have tires with a healthy amount of tread left on them. If they are bald, you are almost guaranteed to be spinning but going nowhere fast. These tires are some of the most popular (Paid Link) and capable tires off-roaders use.

Do Your Research

Do research beforehand and ensure your vehicle has enough clearance for the journey. It would be wise to avoid places with deep ruts and puddles you don’t know the depth of to prevent scraping the ground.

Putting a lift kit on your truck like these ones (Paid Link) could be a good investment if you have the means. Fronting the money now may prevent you from paying for repairs to your oil pan later.

Another big thing to remember is to always pay attention to your surroundings. You should never dive into a part of your journey you aren’t sure of. If you are with people who have 4WD vehicles, ask them to try it first.

What are 2WD vehicles also called?

2WD vehicles are referred to by quite a few other names. If you are shopping for a new car, you should keep these terms in mind to ensure you get the right vehicle.

  • 2WD (Two-Wheel Drive): This term refers to any vehicle that only utilizes 2 wheels, regardless of whether they are the front or rear wheels on the vehicle.
  • RWD – (Rear-Wheel Drive) This is a 2WD vehicle that only uses the rear 2 wheels to move forward. This basically is pushing the vehicle rather than pulling the vehicle like the next option. This is generally used on trucks, sports cars, luxury cars, and other vehicles.
  • FWD – (Front-Wheel Drive) – FWD is a vehicle where the front 2 wheels pull the vehicle along instead of pushing like RWD. These are commonly used in crossovers, sedans, and non-sporty vehicles as they are generally less engaging. Because there are some fantastic cars with FWD, like the Celica.
  • Prerunner – If you have ever been shopping for a Tacoma, you likely have been surprised to find 2WD trucks referred to as a Prerunner vehicle. These are basically RWD (2WD) vehicles that are meant for off-road. They tend to be less expensive but also less capable.

What other things should you keep an eye on when off-roading?

Now, while those three things we just talked about are significant aspects to keep an eye on, let’s quickly talk about a few other things you should keep an eye on when going off-roading that can help you in a pinch.

1. 4WDs have locking differentials

Unfortunately, if you have a two-wheel drive vehicle, you cannot have locking differentials on your car. Essentially, a locking differential is a device that locks both wheels on an axle together. Hence, they spin at the same speed. This is incredibly useful off-road as it allows both wheels to grip the ground, even if one is off the ground.

2. 4-Wheel Drives are heavier

This is one of the only downsides to a four-wheel drive vehicle! Due to differentials and other components, they are a decent amount heavier than the 2WD option, and this can mean you might get even more stuck if you can’t get out with the additional traction that 4WD provides.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you go off-roading with RWD?

For most trucks, the term 2WD is synonymous with RWD. Because of this, from what we have found in this article, you can quickly go to RWD vehicles as long as you take the appropriate precautions.

Can you turn a 2WD into a 4×4?

Modifying a 2WD into a 4WD (4×4) is possible. However, you will be adding quite a few components to the vehicle, and the cost will far outweigh the benefits. You will also likely find that reliability will drop dramatically when taking a system like that to something other than what it was meant to have.

Is a two-wheel drive truck worth it?

2WD trucks, while not quite as capable as a 4WD, can be highly worth it. You can save plenty of money on the front end, and if you don’t live somewhere with snow and wet roads, they can be just as good. 2WD vehicles also save a little bit of weight, making them more efficient.


It is possible to take your 2WD off-road and have a great time doing it. It is essential to have realistic expectations and prepare ahead of time for the terrain you will be out on. You may be unable to do everything a 4WD vehicle could, but there is still much fun.