How much off road can I do w my 2WD SMB?

#1
I just picked up a 2003 gas 5.4L SMB. I haven’t done too many trips with it yet, but I did just redo the inside I totally love how it all came out. BUT the only thing I’m a little bumbed about is that it’s not 4x4. I don’t want to do any crazy off roading but I would like to get into Baja mainly for surfing. I would love to be able to drive on the beach and I’m hoping at least some dusty sandy roads. Just wondering how much I can get away with in 2WD with some air downed off road tires and good clearance. Anybody out there have any good input? Does anybody think adding 4wd to this older SMB w/ 168k is worth it?
 
#2
You can do a locking diff for a lot cheaper than a 4wd conversion, this can help out a lot offroad. But if you're getting into rocky, bumpy, or really steep stuff, often what helps out a lot more than the front wheels driving too is the availability of low range - so you can go really slow and not beat up the vehicle in the rough.

For beach you don't need clearance really. If you start spinning and digging down, stop immediately before you get in too much trouble and do something else.

With wide tires aired down and maybe a buddy that has a 4wd with a tow rope or winch, you might do ok on the beach. Or maybe some traction devices similar to maxtrax - I'm not sure, I've never been in the deep sand with 2wd. I'd be concerned without that 4wd buddy along.
 
#3
Go practice somewhere with a lot of sand. You don't give your location, but if Baja is within your reach, then Pismo or the Desert probably is too. Lots of places to practice with plenty of people around to tow you.

make sure you have really good tow points first.
 
#4
workerdrone has it right. I used my 2wd offroad before my conversion, and I'd say the low range is a HUGE benefit, especially descending something like the Cerro Gordo road (long steep, with 2wd gotta stop to cool brakes). Getting some height will help, even just with bigger tires. It's possible to get even a 4wd stuck in sand though, and the turning radius is still awful. So it would be advisable to have a buddy anyway (actually advisable with even far more capable 4wds). Being able to air down, having a shovel and recovery strap, and so on are also helpful.

Frankly, the beating the inside takes on rocky and rutted stuff is what stops me even before I lose traction.
 

Gar.

New member
#5
Probably the most affordable option for you would be an air locker with a good air compressor. And wide tires that will expand when aired down.

My 2017 Chevy Express 3500 with Quigley 4wd, and Quigley 3-inch suspension lift (no SMB interior, just a mattress), stuck in the sand with the tide rising! If it were not for my past experience four wheeling in other vehicles, AND a pair of MaxTraax traction devices, that van would still be there! Be sure to use the bright orange straps that these traction devices come with. They will get buried and you will have fun finding them each time they get buried getting you out of the spot you're stuck in. It took me four hours to travel fifty yards, but we were able to get out! The trick is not getting impatient and burying the vehicle each time you travel past the devices.

Gar
 

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#6
A locker and low air pressure will help, but heavy vans will get stuck just looking at sand. I've spent a lot of time camped on the beach and I've literally pulled out 10-15 full sized vans in my life. Generally you're not driving on the beach to surf spots anyways, so as long as you're on the hardpack, you'll be OK.
 

Weldtec Designs

Supporting Sponsor
#7
Weldtec Designs ford van suspension lift

We have lifted a lot of 2wd Spotsmobile vans! Our Lift kits will improve overall ride quality along with giving you more wheels travel which is always a benefit off road. The ability to run larger tires will also help with the option to air down in softer sand. You can do a locker and its amazing were you can go in 2wd with one. We would love to help you make your van more capable.

Not a sportsmobile but still a class B


https://weldtecdesigns.com/product/1993-2014-ford-e-series-vans-stage-2-lift-baja-grocery-getter/
 
#8
We have lifted a lot of 2wd Spotsmobile vans! Our Lift kits will improve overall ride quality along with giving you more wheels travel which is always a benefit off road. The ability to run larger tires will also help with the option to air down in softer sand. You can do a locker and its amazing were you can go in 2wd with one. We would love to help you make your van more capable.

Not a sportsmobile but still a class B


https://weldtecdesigns.com/product/1993-2014-ford-e-series-vans-stage-2-lift-baja-grocery-getter/
Weldtec :drool:
 

shenrie

^^^ hates cars
#9
its more driver than vehicle. a good driver can get an ill prepared vehicle into places where a properly prepped vehicle with a inexperienced couldn't. 5% tires, 5% vehicle, 90% driver ;)
 
#10
Without the expense of the 4X4 conversion (look at U-Joint Off road, great ride and turning radius if you do), Weldtec is a good 2wd lift. Be sure to get a locker of some sort for the rear and look into Gear Vendors for an underdrive (low range). Gear Vendors will NOT work with 4X4 unless the transfer case is divorced as it goes behind the transmission. Maxtraax or other traction aids are a cheap insurance to help getting unstuck if solo or with help.
Vans are HEAVY and getting unstuck can be a challenge even with help.