GMC Terrain: Driving Information / Off-Road Driving

All-wheel-drive vehicles can be used for off-road driving. Vehicles without all-wheel drive and vehicles not equipped with All Terrain (AT) or On-Off Road (OOR) tires must not be driven off-road except on a level, solid surface. To contact the tire manufacturer for more information about the original equipment tires, see the warranty manual.

Controlling the vehicle is the key to successful off-road driving. One of the best ways to control the vehicle is to control the speed.

Warning

When driving off-road, bouncing and quick changes in direction can easily throw you out of position. This could cause you to lose control and crash. You and your passengers should always wear seat belts.

Before Driving Off-Road

  • . Have all necessary maintenance and service work completed.
  • Fuel the vehicle, fill fluid levels, and check inflation pressure in all tires, including the spare, if equipped.
  • Read all the information about all-wheel-drive vehicles in this manual.
  • Make sure all underbody shields, if equipped, are properly attached.
  • Know the local laws that apply to off-road driving.

Loading the Vehicle for Off-Road Driving

Warning

  • Unsecured cargo on the load floor can be tossed about when driving over rough terrain. You or your passengers can be struck by flying objects. Secure the cargo properly.
  • Keep cargo in the cargo area as far forward and as low as possible. The heaviest things should be on the floor, forward of the rear axle.
  • Heavy loads on the roof raise the vehicle's center of gravity, making it more likely to roll over. You can be seriously or fatally injured if the vehicle rolls over. Put heavy loads inside the cargo area, not on the roof.

For more information about loading the vehicle, see Vehicle Load Limits.

Environmental Concerns

  • Always use established trails, roads, and areas that have been set aside for public off-road recreational driving and obey all posted regulations.
  • Do not damage shrubs, flowers, trees, or grasses or disturb wildlife.
  • Do not park over things that burn. See Parking over Things That Burn.

Driving on Hills

Driving safely on hills requires good judgment and an understanding of what the vehicle can and cannot do.

Warning

Many hills are simply too steep for any vehicle. Driving up hills can cause the vehicle to stall.

Driving down hills can cause loss of control. Driving across hills can cause a rollover. You could be injured or killed. Do not drive on steep hills.

Before driving on a hill, assess the steepness, traction, and obstructions. If the terrain ahead cannot be seen, get out of the vehicle and walk the hill before driving further.

When driving on hills:

  • Use a low gear and keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
  • Maintain a slow speed.
  • When possible, drive straight up or down the hill.
  • Slow down when approaching the top of the hill.
  • Use headlamps even during the day to make the vehicle more visible.

Warning

Driving to the top of a hill at high speed can cause a crash. There could be a drop-off, embankment, cliff, or even another vehicle. You could be seriously injured or killed. As you near the top of a hill, slow down and stay alert.

  • Never go downhill forward or backward with the transmission in N (Neutral). The brakes could overheat and you could lose control.
  • When driving down a hill, keep the vehicle headed straight down. Use a low gear because the engine will work with the brakes to slow the vehicle and help keep the vehicle under control.

Warning

Heavy braking when going down a hill can cause your brakes to overheat and fade. This could cause loss of control and you or others could be injured or killed. Apply the brakes lightly when descending a hill and use a low gear to keep vehicle speed under control.

If the vehicle stalls on a hill:

  1. Apply the brakes to stop the vehicle, and then apply the parking brake.
  2. Shift into P (Park) and then restart the engine.
    • If driving uphill when the vehicle stalls, shift to R (Reverse), release the parking brake, and back straight down.
    • Never try to turn the vehicle around. If the hill is steep enough to stall the vehicle, it is steep enough to cause it to roll over.
    • If you cannot make it up the hill, back straight down the hill.
    • Never back down a hill in N (Neutral) using only the brake. The vehicle can roll backward quickly and you could lose control.
    • If driving downhill when the vehicle stalls, shift to a lower gear, release the parking brake, and drive straight down the hill.
  3. If the vehicle cannot be restarted after stalling, set the parking brake, shift into P (Park), and turn the vehicle off.
    1. Leave the vehicle and seek help.
    2. Stay clear of the path the vehicle would take if it rolled downhill.
  • Avoid turns that take the vehicle across the incline of the hill. A hill that can be driven straight up or down might be too steep to drive across. Driving across an incline puts more weight on the downhill wheels which could cause a downhill slide or a rollover.
  • Surface conditions can be a problem. Loose gravel, muddy spots, or even wet grass can cause the tires to slip sideways, downhill. If the vehicle slips sideways, it can hit something that will trip it — a rock, a rut, etc. — and roll over.
  • Hidden obstacles can make the steepness of the incline more severe. If a rock is driven across with the uphill wheels, or if the downhill wheels drop into a rut or depression, the vehicle can tilt even more.
  • If an incline must be driven across, and the vehicle starts to slide, turn downhill. This should help straighten out the vehicle and prevent the side slipping.

Warning

Getting out of the vehicle on the downhill side when stopped across an incline is dangerous. If the vehicle rolls over, you could be crushed or killed. Always get out on the uphill side of the vehicle and stay well clear of the rollover path.

Driving in Mud, Sand, Snow, or Ice

Use a low gear when driving in mud — the deeper the mud, the lower the gear. Keep the vehicle moving to avoid getting stuck.

Traction changes when driving on sand. On loose sand, such as on beaches or sand dunes, the tires tend to sink into the sand. This affects steering, accelerating, and braking. Drive at a reduced speed and avoid sharp turns or abrupt maneuvers.

Traction is reduced on hard packed snow and ice and it is easy to lose control. Reduce vehicle speed when driving on hard packed snow and ice.

Warning

Driving on frozen lakes, ponds, or rivers can be dangerous. Ice conditions vary greatly and the vehicle could fall through the ice; you and your passengers could drown. Drive your vehicle on safe surfaces only.

Driving in Water

Warning

Driving through rushing water can be dangerous. Deep water can sweep your vehicle downstream and you and your passengers could drown. If it is only shallow water, it can still wash away the ground from under your tires. Traction could be lost, and the vehicle could roll over. Do not drive through rushing water.

Caution

Do not drive through standing water if it is deep enough to cover the wheel hubs, axles, or exhaust pipe. Deep water can damage the axle and other vehicle parts.

If the standing water is not too deep, drive through it slowly. At faster speeds, water can get into the engine and cause it to stall. Stalling can occur if the exhaust pipe is under water. Do not turn off the ignition when driving through water. If the exhaust pipe is under water, the engine will not start. When going through water, the brakes get wet and it may take longer to stop. See Driving on Wet Roads.

After Off-Road Driving

Remove any brush or debris that has collected on the underbody or chassis, or under the hood. These accumulations can be a fire hazard.

After operation in mud or sand, have the brake linings cleaned and checked. These substances can cause glazing and uneven braking. Check the body structure, steering, suspension, wheels, tires, and exhaust system for damage and check the fuel lines and cooling system for any leakage.

More frequent maintenance service is required. See the Maintenance Schedule.

    Loss of Control

    Skidding There are three types of skids that correspond to the vehicle's three control systems: Braking Skid — wheels are not rolling. Steering or Cornering Skid — too much speed or steering in a curve causes tires to slip and lose cornering force...

    Driving on Wet Roads

    Rain and wet roads can reduce vehicle traction and affect your ability to stop and accelerate. Always drive slower in these types of driving conditions and avoid driving through large puddles and deep-standing or flowing water...

    Other information:

    GMC Terrain 2018-2021 Owners Manual: Rear Seat Belt Comfort Guides


    Warning A seat belt that is not properly worn may not provide the protection needed in a crash. The person wearing the belt could be seriously injured. The shoulder belt should go over the shoulder and across the chest. These parts of the body are best able to take belt restraining forces...

    GMC Terrain 2018-2021 Owners Manual: Replacing Seat Belt System Parts after a Crash


    Warning A crash can damage the seat belt system in the vehicle. A damaged seat belt system may not properly protect the person using it, resulting in serious injury or even death in a crash. To help make sure the seat belt systems are working properly after a crash, have them inspected and any necessary replacements made as soon as possible...

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