2011 Land Rover LR2 HSE Water & Mud

So, the trail is absolutely horrendous because the heavens decided open up and release their bounty of water. Ten minutes ago, the sun was out; friction and grip were more than plentiful. Three hundred feet ago, there wasn’t a small water feature in front of the lead vehicle. Now, Grasshopper, what is there to do with all this mud? Bring out the pulse throttle.

No, it is not a futuristic weapon or even bolt-on modification. It is actually a driving technique that dates back to the years ago when traction control wasn’t even offered from the factory. By simply using pulse throttle, even the nastiest mud shakes in its earthen boots and relinquishes what little traction it has to offer.

Through the staccato-like cycling of the throttle, this fresh biting action is what slowly pulls the vehicle out of the muck.

The pulse throttle technique’s traction enabling methodology comes from the up and down cycling of the driver’s right foot. By bringing the tires to the point just past wheelspin, the lugs of the tread can unclog and show fresh rubber. Once the tires clean themselves, slightly reducing the throttle can allow the tires to freshly dig into what terrain is in front of them. Then, the process can start again and continue in rapid succession. The driver’s goal is to get the tires to bite over and over. Through the staccato-like cycling of the throttle, this fresh biting action is what slowly pulls the vehicle out of the muck.

Pulse Throttle and Momentum

This technique, however, works best when momentum is already being used: such as, while crossing mud holes. Through these sections, keeping momentum high is absolutely paramount. From a standstill, pulse throttle will not do much good unless the goal is to sink the vehicle up to the doors in sludge. The practical application is to use pulse throttle while moving through the mud. This means from the point the tires make contact with the squishy wet dirt all the way until all four are back on solid earth.

The Learning Curve

Now for the disclaimers: this is not a simple, one-size fits all approach to getting through the mud. With hundreds of different tread patterns, mounted to just as many different vehicles, traversing twice as many different terrains, pulse throttle is a skill to be practiced on per-vehicle basis. All tires unclog at different rates and mud changes characteristics throughout the different zip codes and elevations.

Unfortunately there is not a doctorate level course to take and gain instant terrain traction enlightenment. Tuition would be outrageous anyhow. The closest thing would be simply doing time in the driver’s seat during the muddy days on the trail. Having an actual grip of the steering wheel while trying pulse throttle can give the driver more understanding than just reading about it. This article is merely here to open the door: Grasshopper, you have to walk through.

2011 Land Rover LR2 HSE Water & Mud

A 2011 Land Rover LR2 traverses a mud/water obstacle.



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January 14, 2012

Brandon Jelson

Articles, Buying & Ownership, Off-Road

How To, Off-Road

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