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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Driving out on an "unimproved" road to see the Smithsonian Butte, we encountered this guy giving us the old "None shall pass." Just past both cow and "dangerous road" sign (clearly visible to the left of the bovine in this photo, though I somehow didn't stop to read it - duh) the road went downhill and immediately into fairly deep, rutted mud. We still have the OEM Falkens on our Ascent and were pretty far out in the boonies so I felt and said: "We may be in trouble here." This was some very slippery clay and with the ruts at times I was in full lock one way but sliding in the other and we would have had zero chance of getting out on our own from a slide off. I turned on X-Mode and hoped to see a wide enough spot to turn around ASAP. I really thought that someone was going to be walking out for help (spotty, if any cell coverage) as I grew up on farms and know how things can go in deep clay. Fortunately we found a spot where others had turned around (standing water mud hole just beyond it), and I was able to get us going back in the direction of escape. At that point the thought was "at least we're facing in a better direction to be pulled out" because I just didn't see us getting back up that hill given the conditions. The X-Mode was allowing for a little tire spin and lo and behold, we were able to slowly climb up the hill and out of the mud. While I was amazed, I could tell immediately (even at 15 MPH) that the wheels were packed with clay and seriously out of balance, so I stopped and began trying to "de-mud" the wheels and wheel arches. It became clear very quickly that the stock 20" rims were not designed for the rapid removal of clay. It also became apparent that the left wheels and arches were far more packed than the right, so I assume the Symmetrical AWD was using them the most in both directions. Not complaining though as it rather miraculously got us out. We limped about 30 miles back to a DIY high-pressure car wash, but given the design of these rims there was no way that was going to be enough. I was just hoping it would improve things enough to feel better about going the rest of the way home. It wasn't much better, as there was still clay lining the hollow back of the wheel "spokes", but we managed to get back home. Once in the driveway I crawled underneath and pulled 30+ pounds of clay from the wheels, arches, brakes, etc. That made things a lot better (go figure so I went back to another high-pressure DIY car wash, crawled under it there and was able to remove much of the rest.

We've been considering 18" rims and some Geolandars. Upon entering the mud I was thinking "we could really use those beefier tires about now". On the other hand, I also wonder if that would only have given me the (false) confidence to keep going and really get the thing buried.

So to sum up:

1. I never had any intention of "going mudding", but could not have been more impressed that the Subie got us out in spite of the OEM Falkens. I thought we had no chance of getting back up that hill.

2. If we do go for the 18" rims and "beefier" rubber, I will choose rims that aren't designed to collect and store mud like the OEM 20s and remember that the Ascent isn't for "mudding". I hate mud.

3. I love X-Mode and Symmetrical AWD.

4. Next time, I will heed the cow's warning and turn around. Did I mention that I hate mud?
 

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I grew up in a different time and place, where "off road" meant there is not, never was and never will be anything that could be considered remotely like a flat area someone might consider a "road". Heck, deer trails was considered a road, if only for deer.

Three lessons I have learned for that. 1.) It is all about tires. A Geo Metro can go some places that 4x4 struggle if you have tires and don't care. 2.) Momentum. When you have it you are as good as gold, when you lose it, you are literally dead in the mud. 3.) If you have to lock it into 4 low, you better have a wench or another 4x4 with you. You will push your limits.
 

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After a muddy shooting trip with my truck after some rain, washing it 2x, mud/clay was falling off my truck for weeks, and added surface rusted a lot of the underbody I don’t think I’ll ever do mud again unless I had to. Nor dry lake beds. I changed a taillight bulb on my truck recently and there was still dust from a Burning man trip from 2005 ? behind the housing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I am in total agreement. I do not like mud at all, and will hope to avoid it most of the time here in the desert. I've washed it twice already and still see plenty of mud left under there. Not the car's fault, it's clay. One of the only things I dislike about the Ascent is how the wheels blast mud up under the bottom of the door where it cannot be removed without having the door open. Guess I need to get over to the Rally Armor site.
 
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