Towing Equipment

Sometimes when you need to be towed or pulled by another vehicle the need is urgent.  Like when you are stuck at the top of a long steep hill or when you are about to toll over.  In those cases you may need towing help immediately.

Your tow strap, and anything else needed to attach your strap should be within reach of either the Driver or Passenger, not in the back of your vehicle. (I keep mine on the floor behind the passenger seat.)  If you need a Shackle or other device to attach your strap to your vehicle it should also be easily available.  Loosen the pin on your shackle before the run.  Use wire or some other device to keep the pin from coming loose on the trail.  (I use Bungy Balls.)

Warning – Winches and Synthetic Winch Line

Many people don’t know, unless they read their winch manual carefully.
Most manuals  says you should  NEVER run the line out using the winch motor. Instead you should always put is in free spool and pull the line out manually.  That is the case for most brands of winches, including the Warn Brand.
The reason is that,¬† on most winch brands, including Warn winches, there is a friction¬† brake inside the drum.and it¬† is always on when you are running the line out using the winch motor. This is to prevent a “Run Away” while un-spooling under a load.¬† ¬†The motor is actually overcoming the brake¬† when running the line out and thus the drum gets very hot from the¬† friction. .¬† ¬†(Some other brands have a braking system outside the drum.)
One enemy of synthetic winch line is heat..
In Suzanne’s case the melted winch line didn’t cause the line to break.¬† I suspect it was one of the other enemies of synthetic winch line,¬† Old Age and Sunlight..
Synthetic line is great and nicer to use than steel cable but it can be damaged by heat, and sunlight as well as sharp rocks.  Since mot people go a long time between use of their winch, one should inspect your winch line from time to time.
Whether you have Synthetic winch line or Steel Cable, you should not use the winch motor to  un-spool your winch line.  Doing so can wear out the winch braking system if you have a winch with a braking system in the drum.

Welcome New Members

If you haven’t already done so, please consider posting a message on the Group Bulletin Board introducing yourself to the Group.

Tell us:

  • What you drive?
  • Are you new to 4 Wheeling?
  • What type of Runs are you interested in?
  • What city do you live in?
  • Are you interested in Camping Runs?
  • How did you find out about JustRuns ?
  • More about yourself.

(Before posting a message please read the JustRuns Posting Instructions.)
Send your message to

I look forward to meeting you on a Run soon.

Roger Mullins
JustRuns Founder

Yes, that’s how it is spelled.¬† One word with a capital “J” and a capital “R”.


Where is your Tow Strap ?

Often, when we ask a driver in need of a quick tow, “Where your tow strap?”¬† the answer is¬† “It’s in the back somewhere”.

Sometimes when a strap is needed, it is needed quickly.¬† We don’t have time to sort around looking for the strap.

Everyone’s tow strap should be within reach of the driver or passenger while they are in their seat.¬† A great place for one’s strap in on the floor behind the passenger seat.¬† That way the driver can quickly reach the strap and hand it to the person hooking it up.¬† Also, if your vehicle needs a shackle to hook on a tow strap the shackle should already be on the strap.


Dogs on Runs

Dogs  are Welcome on Runs unless Forbidden by Area Regulations.
Please be considerate of others who may not “Love” your dog like you do.

Please be considerate.  Not all people Love your dog like you do.  Keep your dog on a leash while in camp, on the trail or when the group is stopped for lunch.  Please pickup after your dog.

While on the trail, do not allow your dog to run free as the group travels.  Doing so can cause a  distraction for other drivers and can result in an accident damage or injury to participants or the dog.

While at camp, if you want to allow your dog to run Off-Leash, do so away from the camp area so it doesn’t annoy other Participants.

Trail Etiquette

  • Have all Required Equipment¬†and be properly equipped for the Difficulty Level of the Run as well as any Special Equipment indicated in the Run Announcement..
  • Arrive at the Meeting Place with fuel for a whole day of 4 Wheeling and in time to prepare your vehicle for the trail.
  • Drive a Reliable Vehicle.¬† If a vehicle has a known reliability problem do not participate on a Run.
  • Be Considerate of others.¬† Everyone may not love your dog, or your cigarette/cigar smoke.
  • Many people enjoy the sounds of nature.¬† Please keep your music low.
  • Radio communications should be relevant and brief.
  • Learn the name of the driver directly ahead and behind you as well as the Leader’s name in case you need to call for help..
  • It is each Driver’s responsibility to keep up with the vehicle ahead. [No, this is rescinded. Click the link.]¬† If you are having difficulty keeping or need to stop let the Leader know by radio.
  • If you Stop for more than a few seconds, for any reason, let the leader know by Radio.
  • When coming to intersecting trails or confusing turns, make sure the vehicle behind you sees which way to turn before you proceed.
  • At ¬†an intersection if you are not sure which way to turn, STOP.¬† Don’t guess and don’t proceed.¬†¬† Radio the person directly ahead by name for directions.
  • If you decide to leave a Run early, or take a different Trail from the Leader, let the Leader and those following you know that you are deviating from the Leader’s route.
  • If a vehicle becomes stuck or breaks down, let the other vehicles and the leader know to stop.¬† Keep other vehicles informed of the progress of repairs.
  • The driver of a disabled vehicle needs to help with repairs.¬† Even if not mechanically competent he/she should not expect others to do all the work.¬† (Do something, even it it is only to fetch tools.)
  • When a vehicle is disabled, everyone should provide assistance as needed.
  • The driver of a disabled vehicle that is repaired on the trail needs to return or replace any borrowed tools, parts or supplies.
  • In the event of a rollover or other dangerous situation with potential for a fire, all drivers should rush to the scene with their fire extinguishers.¬† Stop the engine and extract the occupants immediately.
  • At an obstacle, the vehicle behind should leave room for the vehicle ahead to negotiate the obstacle. If the obstacle is “Challenging” the vehicle ahead should wait just past the obstacle until the vehicle behind clears.¬† As soon as the vehicle behind clears the obstacle the first vehicle should pull far ahead enough or clear the trail for the whole group to negotiate the obstacle..
  • When approaching oncoming traffic¬† on a narrow road the leader should warn the following vehicles via radio.
  • When meeting oncoming traffic on a narrow trail, the leader should let the oncoming traffic know how many are in the group.¬† The last vehicle should let them know he is last.
  • When vehicles are passing from the rear the last vehicle should warn the vehicles ahead via radio.
  • In steep terrain, if there isn’t room for approaching traffic to pass, the vehicles headed down hill should give up hill traffic the Right of Way.¬† California Vehicle Code 21661¬† (Note: Even though vehicles traveling uphill have the Right of Way, common sense should be used.¬†¬† Sometimes it is safer for the smaller group to pull over to allow a larger group to pass.)
  • On very narrow trails, when oncoming traffic approaches, use common sense.¬† Whichever group can more easily pull over should do so regardless of the Vehicle Code mentioned below.
  • On narrow trails, it is best to leave generous space between vehicles in case you need to pull over to allow oncoming traffic to pass.¬† It is easier to find a single turnout than a turnout for several vehicles.
  • On narrow trails, where vehicles headed in one direction must pull off the trail, the leader of the group that is proceeding should inform the other group how many vehicles are following.¬† The last vehicle in the group that is proceeding should let the pulled over vehicles know that he is last.¬† The “conventional signal” is for the last vehicle driver to hold up a closed hand indicating no vehicles behind.
  • When approaching an obstacle going uphill, the driver ahead should move far enough ahead to allow the vehicle behind to clear the obstacle but remain close in case the following vehicle needs to be pulled.
  • When an uphill bound driver requests a spotter, it is usually best if the spotter come from a vehicle behind if there is an experienced spotter aboard.
  • When going downhill it is usually best if an experienced spotter comes from the vehicle ahead.
  • When stopped on a trail for a break, all vehicles should allow room for other vehicles to pass..
  • Remove all trash and pick up trash left by others.
  • Tread Lightly.¬† Avoid damage to the environment.
  • Remain on established trails.
  • We prefer you drink your alcohol after the day’s run while in camp.¬† We require participants to follow California State Law which forbids drinking while inside a motor vehicle at any time, even on private property.¬† We do not allow drinking while on the trail except we do allow adult participants to consume one single beer at lunch while outside their vehicle. ¬†See: Click
  • Use appropriate language on the radio, during rest stops and in camp.¬† This is a “Family Oriented” group.
  • To avoid confusion, only one person should give directions when spotting someone over an obstacle.¬† Others should only offer advice if they see a danger that the spotter doesn’t see.
  • When convoying on the highway, turn headlights on day and night and ¬†leave room between vehicles to allow other cars to pass..
  • Once the person behind you has cleared an obstacle, move your vehicle far enough ahead or off the trail so all other vehicles can clear the obstacle.
  • When attempting an obstacle, accept a tow after 3 unsuccessful tries. Do not risk injury or vehicle damage.¬† Don’t tear up the trail for others by spinning your wheels.
  • If a damaged vehicle leaves the Group, offer to provide an escort to a safe area.¬† Never leave a disabled vehicle’s occupants on the trail without another vehicle.
  • Tow straps and winch controllers should be available and easily accessible not “buried” in the back of your vehicle.
  • When passing other vehicles, hikers, equestrians or camps, slow down for safety as well as to lessen your dust cloud.
  • Be considerate.¬† In camp,¬† do not run generators or play music after 9 PM or before 6AM.
  • Be considerate.¬† Some prefer hearing Nature rather than your preferred music.¬† Please keep music at low volume.
  • Not everyone loves your dog, please keep your dog on a leash and clean up after it.
  • When convoying on the highway, all vehicles should have their headlights on.
  • When convoying on the highway, leave room between vehicles so overtaking vehicles can safely pass.

Replace a Tire Valve Stem the Easy Way

Occasionally a tire valve stem is damaged or torn while on the trail.  This often happens, particularly if the stem is old and has become brittle from age and the sun.

Here is a simple and easy way to remove and replace a valve stem without having to remove the tire from the vehicle or without having to break the tire bead to get inside the tire to remove and replace the rubber stem.



Where is Your Tow Strap and Winch Controller ?

Often, when one asks 4 Wheelers they will say in the back of their vehicle, often still in its original wrapper inside their tool box.

In an Emergency, when you need a tow strap or winch controller, you usually need it quickly.  They should be somewhere the driver can reach quickly while in his/her seat.  You certainly don’t want to have to open the back and sort around trying to find them.  When alone, a good place is on the floor in front of the passenger seat.  If you have a passenger, on the floor behind the passenger seat.

Alcohol Policy


Participants on our runs must follow California Laws on alcohol at all times. The law forbids operating a motor vehicle while under the influence and forbids drinking alcohol at any time while in a vehicle by either a driver or passengerwhether moving or parked. No open containers are allowed by law.  The law and our Rule do not distinguish between public or private property or the driver or passenger..

Participants should consume their alcohol in camp or at home, after the run.

We do not allow drinking during our Runs except  we do allow adults to drink no more than one beer during lunchbreak  while outside the vehicle.

We do object to participants (including passengers) having more than one beer, or other alcoholic drinks during the Run.  If they insist on drinking on a run, they will be asked to leave the Run and not go on future runs with the Group.

Like driving anywhere else, driving a vehicle off road while under the influence endangers the person drinking, other occupants of his/her vehicle as well as others on the trail.

Anyone, whether Driver or Passenger who refuses to follow this policy will be asked to not attend JustRuns Events/Runs.

Narrow vs. Wide Tires

Roger had this note here:

My wife prefers narrow (Pizza Cutter) tires (9.50 or 10.50) on her Jeep and she usually gets better traction than I have on my Jeep using wide tires. (12.50). She has better luck in both deep sand and on loose dirt. The article below seems to agree that for most off-road situations we often encounter, narrow tires are better. That is even though they don't look as "Macho".  - Roger

I took a closer look at that paper. Here are my comments.

It is a supposedly technical examination of the benefit of wide vs narrow tires. It was written by Scott Brady.

The original (but now dead) link to the paper was:

A copy can be found at:

The title is "Tire Selection for Expedition Travel: The impact of tire width on traction".

He summarizes his "position" as: "A tall, narrow tire is a superior choice for all off-highway surface conditions with the exception of deep, soft sand or mud."

Note that he says narrow tires are not better for soft sand.

Reading the article I find it to be 90% bogus. It is a confused mess of contradictions, malapropisms, tangents, and unnecessary technical-ish jargon.

He calls it an empirical study. There's nothing empirical in it.

He repeatedly brings up that a narrower tire will fit a vehicle when a wider tire won't. What's the point in bringing up a case in which one doesn't have a choice?

At about 1/3 down, after much introduction he says: "For the sake of the following details, assume that the test vehicle is 5,000 lbs., and a narrow tire would be considered a 33x10.5 R15, and a wide tire would be considered a 33x12.5 R15, both run at 15psi for trail use." Then he calculates contact pressure at 40 psi. Bogus. Contact pressure actually ends up being vary close to the inflation pressure. He has it at more than twice the inflation pressure.

He mentions "without equating the secant". What the hell is that? It is apropos of nothing. He just tossed in some random trigonometry term to sound scientific.

He simply states: "The wider the tire, the less the rubber will deform to the surface irregularity given the same vertical pressure." There is no support or explanation given. I see no reason to believe that.

With assumptions he gave the contact pressure and the contact area are nearly identical for both narrow and wide. Equal inflation pressure will give about equal contact pressure. With that and the equal vehicle weights you get equal contact area. The contact patch for the narrower tire will be narrower but longer than that of the wide tire. The area should be nearly the same for both cases.

Later he says: "A narrower tire generates greater vertical load on the rubber and the tread..." 
No, that is not true under the assumptions he gave.

He says: "A narrow tire presents less rolling resistance on improved surfaces..."
I've found several articles from bicyclists that say the opposite. The longer contact patch requires more flexing of the rubber. They say that increases resistance.

He says: "A narrow tire will cut easier through mud, snow and sand than a wide one (due to resistance)."
But doesn't that contradict his "position" at the beginning?

"The smoother and wider a tire is, the better it will perform in sand"
OK. Not exactly scientific but it sounds reasonable.

Overall that article is a mess.

-Steve  (12/2/2018)

Fuel Grade/Octane (Is Premium Better?)

Many people believe that using a higher Grade/Octane than called for in your User Manual is better for your engine.  It is not.  Using a higher octane than specified for your engine is not better for the engine and can cause damage.  Too high Octane can cause Un-burned fuel to pass through the combustion chamber into your exhaust system damaging it including your catalytic converter.  An exception is at high elevation.  There lower octane fuel than specified for normal driving elevations is recommended .  If you go to a gas station in high elevation locations like in Colorado you will notice that the octane rating for each grade (Reg./Mid/Premium) fuel is lower than the octane ratings at lower elevation location.

Sway Bar Disconnects

The purpose of being able to disconnect the front sway bar on a straight axle vehicle when off road is to allow the left and right front tires to move up and down somewhat independently.  With the front sway bar connected, whenever the wheel on one side goes up the sway bar tries to also lift the other wheel.  When one wheel moves up like to go over a large rock the sway bar tries to move the other wheel upward too.  Likewise with sway bars disconnected, when one wheel drops, like into a hole, the sway bar tries to make the other side drop. This causes the whole vehicle to rock side to side more. With the sway bar disconnected articulation is improved because  each wheel can move somewhat independently.  Besides giving a much more comfortable ride off-road, having the sway bar disconnected tends to keep both front wheels on the ground and thus improves traction.

A sway bar is basically intended for highway use.  In sharp turns, particularly at high speed, the sway bar tends to reduce a side to side rolling motion of the chassis particularly in turns at high speed.

Should I Drain Melt Water From My Ice Chest ?

As long as there is ice in the water inside the ice chest, you should not drain it unless the contents are being damaged by the water.¬† When water still has ice in it, the water is at or near 32 degrees F.¬† If that is colder than the air outside the ice box it is continuing to cool the contents.¬† You should not drain it unless you the contents are being damaged by the water.¬† A good solution is to put your ice inside a “Dry Bag” like is used for kayaking to keep things dry.¬† As the ice melts, the water will stay inside the dry bag and not damage the ice chest contents.¬† Keep in mind that when you drain the water, its volume is replaced by warm outside air.¬† Thus warming the ice chest contents.

<<< Click >>>

High Lift Jack (aka The Widow Maker)

High lift jacks are notorious for being Unreliable and Dangerous tools for changing tires. High Lift jacks are also heavy and bulky.  They are not the best tool for lifting your vehicle for  changing a tire. High Lift Jacks are also poor tools for the other things some people  claim they can be used for.

Much better and safer tools for lifting vehicles are available.   A safer way to lift your vehicle on the trail  to change a tire  is the jack that came with your vehicle. Probably Either a scissors jack, screw jack or a bottle jack.  For Liability reasons, no manufacturer includes High Lift Jacks with new vehicles and they do not allow their franchised dealers to install high lift jacks as aftermarket items when they sell a new vehicle.)  If your vehicle has been lifted so the OEM jack is no longer tall enough to change a tire, carry blocks to allow it to work.  Or take a look at hydraulic jack extensions like the ones offered by Bogert Manufacturing at

One reason high lift jacks are unreliable is that they are badly designed, crudely manufactured and are seldom maintained properly.  Also, they are usually carried outside of vehicles where they are subject to weather and dirt. The mechanism for these jacks is easily jammed either from dirt, rust or mechanical scoring of the moving parts.  Generally whenever you go to use your High Lift you also need to get a Hammer and Lubricant to make the mechanism work.

Another problem with them is because many people use High Lift Jacks improperly when changing a tire. Most people simply put the jack under the Bumper or Rocker Panel Slider and begin to lift the vehicle. They have to lift the vehicle quite a a bit before the tire begins to ¬†lift off the ground. The reason is that lifting from the bumper or the body one has to first “Unload” the springs before the tire begins to lift. As a result the jack has to be high up on the mast, thus ¬†less stable. ¬†This is particularly dangerous if the vehicle is not on flat and solid ground.

If you still insist on using a high lift jack, below are some techniques that make using a High Lift Jack safer.

  • Make sure the wheels are chocked to prevent the vehicle from rolling.
  • Try to place the foot of the jack on level, solid ground. Often this is not possible.
  • Use a ratchet strap between the frame and the axle so that when you lift the frame from the bumper, the tire raises immediately, without having to first unload the springs.
  • Make sure everyone stays clear from under the vehicle or near the jack.
  • When lowering the vehicle do not stand too close to the jack handle.¬†
  • When lowering a vehicle on a High Lift Jack, NEVER let go of the jack handle.

The  best place to store your  high lift jack while on the trail is back home in your garage.

About High Lift Jack Hood Mounts:
Do you really want that heavy mass of iron near your head in an accident, particularly a rollover?  It is likely going to break loose from the sheet metal hood in an accident .



Always run your engine when using your winch.  Running your winch on the battery alone will cause the battery voltage to drop and overheat the winch motor.