onM-Class 2001 Spring Trip to Death Valley

The best way to deal with grown in rocks ("icebergs" that can't be removed without a bulldozer) is to drive slowly with the center of your tire over them to avoid comression cuts. But this technique poses another danger for the M-Class - to get stuck! Wheel travel is so limited that trying to drive over a rock like the one depicted below will cause the left tire to spin (and because there is always the same reaction at the tire diagonally opposed - the right rear tire will also start spinning). Theoretically 4ETS will react to the spinning tires and slow them down so you could continue driving over that rock. We found however, that even in low range the tires spin too long and dig deep holes into the lose gravel - making it much more difficult to drive on. More importantly, it makes it close to impossible for the following vehicles to negotiate that spot.

We had to resort to a lot of road building. For example placing a same size rock (or several smaller rocks) in front of the left tire would create a level climb without spinning tires. The Jeep Grand Cherokee I used during the trip has plenty of wheel travel (but no traction management whatsoever) and was able to drive over this single rock without wheel spin or need for road building. It was a good demonstration of the M-Class' limitation. Especially since it was not even a medium difficult off-road situation - or would you consider a single small rock like the one below as difficult off-road?

Road condition: Old mining road in somewhat graded river bed, natural gravel with the occasional rocks sticking out of the ground

I apologize for using images with a Jeep Grand Cherokee - I did not take pictures with MLs on that particular section of the road during our Death Valley trip but the images used were taken on exactly the same stretch of road. This way you get a good impression of the surface and "rock situation".

  invitation 2001

invitation 2002

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