Top 5 Tips for 4X4 Veterans and First Timers
So, you have a four-wheel drive and keen to get out into the wild and take it for a run out into the wild and get covered from towbar to bull bar in sand, mud or water.
So to create memories for the right reason check out our handy guide to hitting the road over the Easter break.
1. Plan where you want to go
Your new 4×4 wheel drive might be able to go almost anywhere but when you are diving deep into the unknown, it’s best practice to do some research about the area you intend to explore. Even if you have been there before the landscape and the climate may have changed dramatically since the last time you were there. Be as well prepared as you can for any situation that may come up by taking to time to learn more about the terrain and the area.
Due to the isolated locations of most 4×4 trails, they are often not maintained or checked regularly. A storm or accident could lead to circumstances that make the road impassable, casting a fun day into a frustrating or dangerous situation pretty quickly.
Make sure you know whether or not there is mobile phone service, and if not, ensure that you are equipped with a satellite phone and/or have friends close by – just in case you end up in the bush or any other isolated area without a ride home.
2. Learn how to get out
An essential skill for anyone keen on 4WDing. At some stage in your off-road career, you will more than likely come across another vehicle needing help to get out of the mud. There’s a very good chance you will need assistance yourself at some stage and helping each other out is a big part of the off-roading community. Learning how to do this safely and efficiently will help a great deal.
But what if you are on your own? If you don’t have a winch there are a number of techniques that can be used to get a vehicle out of deep mud.
Don’t spin your tyres in frustration. The reason you are in this situation in the first
place is because your tyres are struggling to gain traction in the mud or snow. If you get stuck on your first attempt, select reverse and see if you can go backwards. Quite often a build-up of mud in front of wheels is what halts forward momentum. Select reverse, back up as far as safely possible and have another try
with a bit more momentum. If you attempt to drive out at all, do so slowly and wait for
the tyres to get traction before accelerating away.
- Keep a shovel in your boot. You can use this to dig out around your wheels and to compact the surface within which you are stuck.
- Keep a bag of sand or kitty litter next to your shovel. You can create traction where there is none by laying down course material for your tyres to grip on to. Alternatively, you can use tree and leaf matter to provide a base as well.
- Put some elbow grease in. Get your mates to help you out by pushing as you gently accelerate to help gain traction as pressure is added to the tyres.
- If you are on an incline, you can always try rolling back to a point where the ground is less soft. Get your co-driver to guide you if visibility is poor or you might just end up in a worse position than before.
3. Gear up appropriately
If you’re planning on driving on a long trip possibly over sand dunes and rocky terrain, you had better have the vehicle and accessories for the job. Not all 4WD vehicles are suited to all kinds of off-roading. Research the terrain you are going to be crossing and adjust your vehicle’s set up accordingly.
In some cases, your four-wheel drive simply won’t be suited to the kind of terrain you want to drive. Before purchasing a vehicle, do your research and make sure it’s worthy of the conditions you throw it at.
Before you set out on your trip book in for a service with your local mechanic and be sure that you have the right equipment and that your four Wheel drive is up to the task for the Easter period. Check you suspension, brakes, fluids, make sure your tyres are ready to take on the what lies ahead.
Driving through snow? Snow tyres will help you get traction and it’s best to have a set of chains in the boot in case things get icy. Looking at driving in sand dunes? Lower your tyre pressure to create a greater surface area and reduce the amount your 4WD sinks into the sand.
4. Don’t overload
A classic mistake people make when they start driving off-road is to assume that their big 4WD is capable of handling the mud and carrying the whole family and a much gear as you can jam in it – all at the same time.
Reducing weight is key to a successful drive. A few sacrifices before you leave could mean the difference between enjoying your camping holiday and spending your first night in the boot on top of a generator.
5. Do a course
Its not possible for us to tell you everything about 4WDing so before you decide to go
out on your own or with the family especially if it’s your first trip. Look for a course located in your local area that will give you the tips and tricks about 4-wheel driving and the best practice in staying safe and sound.
Its also a great way of meeting like minded people who enjoy the outdoors and adrenalin that comes from off road driving.