Ask a simple question online and you'll get 5 different answers. Which one (if any) is correct? They say free advice is seldom cheap.
If there's one thing that frustrates me to no end, its poor quality advice. We live in a world where information is so easily accessible, but the quality of that advice varies greatly.
The 4WD, camping and travel industry is massive, and you can spend an absolute fortune setting up how you travel. What you buy and how you set the system up relies on good quality information and advice or you are in for a world of pain in lost time, frustration and money.
Facebook is the ultimate example of this; an amazing resource with so many different 4WD, camping and travel groups and pages that have a heap of combined, relevant, useful and accurate information. However in many cases that useful information is surrounded by hundreds of responses that range from mildly incorrect to exactly the opposite of what you should be doing. The sad thing is that people actually do get led astray by such advice.
Go to the right source of information first
There are a myriad of different places you can go to get information; forums, social media, websites, books and by speaking to people in the know. Start with the right people first, and you are more likely to get a correct answer.
People think that by asking a question on Facebook they will get an answer quickly and easily, but how do you know whether its actually true? If you want information on diesel motors, perhaps the 'Everything Caravan and Camping' page isn't the place to ask?!
Every week there are posts from people wanting to know what is legal in their states for modifying a 4WD. Most of the time there are at least 5 different answers. The thing is though, there's only one answer; 4 (possibly even all 5) of the answers are wrong! For something that's so critical, go to the right source of information; ring your local transport authority or go through their website to find the correct information.
Likewise, if you are chasing information on 12V electrics, go to an auto electrician or 12V shop. For diesel issues, don't ask your neighbour unless he's a qualified diesel fitter! If you go to the right source of information you are much more likely to get a correct, and helpful answer.
Don't offer advice on things you don't understand
It takes a few seconds to write a reply on Facebook, a forum or a blog post. Everyone likes to weigh in, but if you don't know what you are talking about, you should refrain from commenting. Comments from those who don't know what they are talking about just add to the confusion and make it even harder to get decent information.
Don't believe everything you read
Someone asked a question the other day on Facebook about battery voltages; what should I be allowing my deep cycle battery voltage to get down do overnight? There were a few correct answers (around 12 - 12.2 volts) along with several that added no value and a couple that were just plain and simple wrong. 10 volts, one bloke pipes up. I'm pretty sure the bloke was trying to be helpful, but he has done exactly the opposite of that.
Just because you are told something, or you read something, doesn't mean its true. Take it with a grain of salt, and confirm it elsewhere
Confirm what you've read elsewhere
If I read something online, I'll confirm it via at least one other source before adhering to it. There's too much conflicting and incorrect advice out there that you need to do this. It's a shame, but that's the way this world is going. Lots of easily accessible information, with much of it absolute and total garbage.
Some things are not black and white
I want to be clear here; there is absolutely room for discussion of thousands of different facets when it comes to 4WD's, camping and travel. Some things are not black and white, and there are plenty of discussions that are helpful. However, plenty of things are black and white, and if you are getting numerous and varying replies, perhaps the information being offered is not correct.
Where can you get solid advice from?
Facebook is fantastic for reviews and opinions. If you are looking for somewhere to visit, or a review on a piece of camping gear then its a great start. However, unless you find a quality group, its not the place for technical questions. Be very aware of those with vested interests too; sales people often put their sales over the importance of accurate advice, so confirm it with someone else before you heed it.
- Mechanical - A quality mechanic, model specific forums and your vehicle manufacturer.
- 12V electrical - Auto electrician, 12V shop that is non biased
- 4WD modifications, accessories and legalities - Quality 4WD accessory distributors and those who run the accessories you want to fit. Non biased installers (those who fit a range of gear)
- 4WD legalities; modifications, Vehicle payloads, GVM, GCM, towing capacities - The department of transport or a vehicle engineer. Your 4WD's manufacturer can give you the correct specs too
- Camping gear - Those who have used what you are looking to buy extensively, or quality camping stores like Snowys.
- Places to visit - Those who have been to where you are looking at going
- Track conditions - Recent reviews from those with similar vehicles to what you are taking
- 4WD Insurance - Your insurance company, or those you are considering. Take what's said online with a grain of salt; a lot of it is garbage.
- How to drive a 4WD - 4WD courses, Youtube videos, experienced friends.
- General 4WD information - Quality 4WD magazines like Pat Calinhans Mr 4x4, Unsealed 4x4, 4x4 Australia and quality websites (like www.4wdingaustralia.com!)
In each of the above scenario's, get at least one additional company or individual to confirm what you've been told!
Ever been misled by terrible advice?
There's no shame in being misled; it happens all the time. Sometimes its intentional, and many times it's not. Either way, its a right pain and can be very costly. Have you ever been given terrible advice? Let us know below!