We live in such an incredible country, and yet so many people never get to truly explore it. If you own a 4WD, you know how much more you can enjoy what we have. Being able to get up close and personal with what Australia offers is truly an amazing experience. 4WDing doesn’t have to be expensive, but it sure opens up a whole new world. There are plenty of things that you need to know, and the posts below cover some of them. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to leave a comment.
Dual cab utes are super popular, and for good reason. They are extremely versatile, and can do the job of two different cars fairly easily. However, as part of the package, you get a lot of tray or tub that sits behind the rear axle, and this can be very, very bad.
By now, you would have seen at least a couple of bent dual cab utes. If you haven’t, jump on Google and look around. Almost every week someone bends a dual cab ute chassis, and although there are many different factors that contribute to it happening, you start way behind the eight ball by design on a dual cab.
Every day there are arguments, questions and lengthy discussions about what is legal when it comes to towing with a 4WD, and every guide I’ve ever read has not made things overly simple or clear.
There was an educational exercise done in the Eastern States some time ago, where a heap of vehicles towing caravans and other trailers were weighed in various ways by the transport authority and police. Majority of them were not legal. Only one fine was handed out with the intention of it being an educational exercise, but it proves the fact that people don’t understand what needs to be done to be compliant.
When it comes to solar power for your 4WD, Caravan or Camper trailer, the age old question is this; should you go with fixed panels, or portable ones? People will argue all day over which is better, and I’m here to settle it once and for all.
Fixed panels are attached to your vehicle or trailer in a way that makes them difficult to remove. Usually this means bolts, but sometimes they are riveted or siliconed in place too. You’ll find them mounted to roof racks, on top of caravans, on boat loaders and sometimes even angled as wind deflectors on the top of 4WD’s. These are wired up permanently, and feed power into your batteries whenever the sun is out.
Modern 4WD’s are absolutely incredible when it comes to fuel economy. You can get a full size 4WD that’s far more economical than a sedan from 15 years ago, despite the huge weight and size difference. However, there is no beating physics. No matter what you do, here are 10 things that will totally destroy your fuel economy.
The question of ‘how much bigger tyres can I fit’ on your 4WD comes up regularly, and one of the most overlooked pieces of information is what the law is, and what the consequences are of running a vehicle that has tyres bigger than they are allowed to be.
VSB 14 states that you can increase the tyre size by 50mm. What it doesn’t make clear though, is that in some cases you can actually go more than this.
One of the first things that made itself onto the mod list for the new Dmax was underbody protection, or bash plates. The reason for this is simple; there are some very expensive, vulnerable and low to the ground bits of gear underneath the Dmax.
Ever wondered why your eBay solar panel doesn’t produce anywhere near what it should do? Maybe you’ve been scammed like a heap of other people, by false advertising sellers on eBay.
I’m in the market for another 12V solar panel, for the top of our Dmax’s Canopy. I’ve bought a couple over the years, and each time I’m in awe of how much cheaper they’ve become. However, what I’ve discovered just recently, is a lot of 12V solar panels being sold on eBay are falsely advertised.
Changing tyre sizes on 4WD’s is relatively common practice, but there’s a few things you want to consider before doing it. Knowing what the standard tyre size is for your 4WD is imperative when making these choices. If you’ve bought a vehicle second hand, how do you know whether the tyres on it are the standard size?
There is no end to the list of 4WD modifications and accessories on the market today. You can convert independent suspension to a solid axle, fit portal axles, remote reservoir shock absorbers, air tanks and 240V power. The only limitation is how deep your pockets are!
That said, what’s the purpose of 4WD modifications and accessories? Why do so many people spend a small fortune doing their 4WD up? How many people actually sit down and think about their modifications and accessories properly, before spending money on them? When you want to modify a 4WD or add an accessory, do you stop and think about the reasons behind doing it?
A substantial amount of Australia is connected by gravel roads. If you’ve done much gravel driving you would have heard of corrugations. They can be absolutely terrible both from a comfort and potential damage perspective.
Despite costing a mere couple of bucks, your radiator cap is one of the most important parts of your 4WD. They do not last forever, and can ‘let go’ without much notice. Not a whole lot of fun if you are in the middle of the bush.
The cooling system for your 4WD’s motor plays a massive role. It regulates the motors temperature by allowing it to warm up as required and then stay under a certain temperature. If its not working properly, the results can be devastating and extremely expensive.
If you own a modern turbo diesel without a catch can, you’ll probably look back in the future and wish you’d fitted one. You can get a variety of different brands and models of catch cans for $150 – $450 installed, and they play a hugely important role for your motor.
When you are bouncing your way along a corrugated road in the middle of no where, spare a thought for what is happening to the many bits and pieces that make up your 4WD. Punishment is a word that would accurately describe the life of many 4WD’s, and they do an exceptional job overall.
Buying a 4WD isn’t a cheap exercise, no matter how you look at it. When you browse through potential 4WD’s, you’ll see some have huge lists of modifications and accessories and others have none. It begs the question; should you buy a 4WD in stock condition, or one that’s been modified?
Whilst a 4WD with big muddies, a lift kit and lots of bar work might look attractive, avoid getting attached to it before you take a few minutes to really think it through.
4WD recoveries generally involve a lot of force, and if something breaks it can do a lot of damage. There’s been more than a handful of people killed in Australia over the years when 4WD recoveries have gone wrong. One of the biggest risks in a 4WD recovery is that something metal breaks. If this happens, and its under tension (like a winch rope or snatch strap), its going to take off faster than you’ll be able to see.
Shackles are a regular part of 4WD recoveries. The trouble though, is people attach them to places where they shouldn’t!
A lot of 4WD’s run viscous fan hubs. Over time, they deteriorate and eventually stop working. This means your engine has very little air being sucked through via the main cooling fan and as a result it can overheat. The viscous fan hub is one of the most commonly overlooked components on a 4WD, and whats worse is it plays one of the most critical roles. It’s a recipe for total disaster; when did you last check yours?
A few days ago a young man in Queensland went out to recover a mates bogged 4WD, and paid the ultimate price. The news are saying a shackle broke free and came through the window, killing him. An absolutely terrible tragedy, and we pass our condolences onto his family and those affected.
Buying a 4WD is an awesome experience, and it gives you access to so much more of this spectacular country. If you are lucky enough to pick up a new 4WD then most of these tips become null and void. If however, like the rest of us, you are picking up a second hand 4WD, its a good idea to work your way through this list. It will save you a lot of headache down the track!
Some of these jobs require basic technical skills – if you aren’t sure, get someone who knows what they are doing to show you how, or take it to a qualified mechanic.
Australia is truly an amazing place. We’ve been lucky enough to see a fair chunk of it over the years, and are continually working on improving the way we travel. Up until now, we’ve been using an 80 Series Land Cruiser and an Oztent RV5, along with various other bits of gear.
4WD insurance is a touchy subject, and for plenty of reasons. There’s now a dedicated insurance company in Australia for 4WD’s. If you haven’t checked them out, you really should!
There’s plenty of things to learn when you get a 4WD. Here’s 15 you probably didn’t know.
The most rookie mistake you can make is to cross water in a 4WD without a snorkel. Don’t do it; find out why here
The little loops on the front of ARB Bull Bars are not recovery points, so don’t use them for it!
There’s plenty of mistakes made when modifying a 4WD. Check these out, and save yourself a bucket load of money, time and stress in the process
The age of your 4WD Tyres is important. If you don’t know how to check the age, check this out.
Tow ratings with 4WD’s are the new ‘best selling item’. The thing is though, manufacturers are being sly about it, and not telling you the whole story.
Being stuck on the beach isn’t fun, but its not the end of the world. Here’s what you should do to get moving again.
Diff lockers might be the ultimate setup on a 4WD, but how do they compare to Traction Control? Is it really worth the extra expense?
Every now and again it all just goes pear shaped. When that happens, what do you do?
If you want to know exactly how much fuel your 4WD is using, check this out; its simple, easy to do and worth doing.
How good would a map be, showing you where all the 4WD Accessory shops are in Perth? If you are looking for diesel tuning, custom storage builds, custom bar work and snorkels, batteries, communication equipment or just general 4WD accessories, you will find it all here, on a convenient little map!
Over the years I’ve come across some pretty handy little resources, which I’ve shared in this post.
There’s nothing worse than having to pull your carpets out to dry them when you drown your 4WD, and that’s if you get lucky. Get unlucky, and you can be up for a new engine!
Just because you can go up something quickly doesn’t mean its a good idea to do so! Momentum is a very critical part of 4WDing, and if you get it wrong you will eventually do damage!
I’m pretty happy with the way our 80 series has turned out. In this post, you can see every single modification and accessory, through photos!
Having a 210 litre fuel capacity isn’t really necessary; you should only carry the amount of fuel you actually need.
New to 4WDing? Even if you aren’t, there’s bound to be a tip or two here to get you on the right track!
Our 80 series Land Cruiser has a fair bit of gear in the back of it, and for good reason. Have a read of what we’ve got in our 4WD, and why!
Snatch straps are great tools, when used properly. They are not designed for every single application. so have a read and use them accordingly.
Did you know your tyre pressures change significantly, depending on a number of factors? When do you check your tyre pressures?
4WD’s are not cheap. I’ll be blunt; they are a money pit! That said, there are plenty of ways you can reduce the costs of owning a 4WD.
Despite the fun of ploughing your 4WD into a great big mud hole, it’s one of the worst things you can do to your 4WD. Find out why here.
Taking the time to plan your 4WD holiday makes all the difference. Sure, be flexible, but at least have an idea of what you are doing!
There’s some seriously dodgy 4WD recoveries going on in Australia. Do you ever stop to think about the weakest link in your recovery?
With some basic knowledge and tools, along with a bit of time up your sleeve, you can save a fortune by doing some of the basic work on your 4WD.
I see people requesting help all the time, who have zero recovery gear. You should not be heading off road without the basics; find out what they are here.
I got quite a rude shock working through the numbers on our 80 series Land Cruiser. I’ve spent way more than I’d have liked!
Sure, the water spraying over your 4WD makes for a good photo, but its one of the worst things you can do to your 4WD.
Big tyres look tough, give more clearance and traction. But what about the downsides? There’s lots to think about before putting bigger tyres on your 4WD!
If you’ve got no Rated Recovery Points on your 4WD, a rear recovery hitch is the next best option.
No one would like to see a mate, or bystander hurt or even killed in a 4WD recovery that wasn’t done safely. Have a read of these 20 things, and take care out there!
The 4WD Accessory market has grown hugely over the last 10 years. The thing is though, you don’t actually need everything under the sun!
Tyre pressures are the single most important factor you can control when 4WDing. Why? Have a read!
How many people buy a 4WD, deck it out and then decide it isn’t what they need? Wouldn’t it be good if you could get the right 4WD, the first time around?
Pick the wrong tyre pressures for beach driving, and you could end up in a world of pain!
Yep, there are downsides of adding 4WD accessories, and yet people seem to ignore them!
If you haven’t been bogged yet, your time will come!
If you do managed to get stuck, you need to know how to safely and easily get moving again.
I am surprised at the number of 4WD vehicles driven on the road in Australia that are illegal. A lot of the owners are unaware that it is the case, but many are well aware of it and are willing to take the risk. Do you realise what you are risking? Have a read of the post to find out more.
Another very important factor is the weight of your 4WD. Do you know what your GVM, payload and towing capacity is? If you haven’t done the maths and estimated weights, I’d suggest you do; its quite scary!
The most common question I get asked is ‘What 4×4 should I get’? At the end of the day, you want something that is going to do what your requirements are. There is no point buying a hugely lifted Patrol if you plan on using it to tour Australia. I’ve written a post detailing some of the things you need to consider before jumping in and purchasing a four wheel drive. This will ensure that in the long run, you will be happy with the 4WD you buy, and not be tempted to get something different.
From the moment you pick up your 4WD, it is imperative that you take some time to sort insurance out. Firstly, make sure you have third party at the very least. This is super important. From there, make sure that your 4WD is legal. If it has bigger tyres or a suspension lift over 2″, you are likely to have a 4WD that doesn’t meet any of the insurance companies criteria in Australia.
What is a 4WD? Why do people own 4WD’s? If you want to see Australia with the most unrestricted perspective, a 4WD is the way to go. They open up a whole new world of camping, fishing, relaxing and enjoying this beautiful country that we live in. Find out more about 4WD vehicles here.
If you haven’t ever done any 4WDing before, its a good idea to get some training. There have been plenty of people who have driven brand new 4WD’s into situations that they shouldn’t have, and totally written their vehicles off. Take the time to do a bit of learning, and you will be very thankful down the track. Find out more about 4WD training here.
Before you head off road, the first thing you need to do is check for rated recovery points on the front and the rear of your 4WD. If you haven’t got them, install them, or you have no where to safely be recovered, or recover from
No matter how big your lift kit is, and how many lockers you are running, if you can’t convert the power into traction, you aren’t going anywhere! 4WD tyres are one of the most important parts of your 4WD, and there are plenty of different choices that can be made.
A 4WD is never going to be the most economical car in the family, but where it can go makes up for that. There are plenty of things you can do to make sure your 4WD is using the least amount of fuel possible, which I’ve written about here.
The factory 80 series lights are shocking, to a point that they are dangerous. You can find out how much of a difference replacing the wiring harness, globes and reflectors made in this post
Despite hundreds of people having been killed throughout the world by snatch straps, people continue to use them incorrectly. A snatch strap is a very useful piece of recovery gear, but you need to use it safely and correctly.
I’m often asked what 4WD accessories I recommend. There are a few, but just because they suit me doesn’t mean they will suit you. 4WD’s are very individual, and should be modified in a way that makes them more functional for the owner. I don’t recommend spending huge money on 4WD accessories unless they are going to improve your 4WD in a way it needs to be, for you!
Getting a cheap 4WD is a bit of an art, and one that takes patience, lots of research and commitment. Then, there are a huge range of costs associated with keeping the 4WD.
In a country where we have over 30,000km of coastline, its pretty important that you know how to safely, comfortably and reliably drive on a beach in your 4WD. The skills are very easy to learn, and you will be cruising down the beach shortly.
With a range of cheap traction aids coming onto the market, its no wonder people find it confusing about what to buy. To read an honest, independant review on Maxtrax, you want to read my post.
If you want to learn about 4WDing quickly, there is no better place than a 4WD forum. I am a member of a number of forums, and you can find a list of them here.
One of the more common modifications to any 4WD is to lift it. There are a couple of ways of doing this, and for the early Hilux’s, this post details the various choices you have to make when lifting your fourby.
Having owned a couple of vehicles on LPG, I know a little bit about them. My Hilux had 135 litres of LPG on board, and I go through the myths, benefits and problems of having an LPG vehicle.
Sometimes, it’s more economical to hire a 4WD. There are a range of places where you can do this, but you need to be aware of a few things before you jump in.
Preventing rust on your pride and joy should be a priority regardless of where you live, and you can do a few things to ensure it stays rust free for many years to come!
The old 2.4 litre Hilux’s (and 2.8 litre diesels) are brilliant vehicles off road, and this is clearly shown by there huge level of popularity today, some 20 odd years later!
My first 4WD was a 1997 Toyota Hilux. I’ve since upgrade to an 80 series Land Cruiser, but there is a tonne of information on this post that will help those with Hilux’s. They are an awesome vehicle!