Having access to a 4WD gives you so much more choice for travelling, camping and fishing. There are thousands of places in Australia (and throughout the world) which are only accessible by four wheel drive. Some of these are nothing more than a few rough gravel roads and others require a well modified four wheel drive and some knowledge of how to drive it.
I’ve always been one to believe that the less people visit a particular spot the better it is. It is less disturbed, quieter and allows you to really get away from it. Of course, some of the best locations in the world have great access and plenty of people visit them, but usually just around the corner is a place which is just as nice, and yet only those with four wheel drivers can get to it. These days, there are plenty of reasons to hire a four wheel drive.
Why would you want a 4wd?
As I mentioned above, the main reason for 4wd Hire is to improve your access. Whether you want to drive onto the beach, go up a four wheel drive track or simply use the car to tow a big trailer, a four wheel drive is well worth having access too.
However, 4WD’s have their place. In the city, they are awkward to drive around, and they usually use more fuel than a 2WD car. For many families, you only need a four wheel drive for a week or two of each year, which is where hiring can become a good alternative to purchasing one.
The other end of the scale is that people choose 4wd Hire for commercial purposes. Perhaps you need to go away for a weekend and you need to take some gear with you? There are plenty of businesses that rent four wheel drives out that are designed to do just that. This can be a very financially viable option, regardless of how long you need the vehicle for.
Buy or Hire your 4WD?
4WD Hire is popular, and it wouldn’t be if it didn’t have a number of advantages over buying one. Whether you buy a 4WD or hire one comes down to your specific situation, which I can’t tell for you. However, I can tell you that owning a four wheel drive is not cheap, and if you don’t use it that much then maybe you would be better off hiring one when you need it.
By the time you add up the costs of registration, insurance, fuel, repairs, modifications and general maintenance you are looking at something that costs you a lot of money every year. For me, I choose to keep my four wheel drive because I have modified it to where I want it, and many of the hire vehicles wouldn’t be as capable. It also costs about the same to drive as a commodore or falcon anyway!
Obviously, it comes down to how much your four wheel drive is worth, and how you have set it up. Many of the 4wd Hire companies rent out cars that are very capable and comfortable. If you are only in one place for a few weeks then it makes sense to hire a four wheel drive out – at least you know it is going to be reliable. Many of the 4wd’s that you hire are set up so you can literally get in and drive away. You can even ask for them to come with the equipment that you need – camping gear, fridges, lighting etc (at a price!).
Do you want a Camper Trailer?
I am a big fan of Camper Trailers. They are considerably more comfortable than sleeping in a tent, and they are easy to store your gear in and pack to leave in a hurry. Many of the four wheel drives that you hire come set up to sleep in and cook around, which is handy. However, if you have more than a few people then they are not practical. You can actually hire Camper Trailers too, which is a great place to start!
What 4WD do you need?
Much like when you go to hire a 2WD car, you have many options when choosing a 4WD to hire. You can hire vehicles that are almost brand new, or get ones that are several decades old. There are dual cab utes, single cab utes, pop up tent four wheel drives, troop carriers, four wheel drive trucks and vans and even the soft four wheel drives.
Think about the car that you need in terms of room, economy, fuel type, off road ability and practicality. Many of the four wheel drives hired out for camping purposes come set up so you can do this with ease. This is handy when you are flying into a town – who wants to arrange a tent, fridge, cooking gear and the rest of the camping gear when you can get it all included for a few dollars more?
What are your 4WDing skills like?
Before you hire a four wheel drive, you need to know how to drive one. Sure, on the road they aren’t so hard to drive, but believe it or not there is plenty to know when you hit the tracks. Without the basic knowledge you are putting yourself and other people in harm’s way.
Simple things like engaging four wheel drive, knowing the right tyre pressures, speeds to drive at, being able to get out when you are bogged, knowing where you can drive safely and fixing any damage that occurs are vital for four wheel driving. The number of accidents in four wheel drives with those who don’t know these basic things is incredibly high – just look at Fraser Island for example. There are plenty of tourists in Australia who write off four wheel drives that they have hired simply because they have no experience driving one.
Don’t get into the 4WD hire game unless you know how to drive one, or you are very likely to make a decision that could cost you big time. People make four wheel driving look easy, but without that basic knowledge you can make some very silly (and costly) mistakes!
What else do you need?
Have a think about everything that you are going to need. If you are doing any four wheel driving then you will need a compressor, tyre deflator, tyre gauge, snatch strap, shovel, shackles and a bit of basic knowledge. If you are planning on camping then you need somewhere to sleep, to cook food and to stay dry. Fishing is vitally important (just kidding, well sort of!) so make sure you throw some rods in.
By planning well before you go on the trip you will save money and have a much more enjoyable and relaxing holiday. If you are doing any remote trips then you need spare parts, tools, repair kits for the tyres and even a second spare. You can never over plan your four wheel driving holiday!
Cheap places to hire a 4WD
There are plenty of places for 4wd Hire. Sargents is one of the most popular, and there is also Avis, Britz, Hertz, Budget Hire and Europcar. Be sure to shop around, and then compare. If you mention a cheaper price to one of the companies they will often match it, or throw some extra gear in for you. Be sure to compare apples with apples though – the hiring conditions often vary considerably.
Fuel in your 4WD
I will just quickly mention a few thoughts on your four wheel drives fuel. If you are travelling long distances then a diesel four wheel drive is the best bet. LPG four wheel drives might be cheap to drive, but be aware that it isn’t always available (especially in remote parts of Australia).
Petrol works too, but again it is not always available and it is less efficient. If you are travelling long distances then a long range tank is well worth having, but still calculate the distances between fuel stops or you could find yourself in trouble!
4wd Hire is popular for many good reasons. It provides a way for families without a car to get out and enjoy a totally different world. Perhaps it will even spur you onto buying one in the future – they open up so much! I’d like to hear below of your hiring experiences, companies that you would recommend and things that you need to remember when hiring a four wheel drive!