Like any activity, the more four wheel driving you do the more confident and experienced you become. However, there are many people who have never done any four wheel driving before and go out with no knowledge at all. You might think that it can’t be too difficult, but when you are put in a difficult situation (which happens more often than you might think) having a basic knowledge of 4wd Training is very useful.
Being able to jump into a four wheel drive and head in any direction you want is something Australians love to do. Whether it’s going down to the local beach for a bit of a fish, driving through big mud runs or taking your four wheel drive on a 4 week journey travelling through remote parts of the country, there is always something for everyone. However, it’s important that you know a bit about your four wheel drive, and how to use it. The basics of 4wd training are an absolute must before you even consider taking your car off road.
I often see individuals (and families too) put at risk because of a lack of knowledge when it comes to four wheel drives. Whether it’s not deflating their tyres on slippery hill climbs or recovering incorrectly, there are many ways in which your day out can turn into a nightmare. No doubt you have heard stories of those that have had to walk for many kilometres because they got stuck; you want to avoid this at all times. 4wd training courses are offered by many different businesses throughout Australia, and for a once off fee they are well worth doing.
What do you learn on a 4wd Training course?
There are plenty of different courses run in every state of Australia, and the courses vary depending on what you want to learn. Some are designed purely for recreational users whilst others are specifically tailored to commercial needs (such as mine sites etc). However, below are some of the more commonly covered 4wd Training subjects:
Tyre pressures are perhaps the most important part of four wheel driving. When you go off road, tyres need to be let down to decrease the risk of a puncture and increase the traction available. If you are driving through rocky terrain with your tyres at full pressure you risk getting a puncture as well as limit the amount of grip your tyres have on the rocks. The biggest reason for bogged vehicles on a beach is because the tyres are not at the right pressures.
Safe Recovery Methods
There have been hundreds of people killed or seriously injured from trying to pull a stuck four wheel drive out the wrong way. Things like learning that tow balls are not to be recovered off, as well as what rated recovery points are and how to coordinate a recovery safely are potentially the most valuable knowledge a four wheel driver can have.
Driving uphill and downhill are probably the easiest times for something to go wrong. By learning how to control your vehicle, the right gears to choose and where to drive, you can ensure that your four wheel drive travels are safe and enjoyable.
Snatch Straps are a great piece of recovery equipment, however a lot of people use them incorrectly and resort to them as the only way to recover a four wheel drive. A snatch strap works by building up kinetic energy and releasing it as the strap stretches, pulling the stuck four wheel drive out smoothly. However, there is plenty of room for something to go wrong and it is likely to hurt someone if you aren’t doing it correctly.
Winches are a very important self recovery device, and are often just as dangerous as a snatch strap that is used incorrectly. 4wd training will teach you how to rig them up correctly, what tree trunk protectors are and how you can use them. They also teach double line pulling and the list goes on.
Vehicle Inspection and Pre inspections
There is nothing worse than leaving for a big holiday only to find a few hours into the drive something goes wrong with the electrics or mechanics of your vehicle. With some basic inspections, you can often pick up problems well before they cause any big issues!
Stall recovery techniques
If you are driving up a hill and you suddenly stall the vehicle, how do you start the car without rolling backwards? If you start it out of gear and try to take off after putting it in gear often you do it suddenly, which is likely to cause a loss of traction. Obviously, in an automatic this is less of an issue! By attending 4wd Training you learn the easiest ways to do a safe stall recovery.
Lines to pick
The difference between an experienced four wheel driver and one who has only just begun driving is often in the path that they choose. When you get to a hill climb with a few options, it pays to consider which is going to be the safest and easiest path. By understanding how your four wheel drive functions and what to look for, you can pick the best line too.
Sand and beach driving
Perhaps the easiest of four wheel riving, sand driving is a lot of fun and very popular. Being able to drive on beaches and through sand dunes is imperative. Knowing the tyre pressures required, where to drive on a beach, how to drive through sand dunes and what to look for might just save your four wheel drive from a rising tide one day!
Corrugated Gravel Driving
Corrugated Gravel is hard on your four wheel drive and can easily cause accidents if you aren’t an experienced driver. 4wd training will teach you what to look for, speeds to travel and distances to sit behind other vehicles.
A lot of people ‘drown’ their four wheel drives every year because they don’t take the relevant precautions when crossing water. A quality 4wd Training course will teach you everything to look for and ensure that you don’t make the costly mistake of watching your car wash away.
Some 4wd training even goes into how to tow trailers. Whether it is just a boat on bitumen or taking an off road Camper Trailer through the desert, it’s handy to understand the differences in how your vehicle handles.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family where four wheel driving was regularly done, so a lot of my knowledge was passed down. Combine this with the wealth of information online and I know enough to get myself out of trouble. I am not an expert, and doing a 4wd Training course won’t make you one either but it certainly goes a long way.
If you have any recommended 4wd Training courses, please let me know below so people can make use of them!
Good article, thanks. I’d always advise a beginner, and I was one not so long ago, to do a course or two. A lot of folk spend up big on mods and accessories to help get out of trouble but spending a bit to avoid it in the first place makes more sense.
Yep, investing in your own knowledge rather than your vehicle is a good step. I’ve never done any 4WD courses, but have been very fortunate to learn from plenty of experienced people!
I’ve heard people recommend not to buy a fully decked out 4WD as your first; to start out with something basic and learn the ropes, before you have all the bells and whistles!