Anyone can buy a 4WD and take it off road. Unfortunately, this means a lot of people are heading off road without the faintest idea of how to use their 4WD, and what to do when things go wrong. I’ve witnessed this on countless occasions, where vehicles and people have been put at risk due to a lack of knowledge.
If you aren’t sure when to engage 4WD, this post will point you in the right direction. From 4WD high, to low range, to differential lockers there’s a fair bit to pick up!
There are plenty of ways you can neglect your 4WD. Ignoring the recommended service schedule, bouncing your way up a hill with wheels going everywhere, not adjusting your Tyre pressures for the terrain or simply giving the engine a hard time. How you treat your 4WD is entirely up to you; it’s yours, and you are the one who has to cough up the money to have it repaired.
When you take a 4WD off the bitumen, the single most important factor is your tyre pressure. I’ve lost count of the number of people who we’ve come across that are bogged to the chassis rails with tyre pressures that are not correct for the terrain they are driving on.
If you have a 4WD and haven’t yet done any beach driving, then you should really give it a go. It’s not difficult to learn, and provides a lot of fun for the whole family. It also opens up your options for fishing, snorkelling, camping and taking holidays. There are a number of things that you need to know before venturing onto a beach however, which I will try to cover below.
How many times have you had someone say to you their 4WD is only getting 500km out of a tank of fuel? What does that mean to you? How big is the fuel tank, and how far are they running it down? What size engine, tyres, and driving habits do they have?
Traction control comes standard on many 4WD’s today. The thing is though, its not always helpful and there are times when you should be turning it off. Do you know when? Find out here.
If you want to know how to quickly damage a 4WD, don’t let the tyres down. This post is a bit of tongue in cheek, after we bumped into some guys on the Gibb River Road with vehicles that were trashed from not letting their tyres down properly.
You make the trek out to the local 4WD tracks, after a heap of rain, grinning from ear to ear as you see the puddles start to get bigger and bigger. The next minute, you arrive at the mother of all mud runs. What now? Do you get out, check the mud hole, let your tyres down, lock the hubs and plough through it in 2nd low? Or do you find another way around?
4WD tyre pressures are probably the most critical factor you control when you get off the bitumen road. Whether its gravel roads that are full of corrugations, big mud holes or a soft beach you are travelling on, having your tyres at the right pressure for the terrain you are driving on is crucial. In a previous post, we explored 6 reasons tyre pressures are critical for 4WDing.
If your 4WD gets bogged on sand, there’s a good chance you are running your tyres with too much air in them. Every vehicle and beach is different, but often people are far too conservative when it comes to deflating their tyres enough for beach driving.
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!