Here are some of our top tips for beginners on any terrain so you won't be stranded on your next driving adventure.
10 top tips for four-wheel-drive beginners:
It's essential to research your car when it's new, whether you've purchased or hired a 4WD, so you know the vehicles' capabilities and limitations. Read your vehicle owner's manual (in the glove box) before you take your car off-road. Most 4WD's will have the ability to switch from 2WD, high-range 4WD and low-range 4WD modes. The low range will be used for low speed and low grip conditions you'll commonly encounter if you drive off-road. Check your clearance at the lowest points and check the approach and departure angles and wading depth, so you know how much clearance you'll have if you're crossing over low water.
Always check which parks and roads are 4WD friendly and where vehicles are permitted if you're venturing into bushland. Most will have clearly marked access routes and signage, but you can also check with your local tourist centre and camping grounds nearby. Be aware of the ecosystems of the environment you're driving in and always take your rubbish with you. Check the weather before you attempt any long trip to be prepared for any heavy rain that can drastically change the surface conditions.
Even the most skilled 4WD'ers will get bogged at some point off-road so being prepared is essential. Shovels, snatch-straps and shackles, a tyre deflator and a compressor are all indispensable recovery gear. It's also worth taking a spare pair of shoes to walk through water to test its depth before diving headfirst into the unknown.
If you are driving off-road, or on sandy and uneven roads, the slower you go, the easier it is and less likely you'll get into trouble. In a 4WD lots of things can go wrong if you're going too fast on unfamiliar terrains. Even if you think you're at a good speed, take it down 10 km/h.
In the event that you do get bogged, or come into some trouble off-road, the lighter the vehicle is of a heavy load, the less likely you are to be bogged and the easier it will be to get out. Take out any large or heavy objects from the boot before you go. If you are bogged, unload all your passengers before you attempt to drive out.
Always lower your tyre pressure before entering any off-road situation, and this is even more essential if you're entering conditions that have soft ground or muddy areas.
Never do any 4WDing alone. You should always have a spotter to help in rugged terrain. Often a spotter will see and prevent damage before you will, and they can help you if you do get stuck. Always keep the momentum going if you're on unstable terrain. Apply small amounts of throttle but not too much or you could dig yourself further in.
If you come across roads with high water over them, never attempt to cross without checking it out first. Always check the depth by walking through the crossing before you try to drive through so you can check for rocks and logs and exactly how high the water level is.
The maximum depth you should be crossing is approximately 20 inches or the depth of half your wheel height. If roads are closed due to flooding, don't attempt them.
If you venture off-road, follow road rules as you would on normal sealed roads and be considerate to other people on the tracks. Avoid tail-gaiting, parking too close to others and give way to other drivers as you would normally do.
Driving in bushland and our rugged off-roads in Australia is a privilege, so do the right thing and keep the environment as clean as when you found it. If a plastic bag escapes your car, it's your responsibility to collect it and collect any other rubbish you might find in your way. Don't leave foods scraps that could attract feral dogs and foxes who could then pray on native animals. Don't drive on protected nature reserves or protected vegetation area and leave the smallest footprint you can.Driving off-road is a fantastic way to enjoy Australia, and it's a privilege that future generations should be able to enjoy as well, so enjoy your 4WDing experience but always be mindful of the environment you're in.
At 1300Meteor we have a range of recreational 4WDs for hire.Contact us today for our competitive rates so that you can be prepared for your next driving adventure.
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