4WD Driving Conditions

When participating in 4WD you will be faced with a number of driving conditions. Each of these conditions requires that you handle the vehicle differently to ensure your safety. These conditions include, but are by no means limited to creeks, sand, bull dust and corrugated roads.

4x4 in creekThe terrain four wheel drivers face when on 4WD holidays is unique and other would otherwise not have been encountered - to ensure you get the most out of the holiday you should consider the various 4WD spare parts required when facing such harsh driving conditions.

Another crucial aspect of 4 wheel driving is vehicle recovery ie. knowing how to get yourself out of a bad situation. The driving conditions you will face when four wheel driving are far more likely to cause your vehicle to become bogged down thus you should have appropriate gear on board.

FOUR WHEEL DRIVING ACROSS CREEK CROSSINGS

Never enter a crossing that contains water of any kind without first investigating how deep it is. People often walk the crossing prior to entering it in the vehicle. If you choose to do this look for dips and holes. It is also useful to note the type of creek bed it has, for example sand, rock etc.

4 Wheel DrivingHowever, when four wheel driving in Northern Australia you should be aware that the creeks may be the home to crocodiles. In areas such as Kimberley, Far North QLD and Top End it is recommended that you do not walk the creek crossings and/or rivers.

When driving across creeks always turn off central locking and wind down the windows. This protects you just in case the car stalls or the electric mechanisms stop working - otherwise you could get stuck inside.

There are preparations that should be carried out on your vehicle before driving through water, particularly if the water level is axle deep or above tyre height. These include: Having your 'diff breathers' extended, this can be done by any 4WD servicing mechanic Using a 'radiator blind' which protects your radiator and engine from being drowned by the water

If you stall whilst driving through water and have trouble starting the engine again, do NOT keep trying. You will have to utilize your vehicle recovery tools and winch the 4WD out. You should also check that water hasn't gone into the air intake, this would fill the cylinders of your 4WD.

Don't change gears when you are driving your 4WD through water, start in a low gear. When exiting the water crossing be careful as the ground is often steep and slick. After completely exiting the crossing, when you are on higher ground stop and let the water drain from the car - being on a slope will assist this process.

HOW TO DRIVE ON SAND

* Be sure to inflate the tyres as soon as plausible

* Never drive over 60km/hour when your tyres are deflated

* Try to avoid driving on the bitumen with deflated tyres

* When four wheel driving carry a good quality air compressor with you at all times. Don't settle for a cheap option as these are generally not powerful enough to inflate all 4 tyres

* You should deflate your tyres when driving in sand, you can deflate them to 10psi without problems in soft sand - if you have to

* There are certain steps to take if you do get stuck in sand:

* Check the vehicle is in 4WD

* Ensure your hubs are locked

* Ensure your 'diff' is clear

* If the vehicle has become deep in the sand, you should try dig a path in the sand for each tyre4x4 Stuck in Sand

* When in a stationary position, reverse over your tracks, however, if this doesn't work in one go, deflate your tyres a little bit more

* When trying to free the vehicle, try using H2 gear and give the 4WD some revs - this should get you out of it and help you onto harder sand

When 4WDing on sand, you should never park the vehicle in the wet sand. Instead you should stop the 4WD with the front of the vehicle faced towards the sea. If you can feel the 4WD slipping in a sideways direction when driving down the beach, turn the wheels slightly towards the sea. When doing a U-turn on the beach in your 4WD, drive towards the sea so that the tyres that are turning are in the harder sand.

BULL DUST

Bull dust is both a common and dangerous sight for four wheel drivers in Outback Australia. It occurs when the driving track becomes wet and after drying breaks into a very fine dust. Bull Dust often deceives drivers into think they are driving over a hard patch but in actual fact it is just dust covering a hole.

Do not drive fast through bull dust and always try to avoid it, if at all possible. A filter is also required in notoriously dusty areas as it can damage your engine - check this filter at regular intervals.

CORRUGATED ROADS

Corrugated Roads are not the most pleasant to drive on, for the passengers. or the 4WD itself. Australian Outback roads are often densely corrugated. The following are tips on how to make the journey more comfortable for everyone and everything involved:

* Reduce your 4WD's tyre pressure, it should be 4-6psi lower than what you would have if you were driving on bitumen

* The higher the tyre pressure the more likely it is to 'pop'

* You may also consider adding extra length to your suspension, as the pressure of all the equipment you are carrying will be directed over the rear suspension - not allowing for much movement when added to the strain of corrugated roads. Extra suspension will improve the way you can handle the 4WD

* You should try and keep your speed constant when driving on corrugated roads. If the conditions allow it, and you feel confident that you can control the 4WD a speed of 85km/hr is ideal. Too fast is dangerous and too slow will shake everything and everyone in the vehicle too much

For More 4 x 4 photos view the Australian Explorer Four Wheel Drive Photo Gallery.


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