Driving to the Australian bush and exploring the landscape off road is one of the most fun driving experiences imaginable. It is also a good way to test your 4WD and see what it has under the hood, but it is important to be prepared and cautious to avoid damages on the 4WD or personal injuries. Here are some tips and tricks by the team at Phil Gilbert Toyota to help you enjoy your next off-roading adventure safely.
- Get to know your 4WD inside and out by reading the owner manual. You will then have a better understanding of the various functions available and how to take advantage of them.
- Inspect the 4WD yourself or with a mechanic to make sure it is properly serviced. You may require an oil change, or to check your fluids, brake pads and other consumables.
- Research the area and environment beforehand to make sure the weather is appropriate and that you have maps of the road you are planning to travel to avoid getting lost or stuck in a creek bed during a thunderstorm.
- Plan out a recovery procedure and make sure that everyone involved practices safe recovery techniques.
Inside the 4WD
- Never drive alone. Have a copilot ready to assist you and take over if an injury occurs or the 4WD needs repairs. Make sure everyone in the vehicle has the experience and skill to safely recover.
- Lower the tire pressures to avoid punctures from sharp rocks, especially if the conditions are soft.
- To help you know if the 4WD can handle certain obstacles and not others, make sure you understand your 4WD’s height, width, and ground clearance.
- Sit in a relaxed upright position. It will keep you comfortable and put less strain on your back. Also make sure to not place your thumbs in the centre section as they may get pulled violently on unstable conditions.
- Stay in the ruts to keep the 4WD from losing traction and to minimise impact. It is important to maintain your momentum, especially in the muddy areas.
- Avoid crossing a water stream if the depth is more than half of your wheel height. Walk across the water yourself to check on underwater obstacles and the water level.
- Protect your brakes if they are wet after a water crossing or from overheating if you are applying your brakes too much while going downhill.