With endless open land, dramatic coastlines and otherworldly landscapes to explore, it’s no surprise that Australia has become one of the top 4WD destinations in the world. And while it’s all too easy to overestimate your abilities and underestimate the conditions, what may seem like smaller road trip details are typically what get the majority of people into trouble down the line.
This month, we are exploring some of the best ways to ensure you are fully prepared for a great experience in Australia with the latest and greatest 4WD tips.
Prep Your 4WD Vehicle
Before you start mapping out your routes, the first step in 4WD prep is making sure your vehicle is set up for off-road success. For starters, we recommend your vehicle be outfitted with a long-range fuel tank, off-roading tyres (including at least a single spare tyre), underbody protection, traction control, dual-range transmission, mechanical diff locks, a snorkel and plenty of clearance room.
Additionally, you’ll also want to carry essentials like an air compressor, puncture repair kit, first aid kit, communication gear and recovery gear throughout your journey. In Australia, it’s essential to not only make sure your 4WD is set up for off-road travel but bush travel.
We also recommend becoming familiar with our 4x4 tyre pressure guide to ensure you're maximising your off-road experience.
Lastly, it’s valuable to get your wheel alignment checked to guarantee your 4WD is in top shape before you leave, saving you unnecessary risk and added fuel expenses later on.
Brush Up & Be Realistic
Without proper knowledge of off-road driving, you risk not only causing damage to your 4WD vehicle but yourself and others on the road as well. If you’re not experienced, take a 4WD training course to learn the ins and outs of safe driving, giving you the confidence to explore a variety of tracks and terrains you’ll encounter on your adventure. Learn how to drive on sand and corrugated tracks, and the best 4WD tips to keep you and your vehicle safe throughout the trip.
Perhaps equally as important, it’s always wise to know your limits and accept the risks that inherently come with off-road driving in remote locations such as brushfires, wildlife, track conditions, flooding and other common hazards. Be honest with yourself (and your passengers) about your abilities when it comes to handling a 4WD. Always remember that you may not be the only one on the road when taking your practised skills to the real world.
Pack Extra Supplies
After you and your vehicle are all geared up, it’s time to prep your 4WD with plenty of extra supplies that may come in handy in the case of an unforeseen issue or complication. Be sure to pack plenty of extra food, water and fuel, and download any helpful apps that may come in handy on your trip. This could include maps marking the nearest petrol stations, offline 4WD track and topographic information, and local points of interest.
Go a step further by checking for any necessary land permits that may be an issue when driving near private or native lands. The last thing you want to deal with on your road trip is legal complications that could have easily been avoided with a bit of planning.
Bring a Friend
When it comes to 4WD, four eyes are better than two. Avoid attempting to drive any remote tracks alone in case something goes wrong, and always have a backup plan. Let other travellers, friends or family members know where you are and where you plan to go. Give them a basic timeline of your journey, so there are people who will be alerted to the possibility you are in trouble if something goes wrong.
Above all else, safety should be your priority when 4-wheel driving in Australia. Be sure to alert others of your whereabouts, especially when driving on a one-lane road, by honking your horn, flying a flag for added visibility, and flashing your headlights.
In the case of a blind hill ahead of you, take the time to explore what lies on the other side in the case of an unexpected obstacle, cliff or steep drop-off.
In addition, always be aware of the top safety recommendations when crossing a waterway in your 4WD vehicle. Walk through the water before driving through it to guarantee there are no major holes, drops or items in the way. Mark anything you find with a flag or large stick. Roll down the windows before making your way across, select the right gear and tyre pressure for the crossing, and know where your air intake is and the depth of the water. Enter the water slowly and outfit your vehicle with a ‘water bra’ for added safety precautions.