As summer approaches, the pull of a beachside getaway is an enticing and almost irresistible idea. Add in the prospect of unrelenting sand dune-centric fun and you've got the perfect recipe for a top weekend. Sand driving is a brilliant and unintimidating way to get some serious 4x4 driving in and can be an awesome way for a beginner to cut their teeth on offroading while still being a playground for the more experienced 4x4 aficionado.
Being an island, we're pretty spoilt for choice in Australia when it comes to finding sandy beaches to hoon around on. On top of that, roughly 40% of the Australian continent's interior is covered in sand dunes. No matter which direction you go, eventually you'll find sand. So learning the art of sand driving, and what to bring along for the trip is a worthwhile endeavour. Here, we'll cover all of the above so you're ready to hit the dunes with confidence.
Tip 1: Tyre Pressures
This is tip number one and rightfully so, as getting the correct tyre pressures nailed down for your ride is going to save a lot of headaches when out on the sand. There are plenty of takes out there on the correct pressures, but we're saying start with 16psi and go down as needed. Trial and error is the name of the game here.
Now, a bit of science behind why this is crucial to your sandy success. When it comes to sand driving – specifically the intention of sand driving and not sand bogging – the main equation you need to think about is the weight of your car per square centimetre of contact with the sand. As you lower your tyre pressures, there is more tyre touching the ground. And so the all-important contact patch of tyres to sand gets larger, thus spreading the weight of the car out more. This makes it harder to sink into the sand at all times. Whether you're moving or sitting still, those tyres are constantly at work to make sure you don't get royally stuck. Which conveniently brings us to our next tip!
Tip 2: Getting stuck (and then unstuck)
Getting stuck while 4x4 driving is part of the game. Take your vehicle to wild places, see how far it gets, get stuck, get out, and repeat. More or less. When it comes to 4x4 sand driving tips the one you should definitely know beforehand is that you'll probably get stuck at some point on the sand. So in order to be prepared make absolutely certain that you have awinch kit. We recommend bringing along recovery boards as well!
Tip 3: Bring. Enough. Fuel.
Although it might seem a bit of a captain-obvious suggestion, but bringing enough fuel (more than enough ideally) is paramount. The search for sand dune driving may very well take you a fair way off the beaten track, especially if you're going inland and planning on camping along as you go. Sand driving is hard work for your car's engine, it relies heavily on horsepower in order to get you up and over dunes as well as through deep sandy ruts. The tyres spend a lot of time spinning and as such you'll be using up a decent amount more fuel than you would be compared to other forms of 4x4 off-roading. You can offset this higher fuel consumption by either; carrying around external fuel tanks like jerrycans or choosing to add a more permanent solution andupgrading your fuel tank.
Tip 4: Bring an air compressor
When it comes to driving on sand, there's good news and there's bad news. The good news is that you will have to be very unlucky in order to get a puncture while driving on dunes. The relative lack of sharp rocks and shattered tree branches plus the very low tyre pressures means that your rubber will probably finish the day in the same condition it started. But I did also say there was bad news. And the bad news is that dropping your tyres too low, and then being too aggressive with your steering inputs can lead to having the bead of the tyre slip off the rim. Very not ideal. Very time-consuming to fix. All-round not recommended. But by bringing an air compressor you can ensure that you are able to reinflate the tyres if this happens and turn a major annoyance into something in the realm of minor annoyance.
Driving on sand has the potential to be a fantastic experience and if you follow these 4x4 sand driving tips, you should get through it with smiles all around.
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