All adept 4×4 enthusiasts will agree that there’s an art to driving on sand and the more experience you have, the better you’ll be at it. This is because they’ve all been bogged on sand before; it’s simply an initiation into the world of off-roading! Having other vehicles on the beach makes a considerable difference to how difficult it will be to get out. Using a snatch strap will easily do the trick, but it can be much more challenging to get out on your own, especially if you’re under the pressure of an incoming tide! But, getting bogged in sand is all a learning experience, and there’s much more to off-roading than this. The trick to getting yourself out of any sticky situation in your 4WD is to be adequately prepared.
Regardless of whether you’re an amateur or a skilled 4WDer, we’re all constantly in a state of learning so today we’ll be shedding some knowledge and providing some suggestions on how to drive on sand without getting bogged.
Before you begin
You’ll probably know that before you start driving on sand, you need to reduce the pressure of your tyres. Why, you may be asking? Well, decreasing your tyre pressure disperses the weight of your vehicle over a larger surface area by increasing the length of your tyre’s tread pattern. Some folks may tell you that you only need to deflate your tyres so they’re ‘bagging out’ in the sidewalls, but this is very unreliable and can get you into trouble. The only recommended way of ensuring that your tyres are sufficiently deflated is with a well-calibrated tyre pressure gauge.
Normally, reducing your tyre pressure to between 16 and 18psi is ideal for driving on sand, but it’s important to also consider the weight of your vehicle. If you’re operating a hefty load, you may want to lower the pressure to around 14psi, but if you’re travelling light, you can perhaps get away with 20psi.
While lowering your tyre pressure sufficiently is absolutely imperative when driving on sand, your driving technique also plays an integral role in your success. Naturally, the softness of sand significantly reduces the power of your engine, so maintaining momentum is key when driving on sand. Of course, this will be much easier in automatic vehicles, but much trickier when you’re operating a manual. If you own a manual 4WD, it’s crucial that you keep the revs slightly higher when driving on sand, so if you hit a soft patch, you can easily give your vehicle more power to get through it. In terms of gear selection, the type of sand you’ll be driving on plays an integral role, so there’s no specific rules, but it’s always advisable to keep your 4WD in low range just in case.
What to do if you get bogged?
If you get bogged and there’s no assistance nearby, it is necessary that you don’t make matters worse by trying to force your way out and getting bogged deeper. I always take beadlocks with me, which is a gadget that lock the tyre’s bead onto the rim of the wheel. Most individuals get bogged in soft grainy sand, so the first thing you need to do is lower your tyre pressure until you get traction. Normally, you can decrease your tyre pressure to around 8psi without beadlocks, and to around 5psi with them. Practice makes perfect is particularly relevant to getting bogged in sand, so the more you get bogged, the better you’ll be at getting out!
Keep in mind that you need to be very cautious when cornering after reducing your tyre pressure to this level as your vehicle’s handling will be dramatically altered. You don’t want your vehicle to tip or your tyres to fly off their rims, so care must always be taken. Also, bear in mind that when the ground gets hard again, don’t forget to inflate your tyres. Many accidents have been caused from people forgetting to inflate their tyres after driving in sand.
- Be cautious when turning
- Be gentle on the brakes
- Always drive above the high-tide mark so your vehicle doesn’t get swallowed if you get bogged
- Always use indicators if there are other vehicles on the beach
- Always bring a tyre gauge and never attempt to guess tyre pressure
- Always bring a snatch strap and long-handled shovel
- Always bring an air-compressor to inflate tyres when you hit the bitumen
- Look at buying a UHF radio so you can call for help
- Look into buying beadlocks for when there’s no assistance around
There’s no question that driving along the beach is an experience that all 4×4 enthusiasts should relish, but caution must always be taken to ensure that you and everyone else stays safe. If you’re planning to drive on sand, always be adequately prepared and use lots of common sense. If you need any 4WD products or accessories to make your next journey more fulfilling, TJM Australia have you covered with an enormous range of 4WD and camping accessories. For more details, phone their staff on 07 3865 9999.