6 Off-Road Driving Tips

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For some of us, 4WDing is a hobby that we like to enjoy on the weekends but for others, work may require them to be 4WDing for 8 hours a day! It doesn’t really matter whether you’re new to 4WDing or you’ve had decades of experience, we always seem to pick up new advice and tips all the time. The most important aspect to 4WDing is ensuring our safety and the safety of those around us, so to guide you in the right direction, today we’ll be offering you our top 6 tips to 4×4 off-roading so you and your vehicle arrive home in one piece!

Choose the appropriate gear

First things first, always remember to shift into 4WD before your tyres even hit the dirt, mud, or sand. You’d be amazed at how many folks simply forget to shift to 4WD and get stuck after their wheels start spinning!

On demanding tracks, it’s normally best to use low range 4WD where your vehicle can drive at slower speeds with increased torque being sent to your wheels which assists you in overcoming obstacles with more control. Some outstanding advice passed down to me was ‘drive as slowly as possible and as fast as necessary’ which can be applied to any off-road circumstance. You’ll certainly prefer to be in first gear when driving over rocks, but more momentum and speed is needed when driving through sand and mud to keep your wheels rotating.

Find traction

It’s well-known that decreasing your tyre pressure enhances traction, but most of the time this alone won’t suffice. If you sense your tyres are beginning to slip or spin, don’t give into that habitual temptation and apply more gas because this typically only makes your tyres lose traction even quicker! Alternatively, stop your 4×4 and slowly move your steering wheel backwards and forwards in a sawing motion which helps the biting edges of your tyres find new spots of dirt or grip to the clean side of a rock. You’ll perhaps need to practice this technique quite a bit but once you’ve got it, you’ll find it to be invaluable! Also, remember to keep your thumbs on the outside of the steering wheel to avoid any injuries when driving over obstacles.

Always bring recovery gear!

Getting bogged is all part of the fun and you must to be prepared for any predicament when off-roading. Even though at times you can get away with floor mats under the tyres and some digging, most of the time you’ll need effective recovery equipment to get unstuck and arrive home before sunset! Depending on whether you’re 4WDing alone or with some friends, an electric winch or snatch strap is the best way to effectively recover after getting bogged.

Read the terrain

Even though it takes some practice, foreseeing what lies ahead by reading the terrain correctly is what 4WDing is all about. Essentially, you should never find an unpleasant surprise when driving through a coarse segment of a trail because if you can’t anticipate it, you should get out of your 4WD and have a look. When driving, lift your gaze so you can see far enough in front of you to identify any changes in the trail. Similar to driving a steep hill, you should pick your line prior to driving the ascent including what rocks you want your tyres on and what rocks to avoid!

Inspect the depth of water crossings

You never know when you’re going to run into a creek or river and it’s essential that you always examine the depth of the water before attempting to cross it. If you don’t know your 4WDs wading depth (how far your vehicle can submerge without harm), then check out your owner’s manual. Investigating the depth is not only an indispensable safety precaution, but it also gives your 4×4 time to cool down before plunging through cold water. A seemingly shallow creek could be much deeper than you pictured, and you never know where large obstacles are hidden which can easily get you bogged.

Know your angles

Even though ground clearance is crucial, it’s not the only spec that will assist you in clearing a large rock or obstacle. To get over a high obstacle, you need to know your approach and departure angles which is measured from the ground to the lowest point of your 4WD (typically under your front and rear bumper). The higher the angle, the more clearance you’ll have. Likewise, you should also find out your break-over angle which gives you an idea of how big an obstacle can be that your vehicle can pass without getting high-centred. Although you’ll almost never measure any obstacles, these angles provide you with a firm mental picture of which obstacles your vehicle can tackle.

In a nutshell, knowing your vehicle’s limits and reading the terrain is key to your 4WDing ability so it’s necessary to always stay within your comfort zone when off-roading. Having an accomplished driver as a co-pilot is the best way to strengthen your skills as they’ll have the ability to hand down knowledge in a comfortable and safe environment.

If you need any additional information about off-road driving techniques, or you’re wanting to buy some 4WD products and accessories, talk to the friendly team at TJM Australia by phoning them on 07 3865 9999.

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4×4 Buyers Guide – 4WD Lighting

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4WD lighting is a crucial safety accessory for some 4WD owners and they assist millions of people around the world every day. Whether you’re traveling for long distances or driving through animal-strike prone areas at night, 4WD lighting helps drivers maintain their concentration and see further down the road to avoid any unexpected incidents. It’s well-known that poor visibility reduces awareness and exhausts drivers by putting more strain on their eyes, so having a well lit road is the best way to stay safe at night on country roads.

Being able to distinctly see everything in your path makes a huge difference, and they can also be used when changing a flat tyre or even when camping. With so many different types of 4WD lighting available, it can be difficult to decide how to best equip your 4×4 for your individual needs. To give you some assistance, today’s article will focus on the factors you should consider when purchasing 4WD lighting to ensure you make the best decision.

Types of bulbs

There are three basic types of bulbs you can obtain and each differ fairly considerably:

  • High-Intensity Discharge (HID) – Offers the best illuminating capacity and can generally shine twice as far as LED lights. They are strongly advised for drivers who travel at high speeds in the evening but are known to have dirty lenses which can create glare. Their projected lifespan is approximately 2,000 hours.
  • LED – The latest bulb on the market which is becoming quite popular given they only use 10% of the energy of halogen bulbs. LED bulbs are long lasting with an expected lifespan of around 50,000 hours, and are durable, compact, and available in different colours and shapes. Keep in mind that they are more expensive than Halogen and HID bulbs.
  • Halogen – The most common kind of bulb used on 4WDs because they’re easy to find and replacements are cheap, however they don’t emanate as much light as HIG or LED. Plus, they’re also the least energy efficient and their anticipated lifespan is only 1,000 hours.

Light pattern

There are four different types of light patterns available each with unique strengths:

  • Driving lights – Although they’re not as bright as spotlights, driving lights are designed to enhance your headlights by lighting an area wider and further in front of your 4WD. Excellent for highway and off-road driving at night for those wanting increased visibility.
  • Spotlights – While these types of lights travel a long distance in front of your 4WD, they have a more focused beam of light. Spotlights brightly illuminate a small area with a pencil beam to produce better visibility to objects that are far off in the distance.
  • Fog lights – Designed to radiate light onto the pathway in front of your 4WD without being affected by fog, dust, or rain particles. Normally mounted below your headlights and are used along with your primary lights for better visibility.
  • Flood lights – Even though they don’t emanate very far in front of your vehicle, the beam of flood lights can vary anywhere between 40 and 120 degrees and brighten a very wide area within a short distance.

Most 4WD owners who want to have driving lights for safety purposes will have a mixture of spotlights and flood lights to maximise their exposure whilst driving.

Construction

There’s several factors which you should consider when acquiring lighting for your 4WD. First and foremost, you don’t want very heavy lights which puts a lot of stress on the bolts and fixtures holding it in place, particularly when driving on corrugated roads. While lighter is normally better, you should never sacrifice strength for weight as the lights need to be able to tolerate constant movement. The lights bolts, pins, and brackets also need to be strong and well-constructed.

On top of that, any 4WD lighting you purchase should be waterproof not only to keep rain out when cruising at 90kph, but also to avoid any red outback dust from obstructing the clarity of your lens. Waterproofing is also vital if you want to cross any rivers and have your lights immersed. Furthermore, modern lenses are normally manufactured from specialised glass or lexan, so if you find any lightweight plastic lenses then you can be rest assured that they are substandard.

Installation

Even though most 4WD lighting are fairly easy to install for those acquainted with handywork, installing lights on some parts of your vehicle are more complicated than others. TJM Australia have a variety of different 4WD lighting available which their experienced staff can install in their fully equipped workshop. To find out more about 4WD lighting or installation, simply phone their staff on 07 3865 9999.