Tips to keep in mind when you head off-road
Posted by: Cal on 3/04/2014
If you're new to off-roading and have just purchased your first shiny new 4x4 vehicle complete with a set of 4x4 tyres, it's tempting to dive straight in to one of Australia's best off-road tracks without hesitation.
However, before you zoom into the hinterland and get those brand new tyres coated in mud, it's important to remember that off-roading is a little different to driving on the roads, and there are certain tips to remember.
Here are some factors to consider before you head out and rough it:
Let someone know your plans
The terrain on off-road tracks can be rugged and challenging, so there's always a small chance you could become stuck. If you have invested in a great set of 4x4 tyres, it's far less likely you'll get caught in a tricky situation - but factors such as weather can increase the odds. If you can, take a friend out with you. Otherwise, let at least one other person know your intentions, including how long you'll be away and your route.
Check the weather
While off-road tracks are generally classified for their level of difficulty, even the least imposing of tracks can deteriorate into difficult conditions after heavy rain. Rivers may swell to alarming proportions and mud can become extremely deep, so if you're just starting out (and even if you're experienced, too!) it is best to check the forecast before you head out to your destination.
Load your vehicle evenly
When you're driving off-road, terrain can become uneven, putting your vehicle at an unnatural angle. For this reason, the OzWit blog suggests off roaders pay attention to their load and distribute weight as evenly as possible across the vehicle. Having more weight on one side could put you at risk of tipping over or rolling.
Pack the emergency essentials
Just in case you do run into problems off the beaten track, it's essential that you have the tools to deal with your situation if possible. Ensure you keep a correctly inflated spare tyre and jack in the boot, as well as a torch, GPS device, tow strap, extra clothes, coolant, water, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and shovel in the car.
Check your car and tyres before you leave
If you've just purchased a new vehicle and new set of wheels, it's still important to check their condition before you leave. However, this is not exactly the same as you would for a passenger vehicle. One of the most important factors to consider is tyre pressure. According to Outback Crossing, different terrain, particularly soft terrain such as sand, may require lower tyre pressure than usual to cope with driving through loose material.