Nothing can compare to exploring the great outdoors in your own four wheel drive (4WD) vehicle. Every weekend, thousands of people across the country get into their 4WD’s and enjoy the freedom of the path less travelled.
While it is great fun, there is also a serious side to 4WD adventures. There are many pitfalls for the inexperienced off roader and in the vast Australian outback a problem at the wrong moment is not just inconvenient – it could be disastrous!
Below are a few very basic things that you need to do, before you consider setting off on your own adventure. To neglect the correct preparations may put your life at risk.
Recovery equipment should be central to any off road drivers’ equipment. There are a number of items that fall under this category and you may need all of them, or just some, depending on where you intend to go.
The first piece of gear to have is a jack, so you can lift up your reg checker vehicle. This can be to change a tire, or to help you move it out of a sticky situation. Most vehicles come pre-equipped with a jack, but you may wish to upgrade. It is crucial that you check that your jack is functional before you leave.
You should also always have a recovery strap or ‘snatch’ strap. These are highly versatile auto straps which you can use to pull yourself, or someone else, out of trouble if they become stuck. Small tears can compromise the integrity of these straps, so always check for any visible damage before you depart.
This section isn’t necessarily vehicle related, but just as important. Because you will be driving in remote areas, you must have the ability to look after yourself and your passengers in the event of an accident. What can be a very minor medical problem can quickly become serious when you are hours away from professional care.
Unfortunately, even vehicles designed for rough conditions break down on occasion. Because you will be in remote areas, you need to be able to fix basic things for yourself. This means that you should know what parts commonly break on off road vehicles and have those items on hand when for when you need them. It’s no good if you are out in the bush and your spare parts are back in your garage!
Full Mechanical Service
It may sound obvious, but many people neglect even this basic precaution. If you are planning a trip, be it big or small, you need to be confident that your vehicle is up to the task. Dirt roads and tracks are hard on machinery and your 4WD needs to be in top condition to handle it.
If you don’t have your off road vehicle checked for mechanical faults before departing, you risk having a serious problem in the middle of nowhere when you need it the least!
If you are just a beginner, or even if you are a pro going to an unfamiliar area, it can be worth getting some expert knowledge. In your local area there is sure to be an off road equipment shop. The staff at these stores are very knowledgeable and always happy to help.