You've got your 4WD, and you've had a couple of trial runs on some dirt tracks. Ready for a 4WD adventure? Not quite yet. President of 4WD Australia Brain Hevey said there are some common mistakes to avoid:
- Having no recovery gear, insufficient recovery gear or incorrect recovery gear. Heading out for the day and thinking that you probably won't need recovery gear is a way to guarantee that you will. Basics include a winch to anchor to a solid tree, tree protector straps, a couple of D shackles and maybe a snatch block (pulley) so you can re-direct your winch cable or double up the cable to get some mechanical advantage. It’s no good taking a snatch strap without another vehicle to ’snatch’ you out.
- Having no UHF CB radio. A radio is a must-have to contact others, call for help, find others, control a vehicle recovery or even offer help if called upon.
- Having wrong or worn tyres. Tyres give you grip in rough terrain and on the road. They can be partly deflated to give increased grip off road and, if correct for the terrain, can be worked back and forth to get traction.
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- Hoping the vehicle can get you out of trouble. The vehicle and all its features can only do what you make it do and therefore can only get you into or out of trouble if you can safely drive it. Don't assume it’ll go anywhere.
- Not carrying adequate food, water and warm clothing. It is rare but not uncommon for 4WDs, like any vehicle, to break down. If you do need to spend a night in the bush, having a blanket or warm clothes, a bit of tucker and enough water means you can have a half-reasonable night sitting in a steel box in freezing cold conditions. The inside of vehicles can be as cold as the outside as the night progresses. In NSW and Victorian alps, Tasmania, even in remote deserts, overnight temperatures can reach freezing and if your engine won’t start, you’ll freeze too! Always carry food and water - just in case.
- Not dressing correctly for the conditions. Riggers gloves, a beanie, wet weather gear, even gaiters and safety glasses can all be necessary sometimes. Throw them in a bag and have them handy.
- Not knowing your vehicle is a rookie mistake. Get to know what all the extra knobs, dials and levers do. Free-wheeling hubs, high and low range, diff locks, recovery points, ABS, descent control, hill ascent assist and a raft of other features all need to be understood and used as needed. Like my earlier comment, you should not and cannot expect the vehicle to drive you out of trouble - it’s up to you to keep the vehicle out of trouble.