If you are heading off road this Christmas there are some things you need to consider before doing so. Many experienced 4 wheel drivers will happily share their opinions and experiences, though it is still a great idea to make your own list. Stick to what you need in consideration of what type of driving you will be doing and invest in the essentials first.
We often consider 4WD vehicle accessories that should be fitted to vehicles heading bush, even, day trippers need gear. Portable essentials such as first aid kit, navigation GPS, recovery bag, emergency food and water and communications are mandatory for every trip, even weekenders or extended day trips.
However, don’t get caught up in all the hype of adding expensive upgrades and accessories to your vehicle that may at times hinder your progress rather than add to your experience. Do your research and add what’s right for you, your travel style and locations you wish to explore.
Safety is Key
Frontal protection in Australia’s bush, outback and even around the beaches, protects your vehicle and family from impacts with wildlife and truant farm animals, providing protection for your vehicle from collisions with obstacles of all sorts. Your bar provides critical protection for the vehicle vitals that keep you running and is a bush travel essential, no matter what.
All ECB bullbars and nudge bars are ADR compliant and airbag compatible. Most 4WDs today are relatively unprotected without frontal protection, your air-conditioning condenser, inter-cooler, radiator and perhaps even transmission oil cooler, are now all mounted directly behind your bumper and grill, many of which are flimsy plastic at best. Even a minor collision at low speed, with a tree, kangaroo, wombat or stray cattle, can be enough to pull the vehicle to a grinding halt and end your holiday fun.
Many accidents become fatal when basic items within your vehicle become flying missiles around the inside of your vehicle’s cabin. There have been numerous recorded incidents, that would have been minor accidents had it not been for internal missiles. Once harmless, loose objects in your passenger compartment can become lethal projectiles in an instant. Use the glove compartment and consoles to store personal items, such as mobile phones, electronic devices, sunglasses, games, etc.
A pot of honey that was sitting on the rear shelf of a sedan, when the car had a frontal impact, hurtled forward and killed the driver. On another occasion a child, in a proper child safety seat, suffered serious head injuries when mobile phone impacted the side if his head and another incident saw a computer turned into a deadly projectile flying into the head and neck of the driver, causing horrific fatal injuries.If you have purchased a vehicle with a four or five star safety rating, multiple airbags and seat-belt tensions, a bump in the back of the head by unrestrained objects flying forward, sort of defeats the purpose don’t you think?
A decent cargo barrier will not only stop heavy objects moving forward in an accident, it may even contribute to the vehicle’s body strength in the event of a rollover. At times, even sudden breaking or heavy cornering may cause items to become dislodged.
There is nothing worse than being stranded in a remote location with a dead battery, the unproductive ‘click’ of a starter motor that’s not getting enough oomph from the battery is a sound you don’t want to hear.
With modem 4WD security systems, starting batteries can be lightly drained constantly and any hiccup in the charging system can cause draining effects that eventuate in a flat battery. Even just carrying a spare may do you well, use it as a portable jump starting device, but it is much better to have one wired in, via an electronic dual-battery system.
Battery backup is a must, even for short trips and weekends in the Australian bush, you never know when you may meet another vehicle out there to assist.
TYRE PUMP & PRESSURE GUAGE
The difference in driving on bitumen roads,
to rough gravel or bush tracks, often requires changes pressure. Tyre temperature in each tyre may also vary and cause issues, though newer vehicles now transmit this information to a display inside the vehicle.
Where tyres may be required to be deflated in sand or mud, it’s always a good idea to ensure re-inflating and deflating are measured correctly.
You can’t always winch yourself out, particularly in remote areas, sand anchors and straps may need to be considered, dependent on where you are off to. “One day you’re gonna get caught!” Getting bogged with no way out is definitely going to put a damper on your holiday fun.
It’s always smart to travel with another vehicle or two, but if you aren’t, it’s not the best time to discover that your 4WD has no appropriate recovery points. A short tow or ‘snatch’ from another 4WD is definitely the easiest way to get out of a bog, sand or mud, now that’s not going to happen without those recovery points.The tie down points used to secure a vehicle in transit on a ship or car carrier aren’t strong enough, these are not designed for recovery. If your vehicle doesn’t have bullbar and tow bar, will need strong, recovery hooks bolted to the chassis or major body, front and back.
What’s right for you?
Choosing the right vehicle for your adventure takes patience and research, but it can be exciting and fun. Consider the uses for your vehicle and the budget you have. Research and plan your accessories and make sure you understand the limitations of your vehicle and the accessories you add.
Planning the right vehicle and additional accessories for your holiday adventures can be an adventure in itself. Set yourself up responsibly and enjoy your adventures.
CHOOSE WELL STAY SAFE AND HAVE FUN!