Owning a four wheel drive vehicle is a prescription for exhilaration when you’re doing a bit of off-road adventuring, but it’s just as handy for gaining stability and traction when you’re faced with harsh weather conditions. There are countless uses for a 4WD, including towing heavy cargo, transporting your camping gear and driving across the Outback. Whether you just picked up your first four-wheel drive vehicle or you’re a veteran driver with years behind the wheel of four-wheel drive vehicles, the following tips could be helpful.
1. Not All 4WD Systems Are The Same
If you last drove a four wheel drive vehicle a few years ago and are about to slip behind the wheel for the first time since then, don’t assume your new SUV will handle the same way. There can be significant differences between systems from one car to another, including their capabilities and operating procedures. Be sure to read the owner’s manual before trying any off-road adventures.
2. Choosing Your Gear BEFORE Driving Through A Rough Patch Will Improve Your Success
Keep in mind that you should always use 1st gear when navigating downhill areas. This will give you optimal braking effect while keeping actual use of your brakes to a minimum. This will minimise sliding and help you retain control of your vehicle.
3. Too High A Gear Is Just As Dangerous As Too Low
When your 4WD begins to slide, be sure you turn into the slide while applying throttle, then straighten your vehicle and let the throttle off. Choosing a gear for uphill use will depend on the type of four wheel drive you’re driving. In most cases, starting in second or third gear will work. If you choose a gear that’s too high, you run the risk of stalling, so be sure you regularly check the tachometer, keeping the rpm between 1800 and 2200 when possible.
4. Improve Traction With Low Tyre Pressure
When you’re driving in an area that’s “soft,” such as sand, marshes or mud bogs, letting a bit of air out of your tyres can help by improving traction. It may also help reduce sinking, giving you more time to work your way out. Just remember to re-inflate your tyres when you’re back on solid ground. Under-inflated tyres can cause heat to build up that could lead to blowouts or tyre damage. Your owner’s manual will give you appropriate pressure guidelines.
5. An Easy Way To Dry Your Brakes Quickly
You’ll know doubt encounter plenty of mud holes and deep water when you’re driving your 4WD, but wet or sticky brakes can be hazardous. You can dry them out fairly quickly by driving while lightly applying the brake pedal. Checking the air filter for water is also a good idea.
6. Avoid Oversized Tyres
Increasing the diameter of your tyres will negatively impact the drive gear ratio and your performance. They can also lead to additional wear on the bearings and affect the suspension due to excessive weight on the axles. Avoid installing oversized tyres if you want optimal handling and control.
And finally, talk to an experienced 4WD owner or join one of the many four wheel drive clubs in your area if you’re still unsure about how to safely take advantage of your new four wheel drive. Happy Trails!