WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I WAS NEW TO 4WDING
In lieu of so many new folks signing up for this off-road, camping and adventure lifestyle we all love, I thought I’d offer up a few things that I would have liked to know when I started out myself.
- Always have a few different shackles and a snatch strap or two handy when off-road. If driving on mud or sand, don’t forget the shovel either. If you do get bogged, don’t expect anyone who tries to help to use their own recovery gear and don’t forget to say thanks – everyone gets stuck, no need to be a jerk about it.
- Air down. Too much air in the tyres is probably the number one cause of getting bogged. For a family-sized wagon, start at 18psi and don’t be afraid to go lower. A compressor and tyre gauge should be among the first accessories you purchase (they won’t be the last; you’re hooked now).
- We all have a mate who likes getting on the cans and acting like a peanut. This condition only gets worse the further you remove him from civilisation. Leave him at home while you’re getting used to driving your vehicle in unfamiliar terrain.
- Be a sponge. Learn as much as you can from people with more experience than you. If this means taking a driver training course then it’ll be the best couple of hundred bucks you’ll spend on your 4X4. Keep in mind that your 4WD is more capable than you are, and probably will be for the next few years.
- There’ll always be something you’ll forget and there’ll always be stuff you don’t need. Don’t sweat it; learn to refine your camping and 4WDing gear down to the minimum without putting yourself at risk. Your bone china cup and saucer set won’t miss you, I promise.
- Mud sucks. Twenty seconds of fun for a lifetime of annoyance is a bad investment. If you can, avoid it. Oh, and nobody thinks you’re cool throwing rooster tails twenty feet into the air. Trust me.
- Full throttle assaults on an obstacle are for drivers in an off-road competition or for dickheads. It’s extremely rare (there’s probably about three real world scenarios) that you’ll actually need to stand on the go pedal. If you can’t crawl it, assess your situation and gradually up the amount of skinny pedal needed. You’ll also save thousands on breakages, unburnt fuel and self-respect.
- Learn how to change the following: CV joint, universal joint, headlight globes, fluids and filters. Learn how to clear a fault code on your vehicle and also how to plug a tyre. They’re all way easier than you think; and invaluable skills to have. On that note, first aid kits (and knowing how to use them) are essential too. Blood on the seat covers is a bastard to get off…
- You’re probably never more in danger than during a recovery situation. Know how to do it safely and make sure your friends and family do too. This is not the time to bend the rules for the sake of convenience. You want to adopt the mindset of a teenage boy trying to undo his first bra, here… take your time, think it through and stay calm.
- Cable ties, rescue tape and tie wire. MacGyver could build a space shuttle with nothing else. Put these get-out-of-jail-free cards in your glovebox and apply as needed until your fourby works again. Dex