Driving a 4 wheel drive car is a skill, and having the knowledge to proper driving is essential to keeping you and your family safe. Here are some great tips for you when driving your 4WD on dirt, gravel and sand.
When travelling on an unsealed road, visibility is impaired by the dust that your tyres kick up. You should therefore travel at slower speeds than you do on a tarred road, in order that you have enough time to react safely, and brake if necessary while still maintaining traction with the surface of the road.
If there are oncoming vehicles and if you can see up ahead, travel on the crown of the road where there will be less loose sand and gravel. If you encounter an oncoming vehicle, or one behind you that wants to overtake, move slowly to the left to avoid a sudden loss of control should you hit loose stones or gravel.
If you are travelling in a convoy, keep a suitable gap between you and the car in front – anything from 100 metres to 500 metres. This will help you to stay out of the dust cloud from the car in front – providing better visibility and also ensuring that your air intake filters don’t get blocked.
Grip is very important when driving on unsealed roads – don’t switch off your Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). Drop your tyre pressure a little if the road is very corrugated, as this will increase grip and also give you a more comfortable ride.
When driving on sand, consider your momentum and keep in mind your tyre pressures. Lowering your tyre pressure will increase the length of the tread, and keeping up enough momentum to keep the vehicle on top of the sand, will help you to floating across the sand rather than churning through it. Don’t forget to watch your turning circles after dropping your tyre pressure – if you take too tight a turn you could have the tyre peel off the rim. Always drive up and down a sand dune in a straight line – if you try to drive diagonally across a dune you may roll your vehicle.
The golden rule is – don’t deflate your tyres if you don’t have the means to re-inflate them. On unsealed roads, slow down and look ahead.
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