Check Your Hardware: Off-Road Driving Tips to Keep You on the Move
A reality with off-road driving is that your vehicle will break down. The key to successful recovery is to be as self-sufficient as possible. Every year, unprepared adventurers have to be rescued in desperate situations. A little forethought will ensure that you aren't left stranded.
Payload is a major issue when outback driving. Ideally, two or more vehicles should travel together. This allows you to carry more equipment. From the back of Bourke to Cape York Peninsula, basic spare parts and accessories can help you stay mobile. Local auto centers such as Toyots R Us can supply most of your needs. He will also be able to advise which parts off-road drivers most frequently request.
Solo vehicles will only be able to carry bare essentials. Choose the items that are most likely to break and take enough parts to allow for temporary repairs.
- Bring at least two spare tyres. If you are off roading for any length of time, changing tyres and wheels will be necessary. Make sure that you have valves, bearings and anything else necessary for successful tyre or wheel replacement.
- A selection of nuts, bolts and screws will prove invaluable. Usually these can be adjusted with a spanner to suit your purpose. Double check that you are carrying wheel nuts.
- Hoses are one of the most common replacements needed so carry all types. A compressor hose is mandatory.
- Fan belts are usually easy to repair. Make sure that a simple problem doesn't leave you stranded.
- Damaged spark plugs and leads can result in more serious issues for your engine. Carry spares and replace if you notice wear and tear.
Most four wheel drives are designed for rough roads and moderately difficult terrain. This is quite different from off road driving where you are pushing your vehicle through flooded rivers, bulldust tracks and bushland. Some basic add-on accessories can make your journey more comfortable and safer. There are many options but these are the most common additions.
- Kangaroo jack: Many off-roaders insist that this is the single most important accessory needed. Its primary purpose is to lift vehicles over high obstacles but it can also act as a winch, a clamp and an important tool for tyre repair.
- Bullbar: If your vehicle did come with a bullbar, you may still wish to upgrade. The best bullbars will protect your lights, prevent wildlife from flying through the windscreen, knock down small bushes and be suitable for fitting a winch.
- Winch: If you are travelling with other vehicles this may not be necessary; however, when travelling alone this can prevent a long wait if bogged in a muddy river.
- Spotlights: If you expect to be driving at night, better visibility is vital. Invest in quality, long-range lights.
- Snorkel and diff breathers: These simple additions reduce the amount of water or dust entering your system, lowering chances of a breakdown.
- Heavy duty suspension, dual battery system and long range fuel tank: Consider these additions if you are going on a longer journey or you frequently drive off road as part of your work.
A carefully-planned tool kit will allow you to use your spares and accessories to best advantage. Pack radiator sealant, WD40 and brake fluid. Look at the sizes of your nuts, bolts and screws, then organise a spanner, socket and screwdriver set. Wire, tie down straps, cable ties, duct tape, electrical tape and clamps can be used creatively for makeshift repairs. With a pair of pliers, a hammer and jumper leads, you should have the essentials to get you back on the road.
One of the great joys of Australian travel is going off the beaten track. Equip your vehicle correctly so that you spend your trip actually driving off road rather than sitting beside the road waiting for help.