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  #1  
Old 9th April 2017, 08:22 PM
Bridgestone Bridgestone is offline
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Default Sand Driving in a 4WD Ė What You Need to Know

By Aaron Schubert

That said, sand driving is where a lot of people make simple mistakes, and itís also a terrain that works your 4WD very hard. Consider walking along a soft beach; it takes a lot of effort, doesnít it? Your 4WD feels the same way!

What do you need to know about sand driving?

Let Your Tyres Down
In Western Australia, many of the beaches you can take a 4WD onto are extremely soft. Almost every day someone gets bogged, and more often than not itís due to tyre pressures.

Tyre pressures are the single most important factor you control as the driver. Get it right, and your 4WD will idle past those struggling to make progress on the beach. Get it wrong, and youíll be going down faster than you go forwards.

The reason for tyre deflation is simple; to increase the contact patch of tyre touching the ground. If you imagine a tyre that is pumped up to 40 PSI, the sidewalls are tight and there is little bulge. However, let the tyres down to 15 PSI, and the sidewalls bulge out and the surface area touching the ground increases.

The weight of your 4WD is still the same, but now itís spread over a bigger area, effectively giving you less weight per square cm. A common mistake is to think that your tyre expands in width. It does a very tiny amount, but the biggest gain in footprint is length.

Let your tyres down, and your 4WD will float more easily over the sand instead of sinking like a rock.

Whatís The Best Tyre Pressures?
The answer varies from vehicle to vehicle; a lighter vehicle requires lower tyre pressures. That said, a good starting point is 18 PSI for softer sand, and work down from there if required.

You can let your tyres down lower if you are having difficulty moving, but the lower your tyre pressures the easier it is to roll a tyre off the rim. As you lower your tyre pressure, you should be reducing your speed, and cornering much slower.

However, always remember to return to normal pressures when coming back on-road.

Engaging 4WD
If youíve never had your 4WD off-road before, you need to know how to engage 4WD! Most 4WDs these days have automatic locking front hubs, and you just need to select 4WD high and it will do the work for you.

If you have a centre differential, lock that too. For those of you who have older 4WDs, you might have to get out of the air conditioning and manually turn the hubs to the 4◊4 (or locked) position.

Momentum and Gearing
More often than not, when you get stuck in sand itís when you go to take off again. Maintaining a constant speed through the sand the momentum carries you through any soft sections.

On a soft beach, anywhere from 20km/h through to 35km/h is suitable, but adjust it based on how soft it is, the ruts you are in, side angle and other people.

Itís important to choose the right gearing too, as this is what plays a huge role in how hard your 4WD is working. If the sand is soft, low range is perfect, using first to fourth gear. If your vehicle doesnít have to work too hard in high range that is fine too, in first and second gear.

Aim to keep the revs in peak performance range, so the vehicle works as easy as possible. Donít have the revs down too low, or have them up near the rev limiter either; itís not good for your 4WD, and itís not necessary either.

Tides
If you are heading to the beach, take 5 minutes to look at what the tides are doing. At the very least, you should know whether they are going out or coming back in. Often the beach will go from two tracks down to only one, or if you are unlucky none; get somewhere only to realise the tide is coming in and you are trapped.

Once the salt water hits your car, you are in trouble; itís hard to get out, and the salt water does serious damage to your panels.

Side Angles
Side angles are a part of driving on the beach, or any sandy surface. While they might not be overly pleasant, take them gently and stick within the ruts where safe to do so.

Your 4WD will usually go much further than you are comfortable with, but a bump in the wrong direction can be dangerous and you wouldnít be the first person to roll their 4WD over.

Clearance
Having adequate clearance under your 4WD is important, and this is where many of the all-wheel drive SUVís become unstuck. Once youíve let your tyres down, there isnít much else you can do to get further on sand. Power is definitely helpful, but not entirely necessary; Iíve driven some pretty gutless 4WDís on soft sand and never had any issues.

If there is room and you are struggling with clearance, you can move out of the main ruts and make your own track.

Post continues below...
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  #2  
Old 9th April 2017, 08:23 PM
Bridgestone Bridgestone is offline
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Where to Drive
If possible, normally staying within the ruts is ideal for sand driving. If you are having issues with clearance you can drive outside of them, but pay particular attention to side angles, and always keep an eye in front of you; beaches can change very quickly.

If you come to an edge, slow down and stop until you are happy with it. Dune driving especially can be very dangerous if you just continue driving over the edge.

On a beach, normally the sand closer to the water is harder, but it isnít always. Stick to the main tracks where possible, and only exit to pass another vehicle or if you are confident the sand is harder elsewhere.

Remember, if you do get stuck, the closer you are to the water the faster the tideís going to get your vehicle!

Sand Recoveries
If you do get stuck on sand, donít stress; itís one of the easiest places to get moving again. The first thing to do is stop accelerating if you arenít moving forward. Get out, check your tyre pressures and deflate them further if possible and spend a couple of minutes on a shovel. Normally from there you can drive out.

Traction aids are fantastic for the sand, as is a gentle snatch strap. In many cases you will have to head downhill a little until you build momentum up again; donít try and take off up a slope. It wonít happen.

Above all, make sure you take your time with recoveries, especially if snatch straps and winches are involved.

Thereís some truly amazing sand driving in Australia, from the many deserts through to endless tracks through the scrub and stunning beaches.

What are you waiting for? See you out there!
As an avid 4WD owner and photographer, Aaron Schubert lives and breathes the outdoors. When heís not out exploring Australia by 4WD, heís writing about it. Aaron runs 4WDing Australia, a blog dedicated to inspiring others to travel Australia by 4WD.


LINKS:*

Bridgestone Australia Ė*www.bridgestonetyres.com.au/

Bridgestone Australia Facebook Ė*[URL="http://clixtrac.com/goto/?188183"]www.
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  #3  
Old 9th April 2017, 10:11 PM
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All good advice. I have 'stuck' this thread.

Copied from vendor specific forum.
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Old 10th April 2017, 10:45 AM
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I'd like to add a couple of other suggestions..

Roll to a stop
Braking to stop will dig the tyres in, making it hard to get going again. Roll to a stop & let the sand do the braking.

Stop facing downhill
This will make starting again much easier

If you can't get going
If you can't get going, reverse over your tracks. The sand here is compacted so is much easier to drive on. Back up a good 20m or more & then drive forward. It will be much easier

Air pressures
For our little Subies:
Firm sand 20psi
normal sand 16psi
soft sand 12psi (avoid turning sharply)
very soft sand 8psi (air back up to 12psi when you clear the soft patch)

Snatching
If you get stuck & a 4wd wants to snatch you out, be careful! Most 4wders will use their 12T snatch strap with almost no stretch & want to go like a bull at a gate. This might break your little Subie in half!

Use your own 5-6T (max) snatch strap & instruct him to go easy. All you need is a gentle tug to get going again

Organise a system BEFORE you begin. I like to use a UHF command to start but a good toot on the horn to signal to stop. Make sure you agree on this first!

Recovery tracks
No need to empty the bank account. There are lots of cheap options for us, a 1.5t Subaru isn't as hard on gear as a 3.5T Cruiser.
I use XBULL from eBay, around $100 per set, held up to a bit of abuse just fine.

When using recovery tracks, don't spin the wheels. This can rip off the plastic lugs. Just gentle momentum.

I'd also recommend 2 sets so you have one track for each tyre

Camera
Remember to take photos videos of your travels, esp when you snatch out that 4wd!!

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Old 10th April 2017, 06:28 PM
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^ more good advice!
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  #6  
Old 23rd November 2017, 05:10 PM
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In autos should we stick to first and second gear only?
Should we enable 'hold' button to have locked to 2nd as take off?
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Old 23rd November 2017, 06:46 PM
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Depends on the condition of the sand i.e. if it's hard packed you can often just leave it in auto; if soft, then yes, 1st, 2nd or 3rd. I've never had any need to use the Hold button on sand but it can be useful on snow / ice.
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Old 23rd November 2017, 06:49 PM
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I start in second in soft stuff, either sand or snow. Could be a recollection from 1980s FWD cars in snow, but I also do it with the Subaru in sand. The only time I was stuck, in wife's Tribeca, I was pulled out a couple yards (yes, a very hard pull, but 2005-6+ Subarus are actually very stout) and then was able to re-start in 2nd and drive up a sandy hill while the truck guys watched in disbelief.

I have experimented with the OB without being really stuck and starting in 2nd does seem to make it easier to minimize wheel spin at the start.
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Old 23rd November 2017, 08:36 PM
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Cheers both. Only other thing I was going to question was with an 07 sg na forester should I be looking to do any disables (fuse plucking) before hitting the sand?

Last edited by Vert; 23rd November 2017 at 09:08 PM. Reason: Woeful grammer
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Old 23rd November 2017, 08:51 PM
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No, don't think so. Just use brakes as little as possible, if at all, and if working hard in soft sand keep an eye on the temp gauge because if the the auto trans gets hot it can increase the temp in the radiator.
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