With most of NSW still in lockdown, it’s unlikely we’ll be going anywhere for a little while. But we can dream about what we’ll do during summer when we’re mostly vaccinated, right!? If you’re keen on the great outdoors and looking to take the road less traveled, you might be planning a trip to the outback in the 4WD. We are stoked for you! So stoked that we want to make sure you do it right. Here are the top four embarrassing, dangerous and often expensive off-road driving mistakes that rookie 4WDers make so you can avoid them yourself.
Top four 4WD mistakes people make
Mistake 1: Buying the wrong vehicle
We hate to see this one because it’s so avoidable. When you’re choosing your 4WD, choose one that already has most of the stuff you need. If you’ll have to spend an arm and a leg on bush modifications just to get it fit for what you want to do, it’s not worth it.
Before you buy, assess exactly what you want from it and what you intend to do. Some things to consider are which season you’ll mostly travel in, where you like travelling to, and just how far ‘off the road’ you want to go.
Mistake 2: Believing everything you read in reviews
Research is extremely important when it comes to buying and modifying your car, and this includes reading other people’s reviews. But one person’s review is exactly that: one person’s experience. Where one person says a certain accessory doesn’t work, another may find that same accessory reliable and fit for purpose.
Do your research, but when you’re doing it, consider how many different factors influence an individual reviewer’s experience: their off road driving technique, their vehicle, what they used it for, and many other things.
Mistake 3: Getting the wrong 4×4 accessories for off road driving
Choosing 4×4 accessories that are right for your car is essential. Choosing the wrong ones can be not only inconvenient and frustrating, but also cause serious damage to your car.
For example, high-lift jacks are safe for some 4WDs, but will damage the body panels of others not designed to use them.
When choosing accessories, get help from the store’s staff to find ones that are right for your car.
Mistake 4: Doing anything they do in the ads
We’ve all seen the car ads for Land Cruisers and X-Trails where 4WDs drive gallantly through ocean water on beaches, or through flying rocks that seem to make no damage to the car’s exterior.
All we have to say is: the ads are wrong. Salt water will (WILL) cause rust that will damage your car, and driving through salt water is simply never a good idea. Oh, and rocks will damage your car, so don’t drive into rock storms. Or flood water. Or into vast deserts, really.
Stick to the safety advice of the real world and take car ads with a grain of salt. It’ll be better for your car in the long run!
Looking to get your car off-road ready? Read our article on preparing your car for an off road driving trip with Australia’s top 4×4 accessories.