Driving over sand and dunes in a 4×4
Driving over sand and dunes in your 4×4 can sometimes result in the need for a recovery, but when done right it is an exhilarating experience. Here are some useful tips that will help you make the most out of sand and dunes.
- Before attempting to drive across sand, it’s important to ‘read the line’, and check if the sand is dry, damp or wet.
- High-range is suited to most sandy conditions as it allows you sufficient forward momentum, which gives your vehicle flotation over the sand.
- The key to flotation is deflation! (± 50% of the recommended pressure for tar) – gear selection is also critical.
- Hot, dry sand disperses quickly and is more difficult to get across. In the early morning and late afternoon the sand will be cooler and easier to cross.
- Damp sand offers the most traction. Sand is generally damp early in the morning and later in the afternoon or after rain. It binds together which allows better flotation.
- You can easily spot wet sand as it has a shimmer – avoid these patches as you could easily get stuck.
- Salt flats can be treacherous if you break through it’s crust – you can get bogged down.
- Small dunes tend to be unstable and are best avoided – drive around them.
- Larger dunes may allow sufficient space to ‘attack’ them correctly, learn the correct technique to crest a dune by attending one of our driving courses. Decelerate just before going over; remember that momentum and selecting the correct gear is critical.
- On sickle dunes, stop just before going over the crest as there is no back face to drive on to and you may flip your vehicle.
- Select a gear that is appropriate for your vehicle and the terrain. The most important thing to remember here is to avoid wheel-spin. Changing gears while driving will break your momentum and could get you stuck!
- It’s always a good idea to follow existing tracks.
- If you need to stop, allow your vehicle to simply decelerate to a halt. Hard raking will get you stuck.
- Always be aware of other vehicles and pedestrians as the terrain may prevent you from being able to stop quickly.
- If you are driving in existing tracks and need to leave them, aim in the desired direction and accelerate to ‘power out’ of the grooves.