Driving your 4WD vehicle off-road is a popular hobby in Australia, but considering only 4×4 accessories might be not enough.
Picking the right tires is also one of, if not the most, important part of safety and performance on different terrains. Australia’s diverse landscape means there’s no one-size-fits-all tire solution, despite the name “all-terrain tires.”
4WD Tires Come in Four Types
- All-Terrain Tires: Good for a variety of terrains, but they might not excel in specific conditions.
- Mud-Terrain Tires: With aggressive treads, these are great for muddy terrain but not always the best choice for all situations.
- Highway Tread Tires: Ideal for highway and city driving.
- All-Purpose Tires: Versatile for both on-road and off-road driving, but with less aggressive treads.
Your choice of tires depends on your 4WD driving style and how often you plan to use them.
Tips for 4WD Driving on Different Terrains
Here are recommendations for driving on various terrains in Australia to ensure your vehicle’s safety and performance.
4WDing in the outback comes with unique challenges, especially when dealing with bulldust. This substance looks like sand but hides a solid base, which can pose risks. Avoid deflating your tires on this surface, as it can harm your vehicle’s chassis and sidewalls. Instead, use a high gear range and maintain a steady speed of 60-80km/h. If your vehicle starts moving sideways, make steering adjustments and use the throttle carefully.
In rocky terrain, it’s essential to keep all wheels on the ground to prevent tire slippage caused by sudden acceleration. Avoid contact between your tire sidewalls and sharp edges or rough surfaces to prevent damage or tears. If your wheels get stuck, you can temporarily lower your tire pressure to free them, but remember to reinflate them immediately after they are released.
Sandy and Beach Terrain
When you’re driving on sandy terrain, maintaining speed is crucial. It’s best to keep your 4WD in high range, but if you get stuck in a sand hole, switch to low range. If the sand is fine and packed down, driving feels like being on a regular road. However, if the sand is loose and being blown by the wind, you should accelerate fully with slightly deflated tires. Lowering tire pressure widens their footprint and helps with traction. Make sure the pressure stays above 102-110 kPa (about 14-16 psi).
After you’re out of this terrain, remember to reinflate your tires at the nearest petrol station. If you have an air pump with you, it’s better to reinflate your tires as soon as possible. In the meantime, drive at a speed not exceeding 80km/h for safety.
- Drive cautiously to prevent tire damage.
- Avoid contact between tire sidewalls and sharp edges or rough surfaces.
- If your wheels get stuck, you can temporarily lower your tire pressure to free them, but reinflate them immediately afterwards.
- Keep as many free tires as possible on higher ground if your 4WD gets stuck in a muddy hole.
- Use gentle acceleration and turn the steering wheel from side to side to gain traction and lift the vehicle out of the hole.
- After building momentum, switch to a high range and maintain a steady throttle to assist in getting out.
- After freeing your vehicle, check the wheel guards to ensure no mud is blocking the tire tread and clean it if necessary.