You’ve got your Mickeys fitted, your 4WD is equipped with as many mods as you can install without making the missus suspicious and you’ve finally managed to get some time off work on the exact same days as your best mate. To get the best memories out of your next epic off-road adventure, we’ve put together a quick ‘how-to’ guide to help you navigate some of the challenges (a.k.a. the fun stuff) that you might encounter out bush – nothing’s worse than having an incident that might cut short your trip or land your vehicle in the repair shop for costly fixes.
How to…tackle a water crossing
While every 4WDer loves getting wet when they’re behind the wheel, water crossings can inflict serious damage to your vehicle (and you!) if not done correctly. Make sure that you can cross safely first, meaning that if the water is flowing very fast, there’s large bits of debris floating about or crocodiles looking at you like you’re dinner, take an alternative route and save the crossing for another day.
If the crossing looks safe, test the water current and depth by walking in. Note where potential hazards like holes or rocks are and plan your route accordingly. If you haven’t attempted a water crossing before, it might pay to let someone experienced go first.
Keep your windows down in case you need to make an emergency exit, and go in slowly. You can quicken the pace a little once the underneath of your vehicle’s front dips into the water, but the key here is maintaining a steady speed instead of just speed. What you’re aiming for is a bow wave in front of your 4WD, as this will help you retain momentum and traction. For more on water crossings, check out our Driving Tips for River Crossings.Thanks to: www.offroadaussie.com
How to…drive on slick mud
While mud is frequently called ‘the sticky stuff’ in 4WDing circles, you may also encounter mud that forms a slippery shallow layer that looks deceptively easy to handle. To avoid losing grip and skidding your way into a bad situation, you need to decelerate gradually and adjust your revs to find that precious traction. If you start to slide, steer in the direction of the slide so that that back of your 4WD doesn’t end up overtaking the front. Resist the urge to brake hard; try to pump the brakes on and off gently so that your sliding slows down and your traction increases. More on mud driving here.
How to…handle soft sand
While fluffy, super-fine soft sand looks great in postcards and is fun to wiggle your toes in, it can be a tyre trap for the unwary 4WDer. Going in unprepared could mean you end up sinking so fast you’ll be stuck before you can tell your navi, “I think we’re gonna need that recovery gear, mate.”
Deflate your tyres to increase the contact patch and maintain your momentum. Accelerating heavily in this sort of terrain will only result in your tyres spinning and digging in even more, so be patient and let your 4WD carry you along gently. You will find that once the sand becomes firmer, the vehicle will probably speed up by itself anyway. Remember to adjust your tyre pressure back to the appropriate level once you are off the sand.Thanks to: www.4x4abc.com
How to…do a hill climb and descent
There’s nothing quite like taking on a hill that others would only dare to walk up in wearing boots with spikes. Done right, a steep hill climb can mean bragging rights around the campfire; done wrong, it can mean somersaulting your way to the bottom and serious consequences.
Choose the gear that’s going to give you the right amount of momentum to get you up; second gear in low range is the general guide but this may vary depending on the track you’re taking on. Lower your air pressures to increase traction and consider walking the track first to check for anything like fallen logs that might stop you halfway. Keep your revs consistent to avoid spinning your tyres while you’re ascending and you should have a great time doing the climb.
Once you’re over the hill and on your way down, change gears (first gear in low range or low range and Drive if you’re in an automatic should work) so that you can rely on your engine for speed control instead of just your brake. Try to avoid stomping on the brake pedal as this can lead to loss of control, which you want to avoid when doing a steep descent. You can also steer along wheel tracks or ruts if the slope is very slippery.
You can check out Shauno’s take on hill climbs and descents for a more detailed how-to.Thanks to: www.4wdaction.com.au
How to…get unstuck
First things first if you get stuck somewhere you don’t want to be. DON’T PANIC. One of the worst things you can do if you’re stuck is to try to accelerate your way out of there. Get out of your 4WD and evaluate the situation; sometimes the problem is an object that you can clear away if you jack up your vehicle. If you can’t move it out of the way, you can also try placing other objects under the tyres so you can drive over the obstacle.
If you’re stuck in mud, sand or some other soft surface, drop your tyre pressure and rock your way out of there. (This refers to making your vehicle go back and forth by quickly switching the trans between reverse and low, not indulging your inner Freddie Mercury.) If your tyres are actually buried, you might need to grab a shovel and start digging – remember to create a gentle slope right in front of all four tyres so you can drive out without too much difficulty.Thanks to: www.off-road.com
We hope that this quick ‘how-to’ guide helps you have a fun, action-packed adventure on your set of Mickey Thompsons. Remember that you can always call us on 1300 MICKEY if you have any questions and want to talk to a tyre expert; most of our team members are also experienced 4WDers and can help you find the right tyres for your trip.
If you’ve got any other tips or comments, drop us a line by leaving a reply on our Facebook page!