Four-Wheel Driver Accessories: A Starter’s Guide
Now that you’ve got your 4WD and are ready to go, don’t forget to stock up on these key 10 accessories before taking off on your first 4×4 adventure.
All those dreams of weekend getaways and adventurous drives are coming to fruition now that you have your own set of wheels. To fully enjoy the experience while still keeping yourself safe, be sure to look into these accessories before heading out.
Ask anyone what is the most important part of your machine, and it’s this piece of metal out front. Considering most 4WDs have all the essential mechanical parts being protected by a simple bumper, and are still vulnerable to the smallest of knocks. As the name suggests, this metallic bar attaches to the front of the 4WD, and gives your vehicle a buffer between what might try to stop you, and yourself. When you’re hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest town, a knock by a kangaroo without a bar could put not only your car in serious danger, but your life. You won’t just look the part of a serious driver, but you’ll be out of harm’s way.
Keeping an engine away from water is recommended to avoid water ingress, but if you’re going through a water crossing it’s unavoidable. Snorkels lessen the possibility of water getting into the guts of your engine. 4WD snorkels also work a treat when you’re driving in the dusty plains of Australia, helping get cooler, cleaner air into the engine. With all that dust being kicked up into the air, your air intake is amongst all of that. Gaps on the side by the snorkel’s top also force any dusty air you might pick up while in convoy too. If you happen to come across snowfall, snow can build up by your air intake and the radiator, so using a snorkel helps keep quality air into the engine.
You might not be near a petrol station when you’re out and about – especially when you’re far from any civilisation at all. Needing all this extra oomph to your drive when you’re out on difficult terrain takes up a lot of your fuel very quickly. On top of that, towing a caravan or a boat can chew through the rest of your fuel, leaving you with just a finite amount of time with a stock tank. Most extended tanks are lightweight and tough, giving you hundreds of extra kilometres to explore without worry. Not only does it give peace of mind to have that added amount of fuel for the day, but you can plan when to fill the tank up and avoid the unpredictable petrol prices of stations and roadhouses away from town.
While in normal cases you should be fine with a singular battery, once you need to use your 4WD’s winch or want to add creature comforts like a car fridge, a battery’s charge gets drained quicker. Forget giving your truck a push-start if you’re out 4WDing – hill or no.
Setting up a dual-charging system alleviates that concern – the extra battery will be ready to go if the first one goes flat. Camping with some creature comforts requires a bit of power, and that’s where an extra battery also comes in handy. Using electrical devices without draining the car’s battery makes for a less stressful sleep under the stars.
When the 4WD is bogged out in the deep sand of the desert or stuck in wet mud, an electric winch will be your saviour. By finding an anchor point to wrap the metal wire rope around, the winch – built to withstand the weight of a 4WD – is strong enough to help pull out your vehicle out with its motor.
Sometimes you’ll be stuck in a place with no real anchor to connect your winch to, leaving you bogged and far from the others. Making use of an exhaust jack in places like soft sand – using your vehicle’s engine exhaust to inflate a bag underneath and raise the 4WD from the ground – and sliding some sand tracks underneath will get you back and running. This technique works in mud and snow too.
A 4WD lift jack is another tool that is useful in getting part of your vehicle out of the trouble it’s found itself in. No need for electricity or exhaust fumes, your good ol’ arm muscle will help lift you out. These jacks can withstand a tonne, and can lift a good 48 inches – though you won’t need that much.
Stock standard suspension of some 4WDs should do for a mixture of normal road or 4×4 use, but once you start adding people, luggage, and any modifications made, prolonged use could add stress and flexing to the suspension, as well as affect wheel alignment. The nature of off-road terrain being unpredictable, you need a strong suspension kit designed to withstand the increased load carrying, as well as give you better handling. The last thing you want is to feel battered around left and right for hours on end.
Your vehicle should come equipped with lights already, though depending on where you plan to drive, things get more difficult under less-than-ideal lighting situations. Night driving or being stuck under bad weather will hinder your vision, and by installing additional driving lights, will help get you through tough spots. LED driving lights and light bars can shine strongly in a concentrated area, ensuring that you see what’s ahead.
This last one usually gets dropped off the radar, but can be a key part in safety inside the vehicle. With unexpected terrain comes unexpected bumps, and the contents of what’s inside the vehicle have a tendency to move around with it – a 4WD’s cargo hooks might not be enough to hold your heavy objects back if there’s a collision. While it also makes for a very tidy pack when heading out, this is a great addition to keep heavy stuff away from the front.