Tips for 4WDriving on sand and what to do if you get bogged
The truth of the matter is, when it comes to beach driving on soft sand, you’re 100% going to get bogged. It’s inevitable. Does this mean you’re a bad driver? Nah. It happens to even the best of us.
But there is some simple driving tips you can follow to help reduce your chances of getting stuck on the sand.
Whether you’re driving on the beach, desert, sand dunes or bush there are several important factors to consider that will ensure you don’t spend the most part of your day trying to dig yourself out of a hole.
Save those kilograms
‘Just in case we need it.’
You’ve heard the line many times before but removing unwanted fittings or miscellaneous items from your vehicle can make a big difference.
Vehicles like the Holden RG Colorado, Nissan Navaro and the Mitsubishi MQ Triton, work best when the load is lightened.
This way, the vehicle endures less strain, you’ll experience better fuel economy and there’s less chance of breakdowns and flat tyres. Also, think about the amount of time you’ll save on packing and unpacking.
Get the right tyre pressure
Getting the right tyre pressure is arguably the most important technique for successfully driving on sand.
Reducing tyre pressure will help distribute the weight of your vehicle across a greater surface area, increasing the contact surface of the tyres with the ground.
This results in greater traction and will lessen how much the tyres sink into the sand.
What is ideal tyre pressure?
To be honest, it’s not as simple as telling you which pressure to run, as there are multiple variables that come into play including characteristics of your vehicle including overall weight, tyre size and of course vehicle make and model.
You then have to consider different types of sand terrain: sand is firmer near the water, whereas sand dunes are far softer and drier.
Rule of thumb: We recommend that you do not go any lower than 16psi as you run the risk of debeading your tyre and rolling when cornering sharply.
Maintain momentum when tacking dunes
Maintaining momentum is the second most important technique for successfully 4wd on sand. Driving on sand can be compared to the likes of a boat on the water.
When the boat is travelling slowly or at a standstill, it sinks into the water. At high speeds, it glides across the surface effortlessly, almost like it’s “floating”.
Similarly, driving slowly on soft sand will result in your tyres sinking into the sand, requiring your engine to work harder to maintain forward momentum. Without the right throttle application, you will get bogged.
- If you feel your vehicle slowing down — like you’re dragging something — apply more throttle.
What about gear selection?
The key to maintaining momentum is making sure you’re in the right gear. Too high a gear and you’ll have no power, too low and you may have too much. Most guides will recommend staying in the low range initially. If you feel like you’re starting to get bogged, low range will provide you with the necessary power to drive out while allowing adequate speed to keep you floating on top of the sand.
- If you notice the revs dropping and your vehicle slows down, the gear is too high.
- If the sand is compact and you’re comfortable with using high ranges, it’s worth the extra speed.
- Always keep a little in reserve for those ohsh** moments and when exiting and entering a beach, as the sand is quite choppy.
Rule of thumb: Avoid speeding. 20km/h is a safe speed. Driving on sand is nothing like driving on the road and can quickly increase the chances of getting into a serious accident. Always pay attention to the terrain and preemptively prepare.
Driving on sand tips and tricks
Pay attention to the terrain.
Be conscious of steep drop-offs on beaches. Driving too close to an edge can cause the cut-aways to collapse, resulting in your vehicle rolling. The sun’s glare reflecting off the sand in your eyes is enough to make you miss a hole, cut-away and erosion, so always have your sunnies on.
Don’t get too close to the water.
There are many nightmare stories of 4WD’s getting bogged near the water’s edge and quickly succumbing to a high tide. Kiss your rig goodbye.
Avoid turning/cornering sharply.
With reduced tyre pressure, taking a corner too sharply runs the risk of debeading your tyre and rolling. Debeading your tyre will deflate your tyres rapidly.
Never stomp on the brakes.
Avoid slamming the brakes when coming to a stop. Using the brakes will cause sand to build up in front of the tyres, making it very difficult to go forward again. Let the sand naturally slow you down.
What to do if you get stuck while driving on sand
How to get the car out of the sand? Here is what to do if you get stranded:
- Reduce your tyre pressure
- Try and reverse out
The tracks you drove on previously are often solid enough for you to reverse out on and try another path.
- Slowly drive backwards and forwards
This will help compact the sand.
- Dig yourself out with a shovel
You can try creating your own track by digging out the sand in a particular direction you want to drive in. Clear the sand away from your axles, diffs and undercarriage.
- Lay down your EXITRAX Recovery Board
Since you’ve done all the digging, lay down your exitrax.
- Use your snatch strap
If all else fails, hopefully, you’re with a mate who can bail you out with a snatch.
Essential 4×4 gear when driving on sand
- Long handled shovel
- Rated recovery points
- Essential recovery kit
- Snatch strap
- Snatch block
- Steel bow shackles
- 3m tree trunk protector
- Air compressor
- Tyre deflators
- Sand flag
- UHF Radio
- Winch (optional)
- Bull bars provide excellent recovery locations to place winches, sand flags, snatch straps while protecting your 4×4 from unsuspecting wildlife.