Tyre pressure and the correct inflation for the type of driving that you are doing are of the utmost importance to correct before tackling any situation that you will need four wheel drive for. For example driving in thick sand requires a tyre pressure below 1.2 Bar.
- It is vital to understand and manage tire pressure according to the road and vehicle load conditions.
- Poor tire pressure management is a big cause of serious road accidents on tar and especially secondary gravel roads.
- Tire pressure increases as the tire gets to operating road temperature.
- Tire pressure increases from a cold tire (not been driven) to tire that has been driven, i.e. a hot tire by between 10 to 15 percent, factors such as road surface, speed, load, heat, etc. effect tire pressure.
- Tire pressure gauges at petrol stations cannot be trusted as they vary dramatically and are not calibrated correctly, check your tire pressure personally, ask for a tire pressure gauge from our motorhome consultant before your trip.
- On gravel - where your speeds SHOULD BE much lower never over 80 km/h - deflate your tyres by 10 or 15%, to give a softer ride, one that will not shake the windscreen out of the car or the fillings from your teeth.
- To get an accurate datum, make a note of cold pressures before you start, observe recommended tire pressure chart in the motorhome.
- For long distance tar, it’s advisable to increase by 10% above the norm.
- On good gravel decrease by 10% to 15 % AND lower your speed. On firm road surfaces off road, it’s advisable to decrease by 20%.
- On sand, it’s advisable to decrease by up to 50% i.e. 100 in front and 150 at rear.
When loading your 4x4 vehicle remember to try and pack as much weight as possible into the lower of your vehicle and not high and on the roof. One of the leading causes of accidents and vehicles overturning is overweighting and poor weight distribution. Top-heavy vehicles are far more likely to roll, and are not easy to control if you need to suddenly swerve you vehicle. Your heaviest baggage and equipment should sit low in the vehicle, with as little weight as possible on your roof.
Weight is your enemy, travel light, live light, you will have a much more enjoyable 4x4 experience!!
Speed compounds problems any eventuality you encounter on the road becomes easier to deal with the slower you are travelling. You have more time to react and your momentum is easier to manage.
Dirt and gravel roads in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa can have sloping shoulders, swerving onto these uneven planes increase the possibility of overturning your vehicle. In the event of wildlife blocking your path it is often safer to maintain your course than to swerve onto a slopping shoulder. Again, low speeds can prevent this becoming a decision you have to make.
Be aware of your vehicles fuel requirement, LOW SULPHUR DIESEL and capacity, fuel consumption and the distance between fuel stops. Terrain, speed, tire pressure and load all influence your consumption. Carry spare fuel to be safe.
When using four-wheel drive vehicles, it is advisable to engage the 4x4 on all gravel roads including off road sand or mud roads. Never engage 4x4 when driving on asphalt tar roads.
Caution: Never forget to disengage 4x4 when returning to tar / asphalt road surfaces.
Warning: serious damage to vehicle may result which will be for your account.
- Check that tyre pressures match the recommend settings.
- Must haves: emergency tyre-repair kit, and compressor.
- Lower the tyre pressure on vehicle as per tire pressure chart in vehicle all around,
- Engage 4 x 4 Hi Range
- Keep speed below 80km/h
- Switch on your headlights in order to be more visible
- In any dangerous situations (e.g. heavy dust) switch on hazards
- Drive on the outside of the dust of a vehicle ahead , (keep a long following distance to keep out of the dust of vehicle ahead of you)
- Want to overtake? Flash your lights and switch hazards on – warn the vehicle in front
- Depending on the terrain, lower the tyre pressure again to increase the footprint.
- For sandy or muddy tracks, decrease tire pressure 20 percent , see recommended tire pressure table in vehicle.
- Engage full 4 x 4 mode
- Keep a constant speed – momentum is the key to conquering obstacles
- Don’t over-power your vehicle
- Never stop in sand or mud
- If the terrain is extremely uneven, stop first, engage the rear diff-lock or axle lock
- Don’t drive on your clutch
- Stop dead.
- Select neutral, or engage clutch.
- Engage the strongest 4 x4 selection the vehicle offers.
- Engage rear diff-lock or axle lock (while stationary).
- Keep foot of the clutch as far as possible.
- Check vehicle- and camper tyre pressure , less 20 percent , see table
- Move as slowly as possible, but keep your trailer/camper in sight in side mirror at all times and maintain momentum
- Lower your side mirrors to see where the tyres are running
- Use a navigator to guide you
- You need to drive out of an obstacle completely before you start to apply more power
- Plan your every move and think of the consequences – for your vehicle, your camper/trailer, your family, and the environment.