What you need to know about 4WDs – The Basics

If you’ve made a car purchase recently, there’s a good chance it was an SUV. With the rise of these popular cars in the market, more Australians are buying four-wheel-drives more than ever before. Today’s 4WDs aren’t just for transport – they’re lifestyle vehicles, effortlessly blending traditional practicality with all the benefits of an off-road vehicle.

While 4WD models generally cost more than their two-wheel-drive counterparts, the added benefits are often worth the investment. A modern 4WD usually includes novice-friendly features and state-of-the-art technology that adapts to your terrain to help keep you safe.

The main point of difference is the power to the wheels. While 2WD vehicles are operated from the front or rear, in 4WD vehicles power is directed to all four wheels at the same time. This system is not only a major safety feature, but it also maximises road traction. This means you’re able to head on an off-road adventure to explore some of Australia’s best hidden tracks and natural wonders.

Want to join in on the 4WD revolution? Here are our favourite 4WD tips and tricks that could be helpful before you hit the roads.

4WDs can be safer – but be careful

While the 4WD systems have traditionally been found in large trucks and SUVS, recent improvements mean it can now be included in a wider variety of comfortable and luxurious car models. Though four-wheel-drive systems are generally better at handling diverse terrain, the overall safety level of a 4WD depends on the conditions of the roads and how the vehicle is driven.

As stated by Victorian regulations, all new passenger vehicles must be fitted with electronic stability control. In a 4WD, these systems stabilise the vehicle and help to provide greater traction than a two-wheel-drive vehicle when accelerating and cornering. This is a major benefit to 4WDs, especially when the road is wet or slippery. Other features such as Hill Descent Control allow for smooth and descent over rough terrain without requiring the driver to constantly touch the brake pedal.

One of the most important safety 4WD tips for beginners is to know your vehicle’s capabilities and limitations. Before taking your 4WD off-roading, check under the car to identify its lowest point, approach angles and wading depth. Additionally, common sense planning can go a long way – simple things like checking the weather and planning your route can drastically increase your safety when four-wheel-driving and save you hassle in the long run.

4WD Beginner Tips

Gather supplies

Before you go off-road, make sure you load up on supplies. Consider bringing essentials with you on every trip, including:

  • Tyre recovery gear
  • Recovery tracks
  • Snatch straps 
  • Radio
  • A first aid kit
  • A shovel
  • A starter kit
  • Water

Packing the right supplies can help you avoid sticky situations – or get you out of one when the time comes.

Know your terrain

One of the best parts of owning a 4WD in Australia is the vastly different terrains you’ll encounter along your travels. Knowing whether the ground will be sandy, rocky, steep or muddy, and knowing when to engage different modes is a skill that all 4WD drivers will pick up over time.

Adjust your tyre pressure

Tyre pressure is one of the most important, yet overlooked 4WD tips for newbies. 4×4 experts state that a common mistake beginner drivers make is not adjusting their tyre pressure for a better grip on the road. Reducing the air pressure to suit your terrain will not only improve your vehicle’s performance, but also aid tyre lifespan, help prevent damage, and make your ride much safer.

Stay slow

While you might be tempted to go fast over obstacles, it’s important to pace yourself. The old adage of ‘slow and steady wins the race,’ rings true no matter the terrain you’re driving. This is because it’s easy for things to go wrong when driving over unfamiliar obstacles. Keeping calm and thinking first can help you stay safe.

The experienced team Highfields Mechanical are on hand to answer all your questions. For all your 4WD needs, give us a call today on (07) 4646 1780 or fill out our online contact form and we will be in touch.

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