Beach driving is one of the most exciting and challenging parts of going off-road. Unlike other aspects of 4×4 driving, you don’t need the latest or greatest tech on your vehicle most four-wheel drives are more than capable of holding their own in the sand. And unlike some four-wheel drive tracks that you’ll need to spend days travelling to, you don’t have to travel too far from most major cities to be able to enjoy some sand driving and coastal camping spots.
When done right, sand driving is a straight forward pursuit. The chances of breaking any parts on your 4×4 are pretty low, which means you won’t spend the whole time worrying about potential repairs for your rig. With that being said, there’s more to sand driving than mashing the loud pedal and holding a straight line. That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks that will help you nail your next trip.
Check Your Tyre Pressure
Whenever you’re heading off-road, tyre pressures matter. Sand driving is no different having the right tyre pressure is critical for keeping you out of trouble on the sand. There’s no hard and fast rule for the correct tyre pressure when heading off road. There is a whole host of variables that can influence the right tyre pressure for your 4×4. Vehicle weight, tyre size, tyre tread, and conditions all play a large role in determining the right pressure for your tyres. You’ll need to keep an air compressor and tyre pressure monitor in your 4WD toolkit so that you can adjust your pressure to your driving conditions.
One rule of thumb that you should generally live by when heading to the sand is that tyre pressures should generally not exceed 20psi. Don’t venture too far south of 16psi otherwise you run the risk of rolling the tyre bead completely off the rim. If you find yourself bogged at high tide, it could be worth putting some more air in your tyres to try and make your way out safely.
Keep A Shovel on Hand
Getting bogged in the sand is a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’. As such, you need to keep a shovel in your 4×4 arsenal to you get out of trouble when you find yourself caught in a sticky situation. There are many times when a shovel will be more valuable than your winch and tow device.
If you find yourself bogged in the sand, the first thing to do is to trying to fight your way out with your right foot. The second thing you need to do is try to reverse your way out. At this point, your tyres have effectively dug a ramp into the hole that you are currently bogged in. With the assistance of a shovel, you can often reverse your way out of a tricky situation.
Steering to Safety
Steering your 4×4 rig on the sand is just as much about throttle input as it is about what you are doing with the steering wheel. It can be a big daunting when you turn your vehicle to the left and your vehicle wants to head right or keep going straight ahead. The key to steering on the sand is to use your throttle for steering input, by applying a little bit of accelerator as you turn your vehicle in, you’re encouraging your 4×4 to head in the right direction.
Steering on the sand is completely different to steering on sealed (and even unsealed) roads. If you move the wheel too sharply, you can cause the bead of your tyre to completely roll off the wheel. While this isn’t critical — it’s enough to put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day when you’re cleaning sand out of your tyre and rim and attempting to attach it back to the tyre.
Once you’ve had your fun on the sand, there’s only one thing left to do give your 4WD a good clean. The salt air and sand can quickly rust out your vehicle, so make sure you give your rig a thorough clean on the outside, inside, and on the underbody. Taking the time to clean your 4WD after a weekend on the sand can save you thousands of dollars in unnecessary rust repair down the line.