Going to the beach is as Australian as lamingtons and Vegemite sandwiches. Unfortunately this can also mean fighting the crowds when trying to get a little spot to enjoy.
Finding your own slice of secluded Aussie beach is easier than you think. Follow these 10 easy steps to learn how to 4wd on the beach and you’ll be enjoying your own little beach paradise in no time.
Tips for driving on the beach
While driving on the beach is not difficult, if you think sand driving is the same as on the road you will be in for a big surprise. These tips for driving on the beach will help you to avoid getting bogged or worse, rolling your 4wd.
1. Air pressure
Having the right psi for beach driving will be the difference in having a good time or not. We normally start on 15 psi however if we know the sand is soft and fluffy, we will drop it to 12 psi. Don’t be scared to go lower if your 4wd is struggling. Make sure you drop your tyre pressure well before the beach entrance, nobody wants to be that guy that’s bogged and blocking the entrance.
Select H4 and go have some fun. Gear selection is everything when it comes to driving on sand. You need momentum, 2nd gear at the beach entrance and stay on the throttle. You want to be a little higher in the revs so when you put your foot down the torque is there ready to go. The sweet spot for the Fortuner is around 2000 rpm.
3. Traction control (TCS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Turn them off! While traction control and electric stability control are a great driving aid when on the road, in the sand these safety devices are not your friend. The way these traction aids work is they brake the wheel that is slipping, this will hinder your momentum and possibly even get you stuck.
How to turn off TCS and ESC: When you push the button to turn off TCS, hold it in for another 5 seconds and the traction control light will flash indicating that ESC is now off.
4. Stuck, stop immediately!
This ones pretty straight forward, if you lose forward momentum the sooner you stop your wheels spinning the better off you’ll be. The first thing you should do is try and see if you can reverse out. If you are really low down in the sand don’t be scared to put it into L4.
If that doesn’t work, get out your shovel and clear some of the sand from your tyres. Don’t be scared to let some more air out of your tyres, the difference between 15 psi and 10 psi will surprise you. If you still can’t get out, it’s time to get out your recovery tracks or a snatch strap and get a mate to pull you out.
5. Don’t go unprepared
Don’t go driving on the beach without some basic recovery gear. The minimum you will need is a tyre deflator and a shovel, preferably long handled. It’s also a great idea to have a snatch strap, a couple of shackles and some recovery boards, TREDs or similar. We take a set of TRED PRO with us every time because they are effective and easy to use. Most importantly make sure you know how to use all your gear, there’s nothing more embarrassing than having all the gear and no idea what to do with it.
6. Take it easy
Take it easy for the first lap around when you drive on the beach to get a feel for it. On the beach, the sand all blends together and makes it hard to see drop offs, ledges and washouts. Always check the steepness of dunes before hitting them and make sure there is sand on the other side to drive down and not just a sudden drop off.
Tip: A good set of sunglasses help out.
Don’t turn on dunes
Only ever go straight up and down dunes. If you get stuck going up, stop and slowly back straight down. Never try to turn around. When you turn the sand will shift under your 4×4 and can potentially put you in a dangerous position.
Tip: Remember to always check the other side first.
8. Keep an eye on others
Always keep a look out for other vehicles on the beach. Try to stay to the left when passing, it doesn’t hurt to flick your indicator so the oncoming beach 4wd’s know your intentions. Slow down a little around other 4×4’s, especially parked vehicles enjoying their time at the beach. Basically just be courteous of others and show some respect, it goes a long way.
9. Be aware of tides
Have a glimpse at the tide charts before hitting the beach; if you get stuck and the tide comes in, salt water will destroy your 4×4. Depending on the beach, you will need to make a judgement on where to drive. Stockton Beach NSW has a shelf and you would fall into the ocean if you get too close. Yet Teewah Beach in QLD is more flat and you can quite easily enjoy driving along the waters edge. If in doubt just stay above the high tide mark.
10. Air up, clean up
Once you hit the road again don’t forget to put some air back into your tyres. When you get home, give your 4wd a good wash and make sure you hose all the sand out from everywhere underneath.
Tip: Set up the sprinkler under the car.