Four wheel driving is inherently risky and few people go long without getting stuck, whether it be in sand, mud or water. So what do you do when it finally happens to you? Let’s take a look at prevention tips, the tools you need and how to get out.
Prevention is better than cure
Of course preventing yourself from getting stuck in the first place would be ideal. Here are some ways to reduce your chances: Water: Know just how deep the water is and if there are any obstacles or sudden dips. Yes, this may necessitate jumping out and having a good feel around. Take note if there’s a strong current or a soft sandy bottom and reconsider crossing if there is. Hopefully you’ve already waterproofed everything with repellent, waterproof tape etc. Before you head into the water, unlock everything and put your windows down. In a worst case scenario where you lose all power you don’t want to be trapped inside and have to smash a window. Make sure you’re in a low gear and don’t change gears while you’re traversing the body of water. If you make it to the other side then stop for a bit to let your car drain and the breaks dry off. Sand: Have your tyres deflated and drive slowly. Common times to get stuck are when you park or do U-Turns. If you have to park on the sand, avoids the wet stuff like the plague and park with your vehicle facing the sea. When making a U-turn, turn towards the sea so that the wheels that are doing the turning are on harder sand. If there are any existing tracks, follow them. Finally, tackle any sand dunes head on, and when you’re heading down the other side avoid braking.
So you’re stuck. Now what?
Water: If you can, keep your engine running to keep water out of the exhaust. But if it’s out and you can’t start your engine at all, don’t keep trying. Recognise that it’s time to use your recovery tools and get right to it - starting with getting everybody safely out. If towing isn’t an option then winching yourself out can be the next best thing. Just make sure you have a decent high lift jack! Sand: First, check that you’re actually in 4WD mode, your hubs are locked and your ‘diff’ is clear. If you’re still not going anywhere then you can try going back and forwards to build a bit of hard packed space - just don’t spin your wheels and dig yourself in more. Next, you can jump out and try to dig into the sand beneath your tyres and make a path. An even better path could have some rocks, wood, bush, carpet or sleeping bags to help give the tyres some traction. Still no luck? Then hopefully you brought some gear. We’re big fans of the 4.2 Tonne Exhaust Air Jack. It inflates in minutes and can lift your 4WD up out of the sand in seconds. It’s got anti-slip ground spikes to keep it in place and can actually be used on any type of ground with any time of vehicle. Handy! Note that this article only provides advice and is certainly not an extensive or exhaustible guide.
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